Chapter 10 – Encountering Christ Today: The Seven Sacraments Love Unveiled

Mary –

In this chapter, the purpose and power of the sacraments are explained quite eloquently, but what truly caught my attention and caused me to pause a moment and really think … was the analogy made between the reception of (and effectiveness of) a sacrament and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman [Luke 8:42-48].  We are strongly reminded that the sacraments are NOT impacted by the holiness of the minister – the sacrament will affect what is meant to because the sacraments are from Christ  – and if we don’t notice a ‘change’ it isn’t that the sacraments are just rituals that accomplish nothing.  Instead, to use a bit of a cliché here; we get out of it what we put into it – meaning that the level of faith with which we approach the reception of any sacrament is going to greatly impact its fruits and how it brings about benefits or changes within us.  Sri spoke well when he said: “In the Gospel account, many people crowded around Jesus and made contact with him that day.  But only one reached out with great faith, and she was healed.  None of the others had a dramatic transformation, but the woman who came with faith did”.  I want to keep that little nugget of wisdom close to my heart.  I want to embrace it, ponder it, and use it as motivation to grow in my faith.  We all need to ask ourselves whether we truly, sincerely, are faith-filled as we partake in the sacramental life of the Church.  We must remember about the sacraments that if “our souls are well-disposed, their power is even more effective”.  If we aren’t feeling the benefit – or growth in our spiritual life – this isn’t any indication of a flaw with what the Church believes and practices, but is instead a flaw within ourselves, that fortunately can be repaired.

Ralph –

Those of us catechized in the 60’s by any variety of religious sisters, likely have the definition of a Sacrament more firmly embedded in our memory than the birth dates of our parents or siblings! My Baltimore Catechism, page worn and committed to memory, defined a Sacrament as “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.”  This very simple definition describes a very simple truth, that God desires to be present throughout our lives in a tangible, significant and life-giving way.

We are blessed that this presence of God in the Sacraments occurs at different points throughout our life when God’s Grace is much needed. Through Baptism God prepares us and strengthens us as we begin our journey of discipleship. In Eucharist and Reconciliation, we receive ongoing grace to grow in holiness through forgiveness and the Bread of Life. As we face the challenges of begin a young adult, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are increased through Confirmation. In God’s calling for us to a certain vocation, God walks with us in Marriage or Holy Orders. When sickness or anxiety weigh us down, God lifts us up through the Anointing of the Sick. At each of the significant moments in our life, God gives grace!

But, as Sri points out, the Sacraments are not magic. “The impact a sacrament has in our lives depends on the dispositions we bring to them. The seeds of sacramental grace are sown, but how much they bear fruit in our lives depends on what kind of “soil” in our souls those seeds meet.

Reflection Questions –

  • What role do sacraments play in your daily life, spiritual life and in prayer?
  • With what disposition do I approach the sacraments? Do I expect to find Christ there?

Share your thoughts!