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Posts Tagged ‘Sacrament’

Eucharist is not magic

In Uncategorized on 2014/06/13 at 12:00 AM

Pope Francis gave special emphasis to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, saying that it is not magical act, but an encounter with the living God.

Pope Francis delivered this to those who gathered in the Vatican’s guest house, Santa Marta, for a private liturgy.

The Holy Father drew his reflections from the morning’s reading from the passage in psalms, “We will go with joy to the House of the Lord,” saying to those gathered that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is not a “magic rite,” but rather an encounter with Jesus, who is our constant companion in life.

Throughout the history of God’s people, the Pope said, there have been many “beautiful moments which bring joy,” but also moments “of pain, martyrdom and sin.”

However, the Pope noted that “God, who has no History because He is eternal, desired to make History by walking alongside His people.”

“He decided to become one of us, and as one of us, to walk with us through Jesus.”

Pope Francis stressed that this act not only shows us the greatness of God, but also his humility, saying that when his people strayed from him “in sin and idolatry,” he did not abandon them, but “He was there” waiting for their return.

Jesus shows us the same humility, said the Pope, in that “he walks with the People of God, walks with the sinners; walks also with the arrogant,” adding that Jesus did much to “help these arrogant hearts of the Pharisees.”

The Church, stressed the pontiff, can rejoice in the humility of God which accompanies us as “We go with joy to the House of the Lord.”

“We go with joy because He accompanies us, He is with us…and the Lord Jesus, even in our personal lives, accompanies us with the Sacraments. The Sacrament is not a magic rite: it is an encounter with Jesus Christ; we encounter the Lord – it is He who is beside us and accompanies us.”

(CNA/EWTN News).

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Relationship Between Faith and Marriage

In 07 Observations on 2013/03/08 at 12:00 AM

The Holy Father’ address focused on the relationship between faith and marriage in light of the “current crisis of faith that affects various areas of the world, bearing with it a crisis of conjugal society.”

“The Code of Canon Law defines the natural reality of marriage as the irrevocable covenant between a man and a woman. Mutual trust, in fact, is the indispensable basis of any agreement or covenant. On a theological level, the relationship between faith and marriage has an even deeper meaning. Even though a natural reality, the spousal bond between two baptised persons has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”

“Contemporary culture, marked by a strong subjectivism and an ethical and religious relativism, poses serious challenges to the person and the family. First, the very capacity of human beings to bond themselves to another and whether a union that lasts an entire life is truly possible. … Thinking that persons might become themselves while remaining ‘autonomous’ and only entering into relationships with others that can be interrupted at any time is part of a widespread mentality. Everyone is aware of how a human being’s choice to bind themself with a bond lasting an entire life influences each person’s basic perspective according to which they are either anchored to a merely human plane or open themselves to the light of faith in the Lord.”

“‘Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing,’ Jesus taught His disciples, reminding them of the human being’s essential incapacity to carry out alone that which is necessary for the true good. Rejecting the divine proposal leads, in fact, to a profound imbalance in all human relationships, including marriage, and facilitates an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization. These, together with the flight from patiently borne suffering, condemns humanity to becoming locked within its own selfishness and self-centredness. On the contrary, accepting faith makes human persons capable of giving themselves … and thus of discovering the extent of being a human person.”

“Faith in God, sustained by God’s grace, is therefore a very important element in living mutual devotion and conjugal faithfulness. This does not mean to assert that faithfulness, among other properties, are not possible in the legitimate marriage between unbaptised couples. In fact, it is not devoid of goods that ‘come from God the Creator and are included, in a certain inchoative way, in the marital love that unites Christ with His Church’. But, of course, closing oneself off from God or rejecting the sacred dimension of the conjugal bond and its value in the order of grace make the concrete embodiment of the highest model of marriage conceived of by the Church, according to God’s plan, arduous. It may even undermine the very validity of the covenant if … it results in a rejection of the very principle of the conjugal obligation of faithfulness or of other essential elements or properties of the marriage.”

“Tertullian, in his famous “Letter to His Wife”, which speaks about married life marked by faith, writes that Christian couples are truly ‘two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining one another.’”

“The saints who lived their matrimonial and familial union within a Christian perspective were able to overcome even the most adverse situations, sometimes achieving the sanctification of their spouse and children through a love reinforced by a strong faith in God, sincere religious piety, and an intense sacramental life. Such experiences, marked by faith, allow us to understand, even today, how precious is the sacrifice offered by the spouse who has been abandoned or who has suffered a divorce—’being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble, and refraining from becoming involved in a new union. … In such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church’.”

Lastly, I would like to reflect briefly on the ‘bonum coniugum’. Faith is important in carrying out the authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in wanting, always and in every case, the welfare of the other, on the basis of a true and indissoluble ‘consortium vitae’. Indeed, the context of Christian spouses living a true ‘communio coniugalis’ has its own dynamism of faith by which the ‘confessio’—the personal, sincere response to the announcement of salvation—involves the believer in the action of God’s love. ‘Confessio’ and ‘caritas’ are ‘the two ways in which God involves us, make us act with Him, in Him and for humanity, for His creation. … “Confessio” is not an abstract thing, it is “caritas”, it is love. Only in this way is it really the reflection of divine truth, which as truth is also, inseparably, love’.”

“Only through the call of love, does the presence of the Gospel become not just a word but a living reality. In other words, while it is true that ‘Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt’, we must conclude that ‘Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.’ If this holds true in the broader context of communal life, it should be even more valuable to the conjugal union. It is in that union, in fact, that faith makes the spouses’ love grow and bear fruit, giving space to the presence of the Triune God and making the conjugal life itself, lived thusly, to be ‘joyful news’ to the world.”

“I recognize the difficulties, from a legal and a practical perspective, in elucidating the essential element of the ‘bonum coniugum’, understood so far mainly in relation to the circumstance of invalidity. The ‘bonum coniugum’ also takes on importance in the area of simulating consent. Certainly, in cases submitted to your judgement, there will be an ‘in facto’ inquiry that can verify the possible validity of the grounds for annulment, predominant to or coexistent with the three Augustinian ‘goods’: procreativity, exclusivity, and perpetuity. Therefore, don’t let it escape your consideration that there might be cases where, precisely because of the absence of faith, the good of the spouses is damaged and thus excluded from the consent itself. For example, this can happen when one member of the couple has an erroneous understanding of the martial bond or of the principle of parity or when there is a refusal of the dual union that characterizes the marital bond by either excluding fidelity or by excluding the use of intercourse ‘humano modo’.

“With these considerations I certainly do not wish to suggest any facile relationship between a lack of faith and the invalidity of a marital union, but rather to highlight how such a deficiency may, but not necessarily, damage the goods of marriage, since the reference to the natural order desired by God is inherent to the conjugal covenant.”

VIS 130128

“Married life: an occasion for God’s presence on earth”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/01/11 at 9:30 AM
There are many good reasons to honor Saint Joseph, and to learn from his life. He was a man of strong faith. He earned a living for his family – Jesus and Mary – with his own hard work. He guarded the purity of the Blessed Virgin, who was his Spouse. And he respected – he loved! – God’s freedom, when God made his choice: not only his choice of Our Lady the Virgin as his Mother, but also his choice of Saint Joseph as the Husband of Holy Mary. (The Forge, 552)

When I think of christian homes, I like to imagine them as being full of the light and joy that were in the home of the holy family. The message of Christmas is heard in all its forcefulness: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will” [1]. “And may the peace of Christ triumph in your hearts,” writes the Apostle [2]. It is a peace that comes from knowing that our Father God loves us, and that we are made one with Christ. It results from being under the protection of the Virgin, our Lady, and assisted by St Joseph. This is the great light that illuminates our lives. In the midst of difficulties and of our own personal failings, it encourages us to keep up our effort. Every christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep‑rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice.

For a Christian marriage is not just a social institution, much less a mere remedy for human weakness. It is a real supernatural calling. A great sacrament, in Christ and in the Church, says St Paul [3]. At the same time, it is a permanent contract between a man and a woman. Whether we like it or not, the sacrament of matrimony, instituted by Christ, cannot be dissolved. It is a permanent contract that sanctifies in cooperation with Jesus Christ. He fills the souls of husband and wife and invites them to follow him. He transforms their whole married life into an occasion for God’s presence on earth. (Christ is passing by, 22-23)

[1] Luke 2:14
[2] Col 3:15
[3] Eph 5:32

“He is there, with his Flesh and with his Blood”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/04/03 at 11:09 AM
“This is my Body …”, and the immolation of Jesus took place, hidden under the appearances of the bread. He is now there, with his Flesh and with his Blood, with his Soul and with his Divinity. He is the same as on the day that Thomas placed his fingers in His glorious Wounds. And yet, on so many occasions, you saunter by, giving not even a hint of a greeting out of simple good manners that you would give to any person you knew when you met him. You have much less faith than Thomas! (Furrow, 684)

The Creator has loved his creatures to such an extent. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as though all the other proofs of his mercy were insufficient, institutes the Eucharist so that he can always be close to us. We can only understand up to a point that he does so because Love moves him, who needs nothing, not to want to be separated from us. The Blessed Trinity has fallen in love with man, raised to the level of grace and made “to God’s image and likeness” [1]. God has redeemed him from sin — from the sin of Adam, inherited by all his descendants, as well as from his personal sins — and desires ardently to dwell in his soul: “If anyone love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him” [2].

The Blessed Trinity’s love for man is made permanent in a sublime way through the Eucharist. Many years ago, we all learned from our catechism that the Eucharist can be considered as a sacrifice and as a sacrament; and that the sacrament is present to us both in communion and as a treasure on the altar, in the tabernacle. The Church dedicates another feast to the eucharistic mystery — the feast of the body of Christ, Corpus Christi, present in all the tabernacles of the world. (Christ is passing by, 84-85)

[1] Gen 1:26
[2] John 14:23

Pastoral Reflection: The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/08/25 at 12:00 AM

Last year, our parish was involved in more than 40 funerals.  These are a reminder of the importance of the pastoral care of the sick and the dying.  In a sense, we should all be preparing for the day when we will be called from this life to our eternal reward.  Among the spiritual preparations for eternal life is the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  We need to remember that the Sacrament of Anointing is not solely reserved for the dying but that it is also for the sick.  Almost 50 years ago, the Bishops of the Second Vatican Council made this point in the Document on the Liturgy, SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM, of December 4, 1963: “Extreme Unction,” which may also and more fittingly be called “Anointing of the Sick, is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death.  Hence, as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrive.” [#73]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists two sacraments of healing: The Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.  The Lord Jesus in the Divine Physician of our bodies and souls.  Recall that during His public ministry, the Lord forgave the sins of the paralytic and also restore him to bodily health [Matt.9: 2-8]  There is a link between bodily and spiritual health.  The will of the Lord is that His healing ministry continues in the Church through His priests.  In the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, there is a conferral of grace and a prayer for the healing of body and soul.  There are times when a spiritual healing may actually be more profound than a physical healing.  Our illness or sufferings may be a sharing in the cross of Christ.

There are several Scriptural references for anointing.  A Scriptural basis for the Sacrament of Anointing is the following from the Letter of St. James: “Is anyone among you suffering?  He should pray.  Is anyone in good spirits?  He should sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick?  He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up.  If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.  [James 5:13-15]

The oil that is used for the Sacrament of Anointing is blessed in the Cathedral by the bishop during the Chrism Mass during Holy Week.  There are two anointings in the celebration of the sacrament.  First the priest anoints the forehead with the words, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in His love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.”  The hands are then anointed with the words, “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”

The sacrament has the following effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ for his or her own good and for that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; the forgiveness of sin (if the person is not able to obtain forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance); the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul and the preparation for the passing of this life to eternal life.  [Catechism, 1532]

The Catechism teaches that anyone who is preparing for surgery should request the Sacrament of Anointing.  The practice of anesthesia itself is risky.  The sacrament is appropriate for anyone who has chronic pain, a terminal illness, a mental illness or for one who is advance in year.  Sometimes a parishioner will inform me that he or she recently had surgery.  “I have asked, Did you call the parish office?”  Sometimes I hear the following: “No, I knew that you were busy so I didn’t want to bother you.”  “Priests,  particularly pastors, should remember that is is their duty to care for the sick by personal visits and other acts of kindness. [#35] If you or one of your loved ones is in need of the sacrament, please call me.  Prior to surgery, one may request the sacrament at the sacristy after on of the Masses.  Since my ordination, I have spent part of each week visiting parishioners who are hospitalized, in nursing homes or who are homebound.  I enjoy these visits.  In peace, Fr. Mark

Fr. Mark Lawlor is the pastor of the Catholic Parish of St. Vincent Catholic in Charlotte, North Carolina.