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The Sacraments

The Seven Sacraments

 

The principal means of uniting yourself to God
are the sacraments and prayer.
—St. Francis de Sales

 

 

The sacraments of the Catholic Church derive their origin directly from Christ Our Lord.  They are extensions of His saving actions through time and space.  They continue the mysteries of the His life and death, resurrection and ascension, and unite us to His divinity through His humanity.  Insofar as we are well disposed, we receive into our soul the particular grace which they bestow, and even Jesus Christ, Our Lord—body, blood, soul and divinity—in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion).

The Sacrament of Baptism comes from the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.  “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.(Matt. 3:13)  Before ascending into heaven Jesus said to His disciples, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.   Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.(Matt. 28:18-20)

The Sacrament of Penance (Confession / Reconciliation) comes from Christ Our Savior after His Resurrection when He appeared to His apostles.  “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’” (John 20:23)

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.  “Then he took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you. Do this in commemoration of me.’  In like manner, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be poured out for you.’” (Luke 22:19-20)

The Sacrament of Confirmation comes from Christ in heaven after His Ascension when, together with the Father, He sends the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in full measure in the “rush of a powerful wind” and divided tongues of fire.  “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like the rush of a powerful wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them divided tongues, as it were of fire, which came to rest on each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)

The Sacrament of Holy Orders comes in three degrees—deacon, priest, and bishop—as can be seen from the lives of the Apostles.  As spiritual beginners in the purgative way they were ordained deacons by Christ Our Lord when He sent them out for the ministry of service.  “Calling to himself the twelve, he began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over unclean (evil) spirits.  And having gone forth, they were preaching in order that people might repent, and they drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.(Mark 6:7,12-13)  As spiritual proficients in the illuminative way they were ordained priests by Christ, the “great high priest,” at the Last Supper when He gave them the spiritual power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by saying, “Do this in commemoration of me. (Heb. 4:14)(Luke 22:19)  As spiritually mature or perfect Christians in the unitive way they were ordained bishops by Christ Our Lord on Pentecost Sunday when, together with the Father, He gave them the spiritual power to fulfill the “Great Commission” by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit in full measure.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the very end of the world. (Matt. 28:19-20)

The Sacrament of Marriage comes from Christ the Lord at the Wedding Feast in Cana. “On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus also was invited to the marriage. (John 2:1-2)  In His first public miracle, He turns water into wine as a sign of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. (John 2:9)  The natural love between husband and wife is blessed and raised up by the presence of Christ with “divine wine”—God’s grace and charity—in their hearts and souls.

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick comes from Christ the Divine Doctor who heals the whole person, both the spiritual and the physical, even if the physical cure is only temporary until the resurrection of the body.  “There was a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years.  When she had heard about Jesus, she came in the crowd behind him, and touched his garment.  Immediately her flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.  Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my garments?’  Then the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace, and be free of your affliction.’” (Mark 5:25,27,29-30,33-34)  Our Lord and Savior gave this healing power to His apostles. (Mark 6:13)  Even today, Catholic priests continue to exercise that saving ministry, especially the healing of the soul, the spiritual part.  “Is anyone sick among you?  Let him call for the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.(James 5:14-15)  Particularly, near the end of life, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given as part of “the last rites” or “the last sacraments,” which may also include—Confession and Holy Communion.

 

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