Baptism — Sacrament of Sonship
God is my Father! How can I fathom such a privilege? One moment I was a creature of an all-powerful God, and then suddenly the Sacrament of Baptism raised me to a dignity I cannot even imagine.
Before Creation, God chose me to be and then He chose me again to be His own Child. His love drew me to Himself by adopting me as His son. To make that sonship real and not imaginary He took up His dwelling in my soul. God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — lives in me. Why doesn’t this reality possess my mind and move my heart to love Him more? Perhaps my difficulty lies in the enormity of this truth. Is it too great a mystery for my small mind to fathom? I fear I must admit it is the obligations of such a reality that make me tuck this truth away behind more mundane things where it is buried out of sight.
I am in His Presence everywhere I go. I should give Him to everyone I meet by being a son in deed and word. My attitude towards my neighbor should be one of love, humility, and goodness. Those attributes of God, my Father, must radiate in me so all men recognize Jesus in me.
By Baptism I inherit His very own qualities, so I must be careful that no trial makes me anxious, no privation makes me worry, no pain makes me despair, no demands make me selfish, for I am a son of God — the same God whose providence takes care of the grass that fades and the birds that fall from the air — the same God who chose me from among millions of possible human beings to know and love Him — the same God who watches over me as if I were the only creature of His Hands. Today I will think often of my sonship — His Love for me, and how I must radiate that love to my neighbor.
Confession — Sacrament of Reconciliation
Sin is a weapon that wounds God, my neighbor, and myself. I cannot allow the realization that I cannot hurt God in His person, cloud the reality that whatever I do to my neighbor I do to Him. His Will has ordained that whatever evil or good I do — He is the recipient. “Why do you persecute Me?” He asked Paul (Acts 9:4). “I was hungry and you gave Me to eat,” He told His Apostles (see Matt. 25:35).
Because I am His Temple, sin defiles this temple, for my will chooses self over God — for a moment the temple becomes totally mine and God is asked to leave. I prefer myself to Him — I prefer my own good to my neighbor’s good.
When Jesus gave me the parable of the Prodigal Son He gave me an example of this triple effect of sin. The wayward son offended his father by disobedience; he offended society by his bad example; and he offended himself by becoming unworthy to eat even the food of pigs.
His humble repentance moved him to return first to his father and seek forgiveness, and then it was he began to repair the damage done to society. His humble repentance gave others a sense of goodness in mercy. His father’s forgiveness restored his dignity as a son. His conversion from evil gave society the good example it so badly needed. The prodigal knew of his father’s goodness while he was still in exile, but his human nature needed to hear the words of forgiveness with his own ears — he needed human assurance.
I too have this need. The Father has given me the opportunity of hearing words of merciful love and feeling the burden of sin lift from my soul. Jesus presents Himself in the person of the priest to absolve me from my sins, heal my weaknesses, and restore my friendship with the Father. In reconciling myself with God, I am ready to love my neighbor with a deeper love and with unselfish motives.
Eucharist — Sacrament of Growth
It is beyond my comprehension to imagine God becoming man! I cannot understand such love for me. I am accustomed to limited love, and I find myself at a loss before the sight of Unlimited Love. Why am I in such a quandary? At least He had a human nature — a God-man, someone who ate, drank, slept, worked, spoke, and suffered.
It would seem that His love had reached its limits for God to lower Himself to such depths — but no — His love contrived a means by which He could come down to earth, redeem mankind, return triumphant to His Father, and yet stay with me during my earthly journey.
He would lower Himself to even greater depths of humility and obedience. He would continue to give me a living example of patience, love, and humility — He would be my solace in distress, my confidant in sorrow, my food for the journey, my grace to change, my joy in success, and my comfort in failure.
He gives me an example of obedience, for He comes down in the form of bread at the command of His priests. He stays in the tabernacle day after day, month after month, year after year, just so I may go to Him with my joys and sorrows. He humbles Himself and becomes my food so His own Body and Blood may course through my veins and I may be able to grow into His Image and please the Father.
He assured me that without Him I could do nothing, and it is His Presence in me that gives me eternal life. It is like Heaven all the way to Heaven.
Holy Communion permits me to share in His virtues so when the occasion to be virtuous arises, I possess within my very soul all the invisible qualities I need to bear fruit. My neighbor must see the results of every Communion by its effect in my daily life.
I must remember that through the frequent reception of this Sacrament, love and grace grow together in my soul. Through frequent visits to Jesus in the tabernacle, the spirit of prayer brings peace to my soul and through the power of the Eucharist in my Church and in my soul, the whole world is blessed, the enemy vanquished, and all mankind benefited.
Confirmation — Sacrament of Mission
When the Father called me out of nothingness He gave me life — when I was Baptized, He gave me sonship, but in Confirmation He gave me a mission — a purpose — a work to accomplish. This was the day of the Gift of Talents — talents I am expected to use, trade with, and increase.
Baptism gave me ten talents — Faith, Hope, Love, Fear of the Lord, Piety, Fortitude, Counsel, Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom. Throughout the years Baptism gave me a new dignity, Confession restored my friendship with God and neighbor, and Communion nourished my soul, making it grow strong in the Lord.
My life was a constant growing process of these three Sacraments, and as I reached a kind of spiritual teenage, Confirmation put upon my soul the finishing touch to everything I needed to bear fruit.
It was the day God said to me, “Go out and trade until I come.” These four Sacraments must bear such great fruit in my soul that all men will know by my word and example that “Jesus is Lord” and that He loves them as much as the Father loves Him (John 17:23).
Is my heart engrossed in spiritual realities or visible possessions? Can I perceive the Voice of the Spirit as He inspires me in Scripture and speaks to my soul? Is God’s Presence around me and within me the source of my joy?
The answers to these questions will tell me whether I am growing and trading well with my ten talents. God forbid that when He comes He finds I have buried them all.
Matrimony — Sacrament of Union
Every Sacrament is an encounter with Jesus through the Holy Spirit — each one is a channel of grace — a visible sign of an invisible reality. I should look upon the Sacrament of Matrimony, not only as the union of two people into one, a union whose love cooperates with God in the continual creation of man, but as an image of the Trinity on earth. Every married couple and the children who proceed from that union should also remind me of the union of Christ with the Church, the union of Jesus with the soul, and the union of the members of the Mystical Body with Jesus, their Head.
In our family life, man represents the Eternal Father, and like the Father he is to be compassionate, merciful, provident, wise, protective, creative, and good; woman, who was taken from man, as Scripture tells us, represents Jesus in the family circle. Like Jesus she is to be a bond of reconciliation, gentle, loving, intuitive, sensitive to the needs of others, humble, and an example of patient suffering. Children represent the Spirit, for as the Spirit proceeds from Father and Son, so children proceed from father and mother.
They, like the Spirit, are a power that generates love, joy, and peace. They are to be obedient, thoughtful, considerate, helpful, and ever work toward unity among one another.
This earthly image of the Trinity that we call family life is not an unrealistic goal, but the obligation of every Christian family. Cities and nations are as strong as the families that live within them and the Christian family is God’s message to the world. The message of peace and love are not spread by lovely individuals, but by members of families whose love for God has taught them how people of varying temperaments can live together in peace.
As the members of a family strive to grow in the position they hold in their family life, the whole Body of Christ grows stronger, the Church’s Witnessing role is more powerful, and mankind is guided in the right path.
The home that has the Father as its Lord, Jesus as its Image, and the Spirit as its Guide possesses love, and that kind of love will change the world.
Holy Orders — Sacrament of Priesthood
Although Confirmation has made me a member of a priestly family in which I offer Jesus to the Father at every Mass, I should look at the Sacrament of Priesthood as it is given to those chosen sons of God — the ordained priests. How does his personal gift from God affect my daily life?
Little thought is necessary before I realize that without this Sacrament my daily life would be in darkness. It is the Priest whose consecrated hands bring down Jesus from Heaven. His words and power make ordinary bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ. When I fall into sin, his hands are raised in absolution and the Mercy of God covers me like a mantle. He pours water over my head and makes me a child of God, anoints my head with chrism, and brings down the Spirit to fill me with Gifts.
He anoints my sick body with oil and brings upon me the healing power of Jesus. He discerns for me in matters of Faith and Morals and teaches me the way to God. He makes my parents one flesh, and as they grow old, he comforts them in their sorrows and prepares their souls for the journey home.
The question then is not how the Priest affects my life, but how I affect his. Am I loyal to him even when I see him imperfect? Do I forgive him his transgressions as he forgives mine? Do I extend my hand when he falls as his hand extends to me?
Am I critical over the splinter in his eye, when week after week I confess to him the beam in my own? Do I defend him before his enemies and overlook his defects? Am I willing to sacrifice my time for his sake as he does for mine? Do I ever thank him for his hard work and praise him for a job well done? Do I pray for him daily and ask God to make him holy?
Perhaps if I treated him with loving respect, gentle understanding, grateful praise, and brotherly forbearance, his life would be less lonely, his apostolate more fruitful, and his spiritual life more at peace. We must help each other as we faithfully follow the mission God has given to each of us.
Anointing — Sacrament of Healing
God pursues my soul throughout my life. When I am ill His Priest prays for my healing and places oil upon my brow as a sign of God’s protection and care. He knew my soul would be at peace when I had a visible sign of His personal love. His loving providence designed that inner healing and renewed strength be mine even when my illness continued.
Jesus suffered from all the trials, pain, disappointments, and daily cares that are my portion. He realized from personal experience that death and its accompanying suffering would fill me with fears of the unknown.
To take away these fears He told me of Heaven and the specific place He would prepare for me. To comfort me He sends His Priest to anoint my body to obtain strength for the journey and absolve me from sin so my garments are pure white. He gives Himself to me in Holy Communion in order to be my companion from this life to the next. He promises me that angels will be with me and His own Mother will intercede for me.
This Sacrament is so powerful that if the Bridegroom should say, “Come” to me and I have given all things into His Hands and accepted death as His Holy Will with perfect peace, He and I shall go together to meet the Father face-to-face. This Sacrament will have placed the last jewel on my crown, the last pearl on my garment, the last ring on my finger, the last act of love that makes eternal life more glorious and my Vision of God more resplendent.
To the very last He draws good out of everything for my sake. His judgment will be merciful, His Love forever mine, His joy continually filling my soul to overflowing, and His knowledge enlightening my mind. Eternal Light will envelop a tiny spark, and at last we will be joined together as one Light — eternally.