Sacraments 101: Volume 15 - In Closing…
Over the last year or so, we’ve looked at the seven Sacraments of the Church as instituted and handed down to us by Jesus Himself and His Catholic Church. In these articles, we explored some of the theological foundations for each Sacrament. We also saw how each Sacrament bestows certain graces to help us grow in the Christian life. And we covered the two main components that “make up” each Sacrament: the matter and the form.
In closing this series, I would like to thank Mr. Wayne Gignac for allowing me to contribute these monthly articles to the Four County Catholic. Through writing these columns on the Sacraments, it has helped to deepen my understanding of the riches that God gives to us through the unsurpassed gifts that are the Sacraments.
Lastly, I think it is fitting to highlight one Sacrament in particular: the Holy Eucharist. Throughout the past year, I received a few handwritten notes (thank you to the senders) requesting further discussion on the Holy Eucharist. I think that this desire is an appropriate one.
The Second Vatican Council described the Eucharist as “the Source and Summit of our Faith (Lumen Gentium 11).” The Eucharist occupies a significant place in the history of the Church. The Eucharist is not a “what” but a “who.”
The Eucharist is the real flesh and blood of Jesus made present to us under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. This reality should continually shock us to the point of amazement and adoration.
Again, as God’s Providence would have it (As I said it last month, His timing is always impeccable), as I write this closing article, the U.S. bishops are planning a national Eucharistic revival here in our country. I believe that such a revival will produce abundant fruit in the Church.
We need to be constantly awakened to the grace of God given in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. In the short time that I’ve been a priest, it has struck me how easy it is for even the holiest and most sacred things to become mere routine. For those of us accustomed to receiving Holy Communion regularly, we can easily lose sight of just what a Gift the Eucharist is. This should be before our minds every time we receive Holy Communion. It is the God of the universe whom we approach and receive in our hand or on our tongue. No matter how often we reflect on this reality, the Lord will always have more to show us.
I recently came across some words written by the novelist Annie Dillard. She was reflecting on the radical power that lies beneath our worship of Almighty God. I think her words suit Holy Communion as well. To close a series on the Sacraments, I can’t think of more fitting words: “Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke?... The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning…we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping [G]od may wake someday and take offense, or the waking [G]od may draw us to where we can never return (Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, 40-41).”
May the Sacraments always be instruments for us to receive and be transformed by the very life of God Himself.
By Father Michael Bovino