24th Sunday of OT (B)
September 14, 2018
March for our climate
September 17, 2018

Our other Sacraments

Priest seeing a patient in a hospital

September is Catechetical Month in this archdiocese. Fr Gabriel Julien offers some thoughts in a two-part series on the Sacraments. Part one appeared in the September 9 issue.

The Sacrament of Confirmation: Through Baptism people are reborn into God’s family and Confirmation gives them the grace to reach Christian maturity. They are anointed with Chrism and they become like Christ. Just as Christ was anointed by the Father, (Jn 1: 32) Christ confirmed the disciples (Jn 20:22) and gave them the Holy Spirit. In Confirmation, people receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The Sacrament of Penance: Through the Sacraments of Penance, Confession or Reconciliation people are reconciled to Jesus. This act of forgiveness is explicitly visible in the passage of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11–32).  Jesus passed on this ministry to the disciples in Matthew 16:19 and John 20:23.  In addition, the early Christian confessed their sins to the elders or the priests (Jas 5:16).

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick strengthens and commends people to Christ.  It is seen as an extension of Christ’s ministry. The letter of James 5:14–15 teaches that the elders or priests ought to minister this Sacrament.  It is interesting to note that this Sacrament is administered often with the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist.

In the Old Testament (1 Sam 10: 1–9) kings, prophets and priests were anointed with olive oil when they were installed. Oil is used as nourishment in food, fuel for lamps, and as a base of medicine. Oil is also used to moisten the skin and to soothe and loosen limbs. Healing occurs in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick through the laying of hands (Acts 8:17–18).

We enter God’s family through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and the Eucharist and we proceed to our heavenly home through the Sacraments of Anointing, Penance and Eucharist.

Anointing empowers the sick to suffer like Christ since Jesus, the Perfect One, (Heb 2:10) suffered. Through suffering, Christ draws us closer to Himself (2 Cor 12:19) and we make reparation for our sins. Paul in his letter to the Colossians 1: 24, states that he is happy to suffer for Christ.

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist is the summit of life because according to 1 Corinthians 10:17 we participate in the Body and Blood of Christ. At the Eucharist, we participate in the breaking of bread (Lk 24:35). Furthermore, we are given special graces to understand the scriptures (Lk 24:33). Therefore, the Mass is a representation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and its riches are unfathomable and inexhaustible. Although Colossians 1:24 and Ephesians 1:22–23 teach that in the Eucharist we actually share in the mystical body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:22 states that we must have the proper disposition to receive Jesus.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders

In the Bible, priests were regarded as spiritual fathers. In the book of Genesis, the priestly paternity was very clear and there was no separation of priestly caste. Thus, the family and the Church were one and fathers passed on the priesthood to their first-born sons.  When Israel sinned, God confined the priesthood to Levites because they were faithful. Judges 18:19 shows that the Levites were invited to become priests.

In the fullness of time, God sent His Son (Heb 1:6), His First Born, Jesus, who is a priest forever. In Hebrews 10:21, Jesus came to restore a natural priesthood and to establish a supernatural priesthood. Thus, Jesus passed on the priesthood to the apostles and the apostles ordained bishops, priest and deacons, Acts 14:23, 20:17, Philippians 1:1 and Titus 1:5–9, and the priests give life through the Sacraments.

The Sacrament of Matrimony

The Bible presents marriage as a metaphor for the union of God and His people.  This theme begins in the Old Testament and finds its fullest expression in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 5:31. Paul states that marriage is a profound mystery and it refers to the marriage of Christ and the Church. Thus, the bond that Christ has with the Church is indissoluble and forever. Hence, Christ makes matrimony a Sacrament. Before Christ, marriage was a natural phenomenon or a covenanted union. Christ established a new family in His own flesh and blood.

By Fr Gabriel Julien