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The Christophers: Finding God's Grace in the Sacraments


Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.

 

Thirteenth century Italian mystic Saint Angela of Foligno wrote, “Christ appeared not as a philosopher of many words or as one who disputed noisily…but in the utmost simplicity did He talk with men, showing them the way of truth in His life, His virtues, and His miracles.” These words point to a profound reality about the way in which Christ invites us into a relationship that is simple and seamless in how it blends into the rhythm of our lives, yet is also miraculous and transformative.

If we want to know what it must have been like to encounter Christ and to experience that gentle, merciful aspect of His character, if we want to respond to Christ’s invitation to understand God’s wisdom through the simplicity of a loving relationship with Him, we can partake in the sacraments of our faith. The best way to invite Christ into the rhythm of our lives is to immerse ourselves in the sacraments because that is where God’s grace is most readily available in this world.

In a piece she wrote for Loyola Press, entitled A Little Reminder on Why the Sacraments Are a Really Big Deal, award-winning writer Elizabeth Kelly says, “They have the power to bring heaven to earth, rip the veil between all things seen and unseen, and allow humanity and eternity to commingle in mysterious, yet palpable ways. Through the sacraments, heaven comes, not just to visit, but to live with us and in us. In the sacraments, we are graced.”

Sharing this reflection ahead of the ordination of her brother to the priesthood, Kelly was prompted by the realization that an indelible spiritual mark was about to be imprinted upon his soul. This sense of awe should surround our participation in all the sacraments, as each one truly does place its own unique and indelible mark upon our souls.

Detailing the unifying yet varying purposes of the sacraments, Bishop Robert Barron writes: “All the sacraments have a deifying purpose: Baptism introduces the Divine Life into us. Confession restores it when it’s lost through sin. Confirmation strengthens it. Matrimony and Holy Orders give it vocational direction. Anointing of the Sick prepares us for the transition to our heavenly homeland. And the Eucharist is meant to Christify us.”

Looking at the nature of the sacraments in this way, we can see how they are the gift Christ has given to the Church to accompany us on our journey through life. For those of us who partake regularly in the sacraments, let’s set about to renew our zeal and sense of awe over this grace-filled aspect of our lives. And let’s also be sure to give witness through the love we have in our hearts so that others can discover or rediscover this tremendous wellspring of God’s grace. We should focus specifically on giving witness to the transcendent nature of the sacraments for the young people in our lives. As Elizabeth Kelly writes: “It is particularly important for us to teach children that sacraments are so much more than a ceremony to prepare for; they are God’s way of reaching down to us and offering us a lifelong gift – a gift of grace that gives us a glimpse of heaven and a taste of eternity.”

So, let’s recognize Christ alive today within the sacraments, and let’s meet Him there as often as possible and cultivate that profound relationship that blends into the rhythm of our lives and opens our hearts to the path of holiness.

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note FINDING HOPE IN CHRIST’S RESURRECTION, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org

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