Category: Sacraments

There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction. All are outward signs instituted by Jesus Christ for the bestowal of sanctifying grace. Five of these sacraments must never be approached unless the recipient’s soul is free of mortal sin and in the state of grace. They are called sacraments of the living. Although technically the two remaining, Baptism and Penance, are called sacraments of the dead, Penance can be received by a penitent who is in the state of grace. It was instituted primarily for those who have fallen into serious sin after Baptism, but it can also be effective in lessening the penitent’s attachment to venial sin and in reducing the punishment due to sin in purgatory.

Each of the sacraments has its own special spiritual effect. With three of them, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, an indelible mark, called a character, is imprinted forever on our soul. And, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, each of the seven correspond to the natural life of a man. Baptism, our rebirth in the Spirit as children of God, corresponds to our physical birth. Confirmation, which makes us soldiers of Christ and strengthens us in the Holy Ghost as mature members of the Church, corresponds to our physical maturation as leaving behind childhood and becoming young adult men and women. We are anointed with oil as are wrestlers who must do battle against the devil in the ring of life. Penance, in which sacrament the sickness caused by sin is forgiven, corresponds to the medicinal aid we receive when our bodies are ill. The priest is our doctor. Holy Eucharist, our spiritual Food so necessary for the soul, corresponds to the physical food necessary for the body. Holy Orders, the sacrament deputing one to the ministry of the three major orders of the priesthood, corresponds to our deputation in society, first as parents, then as leaders in government. Matrimony, which existed as an institution from the beginning with Adam and Eve, for the procreation of the race, was elevated as a grace-conferring sacrament by Christ Himself. Extreme Unction, also called the sacrament of the sick or annointing, is our spiritual final anointing to strengthen us for the final passage from this life to the next.

The Battle for Marriage

There is a close parallel between the battle over the indissolubility of marriage now taking place in the Church and the contraception debacle of the late 1960s. Pope John XXIII started, and Pope Paul VI greatly expanded, the Papal Commission on … Continue reading

Give Us This Day Our Supersubstantial Bread

In his weekly column for the Washington DC Archdiocesan website, Monsignor Charles Pope raises the question of the meaning of the word used by Saints Matthew and Luke in the petition for “our daily bread” in the Our Father prayer.