Anthony Church there. The sermon seemed aimed at him. He called on Father Becker, the pastor. In due time he took instructions and became a Catholic, June, , at the age of 22, taking the name of Valentine. Many of his fellow Jews, learning of his conversion, made life miserable for him. His own sister led the persecution. But he persevered. He married a splendid Catholic woman, who helped him rear a large family. All of them are now happily married. The greatest delight of the grandfather is to teach his grandchildren the Angelus, and to take them to Mass which he attends daily.
He is an active, zealous Catholic. What happened to Christian, the Catholic boy? Often the boyhood friends exchanged letters filled with admiration of the wonderful ways of God and filled with devotion to Mary and the Angelus. The Angelus is a devotion in honor of the Incarnation of our Lord, recited morning, noon and evening, to the sound of a bell. It consists of three little verses each followed by a Hail Mary. After the third Hail Mary there is a response and a prayer. That angel announced the most important news ever brought to earth.
That angel spoke of the greatest fact in all history, the fact that the Son of God became man, was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Mother Church wants us never to forget that fact. She wants us to think of it at least three times every day. From Catholic steeples throughout the land she calls to her children to remember prayerfully this Greatest event of all time. The Angelus devotion developed gradually. The people began to use these words as a daily prayer. Finally, after several changes, the Angelus took the form which it has today.
If you want the biblical background of this devotion and the words of this prayer, read the Gospel story as found in the first chapter of St. Luke from verse 26 to From this passage the first half of the Hail Mary and the first and second versicles and their responses are taken, while the third versicle and response are from the Gospel according to St.
The Angelus brings an indulgence of 10 years for each recitation, and a plenary indulgence once a month for those who say it three times every day. It may be said standing or kneeling. The whole Angelus, as commonly printed, has to be recited. Those who do not know the prayers by heart, or who are unable to read them, may say five Hail Marys in their place. Calling to mind the presence of God is one of the best means to perfection.
The Angelus helps us to remember that God is near, by raising our thoughts to Him morning, noon and night. It revives our remembrance of the principal mysteries of our religion. In particular, it helps us recall the thrilling fact that the Son of God became man, and it helps us remember the virginal motherhood of Mary, His Mother. The Angelus keeps us in contact with Jesus and Mary. It revives our remembrance of the basic truths of our faith. It enlivens hope. It enkindles love. It awakens gratitude. Say the Angelus every time you hear the church bells, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
It was a means of bringing a Jew into the Church. It can be a means of growing in the love of God and His Mother for you. Leader: Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. All: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Through the same Christ our Lord. In fulfilling its double purpose — the generation and formation of children — the home becomes a little world in itself, self-sufficient even in its youngest years.
Home is a place in which the young grow in harmony with all that is good and noble, where hardship, happiness, and work are shared. Do you need some good books suggestions? My Book List. Book List for Catholic Men. Book List for the Youth. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support. The story of Erna Bilkau and her so-called Mystic Candles is a tragic yet triumphant one.
Born in Russia, she moved to Germany, where she married a German boy. They honeymooned in America, learning to love the land of hope and freedom. Back in Germany she was separated a few years later from her husband by the war. With her two-year-old son she fled to America. She was making a modest living for herself and her son when he suddenly became seriously ill and passed away at the age of thirteen. The shock almost drove the mother insane.
For months she walked the streets every night, peeking with aching agony into homes where there were children. Friends tried to console her. To no avail. At last she took refuge with God. She knelt by her bed, and with folded hands asked the Almighty to assist her. Peace and courage came with her prayer. She put up a crudely constructed altar to the memory of her dead boy, and put upon it two lighted candles. The candles, however, burned down too quickly. She recalled some secrets of candle-making learned from her father. She experimented until she developed a candle that would burn down the center and not burn the outer shell.
It gave off a strange mystical glow. She called them her Mystic Candles. A young couple across the street accepted a few of the candles and found in them the courage to make up the differences that were slowly driving them to divorce. Others wanted candles like them. Others found peace and quiet and courage in having those candles in their homes. She was swamped with orders. A thriving business developed. In this work she found a release from her overwhelming grief. Today thousands find inspiration and help in the Mystic Candles of Erna Bilkau, the mother who lost a son.
Inspiring as this story may be, it pales before the ageless, world-wide story of the Catholic candle, which you see glowing upon our altars, which you see in every sacrament except Confession. Allow me to point out that the candle is one of the oldest and most widely used sacramentals in the Church. It is one of the richest religious symbols or instruments used to express spiritual ideas. What does the candle mean? Why do we use them? The wax, produced by virgin worker bees, is a beautiful figure of the pure body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.
The wick represents the soul of Christ; the flame represents His divinity, the fact that He was God. As the burning taper consumes itself, so the Christian should burn up his energies in serving God. Light is one of the most fitting and appropriate symbols of God, who is absolutely pure light. Light is pure in itself; light penetrates long distances and into farthest corners; light moves with unbelievable speed; light awakens and nourishes life in the organic kingdom; light brightens with its brilliance all that comes within its influence.
The Catholic Church uses blessed beeswax candles at the administration of all the sacraments that are given publicly, except Confession and in private Baptism, when only water is available. She uses them at Mass and Benediction and in other church services like blessings and processions. She gives a lighted candle to the newly baptized with these solemn words:.
Keep the commandments of God, so that when our Lord shall come to His nuptials thou mayest meet Him together with all the saints…. And when that Christian is dying we place a candle in his hand. It is not that we need their light, although in the early centuries that was their practical use, in the catacombs, in the caves and underground passages where the first Catholics had to conduct their services. Mother Church has a higher and a deeper reason than that. She uses every possible means for raising our minds to heaven. Among the sacramentals the candle is outstanding.
We love to look at a candle and see in its soft white wax the pure flesh of our Infant Savior. We see the wick penetrating the wax, and representing the soul of Christ. Let our candles be true spiritual inspirations to us, even more than the candles of Erna Bilkau were to her friends. Have them in your home. Use them in times peaceful and times perturbed.
They represent the true light of the world. Daniel A. Yes He is…and He helps in so many other ways, too! After 30 years of here and there wishing for a lovely statue of the Infant of Prague, hubby ran across one at an estate sale! Imagine that! And with all the colorful gowns and 2 crowns! What a find! It is not the statue, of course, that makes this devotion possible.
Here He is watching over things for the summer on top of our covered wood stove. I had Him dressed in red for the Precious Blood since it is July but halfway through I changed him to this lovely peachish orange…a summery color! I go to Him for many things and when there is an urgent need and I find that those come up often in a big family I will do the 9 hour Infant of Prague Emergency Novena.
I am including that novena at the end of this post. We have so much amazing help at our fingertips…. And that is why I am sharing this with you…. And many times, it can be financial…which is a true stress! And if you can find a small statue somewhere we have a smaller, very nice one that was given to us by a friend and that we use also…pictured below , spend the money on it, get it blessed and put it in a place of honor.
He will take care of you! Invoked against: Financial Distress Explanation of imagery.. Honoring the Infant of Prague is a tradition that is kept in many homes throughout the world as some believe that it guarantees financial stability and abundance. Devotion to Christ as a young child dressed as a king has its roots in the Carmelite order of Spain.
According to tradition, in , Saint Teresa of Avila gave a statue of the Christ child, dressed in actual royal robes to a noblewoman who was marrying into an aristocratic family in Bohemia. Taking it with her to what is now the city of Prague, her daughter, the Princess Polysena inherited it. In , Princess Polysenia was widowed and chose to devote the rest of her life to charitable causes. As long as you venerate this image, you will not lack anything. The monks credited this image with the immediate upturn of their fortunes. When they were forced out of their monastery due to a war in , they left the statue behind and the invading army threw it in a rubbish heap.
Within seven years the Carmelites were back in their monastery in Prague, desperately attempting to rebuild it. One monk, Father Cyril, who had a particularly strong devotion to the Divine Infant found the little wax statue among the rubble. The only damage done to the statue was its crushed hands. It was decided that the scarce funds the community had should go to more practical things than the repair of a statue.
Give me my hands and I shall give you peace. After the statue was repaired, the monks again displayed it in the main church. As the city of Prague suffered an epidemic, parishioners began invoking the little statue for aid. The quick answer to their prayers brought many in the surrounding region to seek help. Today, the church in Prague built to hold the statue, Our Lady of Victory, is a site of pilgrimage with visitors from all over the world paying their respects to the Divine Infant. Nine Hour Devotion to the Infant of Prague.
O Jesus, Who has said, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you, through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I knock,I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted. Make your request. Your Most Holy Mother. I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your Name that my prayer be granted. Nine Day Novena to the Infant of Prague. Full of trust I hope in You to obtain Your holy grace. I love You with all my heart, I am painfully sorry for my sins and on my knees I beg You, o Little Jesus, to free me from them.
My resolution is to improve and never more to offend You. Therefore, I offer myself to You, ready to suffer everything for You and to serve You faithfully. I will love my neighbour as myself from my heart for the love of You. You must make every effort to develop the quality of your home life. If you cherish spiritual values, you will bind together domestic ties, for, as a parent, you play a leading part in rebuilding the ideals of a nation through its home and civic life.
To a large degree, you form human character. Lawrence G. Sign up by following this link. New items at Meadows of Grace! Come and stop by! Sacramentals are the hidden treasures of the Church. It is up to us to learn about these sacramentals, teach our children about them and finally, to use them!! It is up to us to spread this good news so Catholics, once again, can be the recipients of unused graces that are so available in these treasures!
And that which was dry land shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. Some years ago two women were touring a desert region of our southwest. They wandered off from their party and were lost. For two full days they tramped and tramped in search of a road or dwelling. They found none.
Completely exhausted, aching with thirst and hunger, they could not walk another step. One of them, in true womanly fashion, took out her compact to repair the damage done by sun and dust. The sun flashed off the mirror. She got an idea. Someone might see the reflected light.
They flashed the mirror in all directions. Rescuers saw the flashes, hurried to the source, and saved the two ladies. Who would have thought that such a simple thing as a mirror could save human lives? This essential piece of female equipment did not directly save their lives, but it was the means, the instrument for attracting attention and bringing help. The sacramentals are something like that. Of themselves they do not save souls, but they are the means for securing heavenly help for those who use them properly.
A sacramental is a sacred object or religious action which the Catholic Church, in imitation of the Sacraments, uses for the purpose of obtaining spiritual favors especially through her prayer. We might divide the sacramentals into prayers, pious objects, sacred signs, and religious ceremonies.
Some sacramentals are a combination—they fall into two or more classes. The Rosary, for example, is a pious object and a prayer. The Sign of the Cross is a prayer and a sign. The crucifix, pictures and statues are pious objects. The ceremonies performed in the various Sacraments are also sacramentals, like the extending of the hands in Confirmation. How can mere material things help us on the way to heaven? How can water, metal, or a piece of cloth help save our souls?
You must ever remember that these objects in themselves have no power to save or help us. It would be superstitious to say they had any such power. But things like a crucifix, a holy picture, a statue, a candle, do excite spiritual thoughts and feelings in those who use them correctly. They excite the fear and love of God; they arouse trust and hope in His mercy; they awaken sorrow and joy in the Lord. The Church not only sets things aside for a sacred use, she also attaches definite benefits and blessings to certain objects and good works.
Many sacramentals have indulgences attached. An indulgence is the taking away, outside of confession, in whole or in part, of the temporal punishment due to sin which is already forgiven. The sacramentals also try to express the supreme beauty and goodness of Almighty God.
The words and language of the blessings are beautiful; the form and art of statues and pictures is of the best very often; the ceremonies of the Sacraments are adapted to express the graces given. He served as one of the chancellors of the Roman Catholic iocese of Portland, and as director of the Department of Ministerial Services for the diocese. Used with permission. Indeed, it may still be said to some extent because despite advances made in the understanding of this eucharistic sacrament, its variegated practice throws up different models, not all of which overlap theologically.
Turner concludes his initial laying out of the models with. But the confusion surrounding the sacrament has created a situation that demands a decision worthy of Solomon. I pray for an ecclesial gift of wisdom. Nor does it take up the running issues between catechists and liturgical theologians having to do with the appropriate age and stage of life. Rather, this essay posits that if the sacrament of confirmation is understood eucharistically, there is both less confusion and more light. So, how should we experience these rites? Is there a norma normans non normata? There is in the Easter Vigil.
If we accept that the Easter Vigil is the mother of all liturgy, the theological and liturgical paradigm from which the entire liturgical-sacramental life of a Christian is derived and to which it is related, then we ought logically to situate confirmation there. At the Easter Vigil, the sequence of liturgical rites is: the great Liturgy of the Word, then baptism, followed by confirmation, w w w. The sequence appears to indicate unambiguously that the meaning of the sacrament of confirmation is to be understood between baptism and the Eucharist.
Terminating in the Eucharist, baptism with confirmation constitutes the sacraments of initiation. Confirmation as Eucharistic: The Meaning If baptism-confirmation-Eucharist is the correct sequence of the rites, so that confirmation is seen as immediately eucharistic, what is its meaning? What is the theology of confirmation? This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church understands confirmation, as a ritual-sacramental moment in the process of initiation. The catechism goes on to make a foundational statement about the sacrament, followed by five comments, further specifying the content of this statement.
Taken together these points enable a better understanding of confirmation as eucharistic. Let us take each one in turn. In the broad Catholic tradition, it is impossible to speak of the sacrament of baptism without mentioning at the same time the sacrament of confirmation.
This process of divinization initiated in baptism is taken further in the moment of confirmation but, of course, it remains the process of divinization or sanctification. Confirmation increases and intensifies that relationship with the Trinity that makes us sons or daughters in the Son, before the Father, through In other words, the catechism affirms that there can be no increase in the gifts of the Spirit without, at the same time, a strengthening of our bond with the Church.
We may also say that what the catechism affirms of the sacrament of confirmation both in the foundational statement and the five comments applies a fortiori to the Eucharist, even more than to baptism. What begins in baptism is intensified in confirmation, is completed in the Eucharist. Conclusion If we were collectively to think of confirmation in these terms, as a eucharistic sacrament, the confusion and lack of clarity alluded to in Fr. If the Eucharist were seen as the terminus to which baptism and confirmation necessarily led, then as a Church we would move to posit the sacrament of confirmation between baptism and the Eucharist.
However, we are not quite there yet, and Fr. Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Benedict, Oregon. Reprinted with permission of Emmanuel Magazine, September , pgs. Anointing as Pastoral-Sacramental Ministry to the Sick bruce t. That, however, redefines the sacrament as one of healing, the recognition that God is working through human symbolism as part of a larger sacramental reality of shared faith within a community of believers.
The ways divine grace becomes real in pastoral practice of this sacrament comes through the uniqueness of each human story. I offer the following from my own pastoral work as an exemplary case for understanding the theology of this beautiful rite. This story is about one such elder, an year-old woman I shall call Mary. My most recent trip to that particular village, for Holy Week and Easter, was my first extended stay there in a few years, having made only a one-night visit during Christmastime two years before.
I had, however, kept in touch with a couple of leading figures in the parish, one of whom had apprised me of a number of deaths that had occurred over the past year. The day before Palm Sunday I landed in the village, word of my arrival circulated, and I celebrated Mass with about a dozen people in the early evening. Before starting I inquired about the families of those who had died, as well as the condition of certain elders, especially Mary. In the early s, after finishing college, I had spent a year as a Jesuit volunteer in a village further north at the mouth of the Yukon River.
Twenty years later I was surprised yet consoled to discern a call once again to be of pastoral service to those villages. I have made seven trips during this decade, most for about 10 days, although I spent seven weeks in one village in the summer of I have come to forge close ties with folks of all ages in that village of about The settlement sits on a high spot of tundra, overlooking serpentine sloughs, whipped by Bering winds, the people practicing subsistence while constantly teetering on the edge of poverty, steeped in their native traditions yet caught between that primordial world and the relentlessly w w w.
I received greetings all around, but Mary did not recognize me at first truth is, I had aged a fair amount over the past couple years, as well , so Paul showed her a five-year-old photo of me on the wall, which sparked the connection. Like many of the elders, including her late husband, James, Mary had never learned English. Mary made her way to the table and, very much the matriarch, instructed her son and granddaughter to serve me supper.
As we all ate together, with Paul translating between his mother and myself, our conversation slowly shifted to the heavy stories of recent deaths. During the conversation the younger people had all gradually drifted into other rooms. Mary was pondering two things: How was she to pray during this coming Holy Week, and why was God keeping her on this earth, while her daughter, brother, sister, and three years earlier husband had all been taken, leaving her behind? I knew it was not a moment for abstract explanations but, rather, a story.
I was profoundly grateful to have a good one to share with Mary. I asked Mary to remember the time we had first met during my initial pastoral stay in the village six and a half years earlier. The Jesuit who serves the region, in explaining his routine for the daily evening Mass, noted that after Mass each night he regularly brought Communion to one elderly couple who used to attend faithfully but now were homebound.
Mary was frail hobbled by an old, untreated foot and leg injury but her mind was What did impress me deeply from that start, however, was the profound reverence, the palpable joy, the consoling humility with which this aged couple celebrated the service of Holy Communion. They had long ago memorized the English responses to the parts of the Mass, many of which function in the Communion service as well. I would then administer Holy Communion to the couple and Sarah, who was primarily caring for them, and perhaps some others, after which followed silent prayer, the blessing, and then a greeting of peace shared by every person in the house, regardless of whether they had joined in the service.
I was present in a posture of service to the elders, but the enacted ritual worship was affecting the family and also transforming me. At the center of the ritual were Mary and James, whose faces and bodies proclaimed such quietly joyful faith in receiving and sharing the Body of Christ, a sacramental action I came to realize was integral to the life they shared with each other and the entire family. I began to look forward to visiting them each evening. Their home was a short distance from the church, made surprisingly long that year by relentless gale winds blowing horizontal sheets of snow and rain that glazed the surface of the terrain.
With jolting gusts intermittently intensifying the headwinds, I repeatedly found myself temporarily immobilized, struggling to retain my balance on stretches of glare ice, even pushed backward at times.
On successive evenings as I skidded, strained, or came to a complete halt alone in the darkness, the wind howling in my ears, I would find myself marveling: What in the world am I doing here? The answer became clear in the repetition: This is the life of the Gospel, and true to form, Christ is proving to be the one who has already gone ahead, awaiting to meet me amidst people profoundly aware of their need for God. That need—their poverty in spirit, their trust—was eliciting a desire within me to be with Christ—and thus them—that I could never have come up with on my own.
A couple of days before Christmas Paul called to say his mother wanted me to come for lunch with her, James, and anointing of the sick. I arrived in the brightness of noontime to find one of the daughters-in-law preparing the meal, with Mary advising.
The event, I slowly came to realize, was not only an act of hospitality on the cusp of Christmas, but also a modeling of roles and practices from James and Mary to the generation succeeding them. At one point Paul recounted how his father, James, had patiently taught his sons through stories and the example of his own life.
With tears in her eyes Mary replied that all her life, since her youth at the old regional mission school, she had always thought of the priests and sisters as the people she had to learn from. She never imagined she would hear one of them calling her his teacher. I just nodded and smiled. That was the story, abridged and focused on the witness of her faith to me, that I told Mary in response to the directionless grief and loneliness she was now experiencing, years later, in the deep wake of her recent losses and the ebb tide of her own declining physical condition.
After a quiet moment I noted how late the hour was and that we had not yet shared Holy Communion.
Mary asked that I first celebrate with her the sacrament of penance, which we did in one of the back rooms, and then many of the family gathered around for the Communion service. In departing, I asked Paul how long it had been since Mary had received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. He explained that she had twice been flown to the regional hospital for health crises during the past couple of years and most likely had been anointed at some point. I averred that the present seemed like a beneficial moment for her to celebrate the sacrament again, if she were to understand it not as last rites but an anointing to strengthen and support her in her weakened condition and new spiritual challenges.
Paul immediately nodded that he knew what I meant, saying they had been catechized in the reformed theology and practice of the sacrament. Paul later conferred with Mary, and we looked forward to celebrating the sacrament of anointing with her at some point in Holy Week. To the former my reply is that it is possible; a large number of parishes have less than 20 baptisms per year, some have as few as half a dozen, none has so many as rules out a proper communal, paschallinked celebration.
At any rate the numbers are going to become smaller and smaller. To the latter, my reply is that baptism is not an emergency rite except in an emergency. Postponing baptism for a short period until an occasion anointing of the sick. If we want the sacraments to be moments of evangelization we must allow the symbols to speak, which means overcoming our terribly minimalist approach to water, oil, bread, touch, etc.
The overflowing abundant waters of baptism are reduced to the barest few drops from a jug; oil is used but with great reserve in celebrating the most gracious self-giving we should surely be lavish in our expression. Printed with permission from The Furrow. Lunes 23 de abril, a. Almuerzo incluido. Massimo Faggioli, University of St. Keynote Address open to public. Harrington, S. Stegman, S. FREE of charge. Early registration recommended at www.
Ronald Rolheiser, O. Early registration recommended. To register, email Fran Ricciarelli at franricci gmail. Mary Sweeney, Campus Minister, and Fr. Michael Ford, S. Morning refreshments included. James A. Pyne, a lifelong advocate for persons with disabilities. Articles stress eucharistic theology and life, liturgy, and prayer. Published six times a year, its 96 pages have a wealth of material aimed at moving us beyond Eucharist as devotion, to solidarity with Christ in spreading the good news of his love to our world. To subscribe call or email: emmanuel blessedsacrament.
They continue to look for ways to help people learn more about their faith and to take leading roles in their parishes. Liturgical Press began publishing for the Church in and continues its commitment to providing religious and spiritual resources of relevance and quality to the Christian community. LTP, a not-for-profit agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago, serves people of faith throughout the world. The Furrow is a monthly journal for the contemporary Church. It enjoys an international reputation as a courageous and impartial forum for discussing the challenges facing the Church today and of the resources available to meet them.
The Christian Century is a progressive, ecumenical magazine based in Chicago. Committed to thinking critically and living faithfully, the Century explores what it means to believe and live out the Christian faith in our time. Headquartered in New York, the company is a subsidiary of News Corporation. Now 87, she survived—her mind intact but the left side of her body frozen. She now lives in a nursing home.
I asked her recently if she remembers being anointed. Many Catholics still carry cards or wear medals so that, if they are in an accident, a priest is called to administer the sacrament. Three Parts to the Sacrament The sacrament itself has three distinct parts: the prayer of faith, the laying-on of hands, and the anointing with oil. And if one member suffers, all share in those sufferings. This community aspect is why parishes now often hold communal celebrations of the sacrament. Sometimes it is combined with a Mass for healing.
There are also prayer services for healing that do not involve the sacrament. It is a sign of blessing and an invocation for the coming of the Spirit. Anointing with oil signifies healing, strengthening, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In biblical times, oil was used to massage athletes to fortify them for the race ahead. In the sacrament, the forehead and hands are anointed, and sometimes additional parts of the body, such as the area of pain or injury.
The early Church continued this practice Games As the gospels relate, the sick came to him for healing: moreover, he loves us so much that he died for our sake. Jesus the Healer Throughout the ritual there is an emphasis on Jesus the healer, the forgiver of sins and the source of all strength to accept and endure whatever comes. Some of the alternates are wonderful, too.
This is usually followed by the Our Father, that most perfect prayer of trust in God, in which all present join in. Initially, my recovery went well but about 30 hours later, while in the ICU ward of Scott and White Hospital, Temple, Texas, I began to experience total cardiac arrest and received defibrillation shocks to revive me. In the presence of another chaplain and my wife, the priest anointed me and laid hands on me.
I remember feeling relief and very content while I received the sacrament. My fears left me. I am still recovering well as of this writing. Drew was anointing me in my parish church. The sacrament helped me to face bravely the unknown. I still had to have the recommended surgery and follow it up with radiation, but I was able to pursue my physical healing with the burden of fear lifted from my shoulders. I am celebrating every day of being a cancer survivor! When I visited her two days later, worried nurses informed me she had suffered a severe stroke and was now in the intensive care unit ICU.
Late that afternoon, Fr. Anthony Moore, O. At its conclusion he made the Sign of the Cross and, to my amazement, my mother raised her right hand and made the Sign of the Cross with him. What a beautiful consolation it was to know that her last act was to participate in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick! When you know you are going to die very soon, love will overtake the air you breathe and you can feel the love Anthony Messenger magazine, is used by permission of Franciscan Media, 28 W. Liberty St. All rights reserved. Although it was never put in writing, there was a kind of unwritten rule that if you wanted to go to Holy Communion on Sunday, you needed to go to confession on Saturday.
Of course, the timing minimized the likelihood that you would sin seriously before the next morning. Remember, these were the days when the weekly Mass of obligation had to be celebrated on Sunday before noon. The Saturday afternoon timing might also have favored those who ate meat on Friday. Why was it so tempting in those days to eat meat on Friday?
Today, of course, the situation is much changed. There are no long lines at several confessionals in the church on Saturdays. I recall that depending on what you had to confess choosing between monsignor and the two curates took some discernment—in those days all the priests would be on confession duty on a Saturday afternoon.
My usual experience as a priest helping in suburban parishes is that perhaps two or three people might come to confess in an hour and a half period. Mostly this seems to happen twice a year—in Advent and in Lent. And even then, at least in my experience, the churches are hardly full of penitents. Many complain that the sacrament has fallen onto hard times and lament its imminent demise.
Perhaps a little historical perspective might be helpful. Small wonder that a number of people some of them famous like the Emperor Constantine who had after all killed off one wife and two sons hedged their bets and put off baptism until their deathbeds. One could avoid a lifetime as a penitent by entering a monastery but then again St.
Gradually the public penitential practice was eased and people began adopting the practice of more frequent confession even for less serious sins. Up to the 12th century it seems that people could go to spiritual advisors, some of whom were not priests. Holy Communion during Eastertide. Now the emphasis on the positive aspects of our Christian faith is very good news indeed. They recognize, too if they have been well catechized that in order to commit a serious sin three things are required: serious matter, knowledge by the person, a freedom.
I suspect it is true that people who are honestly striving to lead good Christian lives do not commit serious sins very often. Why do some lament the apparent disappearance of frequent confession? Why go to confession at all, especially if one is not conscious of serious sin? I think there are at least three answers to those questions. The first is that we human beings have a great propensity for self-deception. Some people, of course, have the opposite problem and scrutinize their motives endlessly sometimes to the point of an unhealthy scrupulosity , but I think that the vast majority of us are not terribly vigilant about our wrongdoing.
And even when we do recognize our wrongdoing and admit it before God, we run the risk of under- or overestimating it. There is something very honest and human about our admitting our sins before another human being, who stands as a very tangible representative of God and the Church. Moreover, because of the solemn seal of the confessional, this is literally the safest place on earth. The second reason for going to confession is the development of a good habit. I remember a conversation with an undergraduate a number of years ago. I think he was penance.
He was asking about confession because he was unfamiliar with it. A Catholic, he had gone to confession only once in his life—before his first Holy Communion at the age of eight! Presumably the situation was not dire—that is, if he had committed no serious sin— but at the same time he was missing out on a valuable opportunity to take stock of his life before the Lord. It is essential for our growth in holiness that we regularly take time for a completely honest examination of conscience.
Significant events do have a big impact on our lives, but so do ordinary repetitive patterns. Otherwise, our misdeeds are merely wrongdoing. The indispensable admission ticket to Christianity is gratitude to the God who forgives us our sins so that we can live the life He wants for us. Printed with permission. How Do You Go to Confession?
Father John Baldovin has offered some insights on why it is important to go to confession. He is there to help you celebrate the sacrament as honestly, peacefully, and prayerfully as you can. Be reassured: your confessor does not w w w. Let us begin. Some priests may simply wait for you to begin. Again, there is no one way to celebrate the sacrament. After the greeting or reading, or if it seems the priest wants you to take the lead, make the sign of the cross and then say how long it has been since your last confession. Who are you? For example. How to confess?
I did tell a couple of lies, mostly harmless. My last confession was just before Christmas. For these and all the sins of my past life, I am truly sorry. I know that they know I fudge a little on the truth, sometimes. Two things, in particular. I came home from a party last Saturday just a little bit woozy.
Had a little too much to drink. I think that is all, Father. I ask for your forgiveness. Notice that the sins Peter and Paul confess are pretty much the same. How they confess those sins, however, differs. Peter follows a traditional examination of conscience based upon the 10 commandments. Paul uses his desire to be a good father as a kind of reference point from which to focus his. What to confess? Many prayer books offer various forms of an examination of conscience.
Are both confessions good?
Both Peter and Paul have confessed in a satisfactory and appropriate way. After you have confessed, the priest may offer you some words of advice or encouragement. Sometimes people are concerned about the questions the priest might ask. Be assured that if the priest does ask a question, it is because he believes he needs to know something more about what you have said in order to minister more effectively and more directly to you.
And certainly you may ask the priest any questions you have, either to better understand something he has said or to ask about something that concerns you. The priest will then give you a penance, and ask you to make an act of contrition. Act of Contrition and Absolution. Your act of contrition may be in your own words or you may take it from a book.
In choosing to. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy. The priest will now say the words of absolution—the prayerful assurance that God, who welcomes the repentant sinner, forgives your sins.
It is interesting to note that, before the Second Vatican Council, the priest would say the words of absolution in Latin while the penitent was making his or her act of contrition. The words of absolution are now said in English and they follow your act of contrition, so you can hear these words of mercy and peace! Let us conclude.
And, whether your act of penance is prayers that can be said right away or actions to be performed later, it is good to spend at least a few moments in church thinking about what you have just done—and about what God has done for you. Forgiveness, pardon, peace. Good reasons to linger in the church for a while and give God thanks! To conclude: the sacrament of reconciliation is meant to ease our burdens, not increase them.
There is no one exactly perfect way to go to confession.
After all, the sacrament is a gift precisely for people who are imperfect! And remember that the priest is there as a helper and guide. Kurt Stasiak O. Kurt has published numerous articles and book reviews appearing in a variety of publications. Liturgies of Reconciliation bernard j. Hearing confessions was. Today, one recalls this as something out of an almost-forgotten past. Saturday afternoons and evenings are now relatively quiet times around.
The parish billboard lists an hour when the pastor will be available for confessions, but scarcely anyone comes. Large numbers of people who previously would have gone to confession at least twice a month now go once or twice a year, if that often. On the other hand, when there are well-planned parish liturgies of reconciliation, they are often well attended, particularly by young people. This change has happened very rapidly, with no obvious causes.
Perhaps the most profitable thing we can do in this situation is to clarify, as far as we can, the goals that effective reconciliation liturgies should seek. If we can do this, we will have some criteria for creating suitable liturgy. Liturgy as Part of the Sacrament 1. Liturgies of reconciliation must be seen as only one element in the sacrament of reconciliation; they must be situated in the broader context of the actual human reconciliation going on within a Christian community.
A liturgy that is not grounded in and giving expression to such actual reconciling is without meaning and therefore sacramentally ineffective. This is by no means to suggest that liturgies of reconciliation are incidental or unnecessary; their role in the process of reconciliation shares in the indispensable role that language plays in human relationships. We humans A reconciliation liturgy should accomplish all this. Each Christian needs to admit, as part of a mature, realistic approach to life, that he or she has failed somewhat in living out Christian faith.
To say this to one another, even specifying, when appropriate, the particular form of infidelity, is part of each one of us coming to greater self-knowledge. It is also an important bond that links us to one another; there is nothing we more universally share than the need to be forgiven. One important advantage that comes with such open admission of our human infidelity is the correcting of our basic notion of sin. We come to understand sin as violation of persons, as infidelity to ourselves and to one another. We begin to experience our sinfulness as undesirable alienation rather than as oppressive anxiety or failure to comply with laws.
We cannot turn away from and be healed of our sin unless we know what this sin really is. When, during a liturgy of reconciliation, the proclamation and explanation of the Gospel challenges our infidelities we can come to know better and admit to ourselves the real needs we have for conversion. Liturgies of reconciliation should foster Christian formation of conscience.
Even if our general notion of sin becomes more accurate, as personal infidelity, we still need to develop the ability to appraise actual situations of moral choice and decide which courses of action would be authentically Christian and which would be unfaithful. Another way of expressing this is to say that we need to form a genuinely Christian conscience, something we must do as individuals. Community liturgies of reconciliation should provide important occasions for people to reflect prayerfully on the real decisions they face.
They should be a major instrument for the formation of Christian conscience. Celebrating Reconciliation Like other sacramental ceremonies, the liturgy of reconciliation is meant to be a celebration, and be experienced as celebration. This clearly takes the focus off sin and healthfully places it on reconciliation. Obviously, no one would be celebrating human sinfulness, which only a truly malicious person would do, but reconciliation is truly something to celebrate.
How many humans can assure themselves that they will receive understanding and support from a genuinely compassionate community? But what Christians celebrate in addition is the personal loving forgiveness of a compassionate God. And what assures them of divine forgiveness is the human reconciliation they are experiencing, for that reconciliation is sacrament. There are any number of situations in which liturgies of reconciliation can occur.
Often they can be quite short, even informal: before a family meal, among a group of friends, as an element in other liturgies such as anointing or Eucharist. They can also be appropriate after some negotiations, to help heal wounds after some particularly aggressive competition in business, or in professional or public life, to welcome a person back into a group he or she had defected from because of some misunderstanding or conflict. It is important to keep in mind that Eucharist is and always has been the principal liturgy of reconciliation.
Corporate Repentance Part of our growth in understanding sin has been the increased awareness of corporate guilt. As we saw in the last chapter, there are many sinful actions we do as groups. Christian churches have lived with pious hatred of one another and refused to believe anything good of the others. To reiterate a point made before, any discussion of liturgical ceremonies of reconciliation should include the fact that Eucharist is preeminently the liturgy of reconciliation precisely because in unique fashion it is the sharing of Christ himself, the ultimate source of reconciliation.
In Eucharist, Christians share the bread made body of Christ as the sacrament of their being reconciled to one another in a truly compassionate community of persons. Summary In the rapidly changing context of the sacrament of reconciliation, it is difficult to determine exactly what shape or shapes the liturgy should take in this sacramental area. For one thing, the liturgical celebration is but one element in a much broader sacramental reality, namely, the actual reconciling that goes on in human life and especially in the Christian community.
At least for the moment we can describe some of the needs that. There should be a liturgical situation in which Christians can publicly declare their infidelity to one another and, more importantly, their determination to live more faithfully and more lovingly. At the same time, there are corporate elements of sinfulness that Christian groups need to discover and disown together: divisions, animosities, and prejudices within a community, or shared neglect of Christian responsibility for the needs of the world.
Bernard J. Cooke internationally recognized theologian and educator, has been a pioneer in shaping Catholic theological education in colleges and universities for more than 40 years. The Sacrament of Marriage michael lawler and william roberts In the Bible there is an action called a prophetic symbol.
Ezekiel takes a brick, draws a city on it, builds siege works around the city, and lays siege to it. He takes a sword, shaves his hair with it, and divides the hair into three bundles. Self-understanding in Israel was rooted in the great covenant between the god Yahweh and the people Israel, It is easy to predict that Israelites, prone to prophetic action, would search for such an action to symbolize their covenant relationship with Yahweh.
It is just as easy, perhaps, to predict that the symbol they would choose is the covenant that is marriage between a man and a woman.
The prophet Hosea was the first to speak of marriage as prophetic symbol of the covenant. On a superficial level, the marriage of Hosea and his wife Gomer is like many another marriage. But on a level beyond the superficial, Hosea interpreted it as a prophetic symbol, proclaiming, making humanly explicit, and celebrating in representation the covenant communion between Yahweh and Israel. As Gomer left Hosea for other lovers, so, too, did Israel leave Yahweh for other gods. The meanings of this marriage parable, of course, are not limited to meanings for the spouses; there are also meanings for their marriage.
One such meaning is this. Not only is marriage a reality of social law, it is also a reality of grace. Lived into as grace, lived into in faith as we might say today, marriage appears as a two-tiered reality. This two-tiered view of marriage became the Christian view, articulated later in the Letter to the Ephesians Jewish prophetic symbol became in history Christian sacrament.
A sacrament is prophetic symbol in and through which the Church, the Body of Christ, proclaims, reveals, and celebrates in representation that presence and action of God that is called grace. To say that a marriage between Christians is a sacrament is to say, then, that it is a prophetic symbol, a two-tiered reality. On one tier, it proclaims, reveals, and celebrates the intimate communion of life and love between a man and a woman, between our Will and Willma. It is more than just human covenant; it is also religious covenant.
It is more than law and obligations and rights; it is also grace. This presence of grace in its most ancient and solemn Christian sense, namely, the presence of the gracious God, is not something extrinsic to Christian marriage. It is something essential to it, something without which it would not be Christian marriage at all. Christian, sacramental marriage certainly proclaims the love of Will and Willma.
It is in this sense that it is a sacrament, a prophetic symbol, both a sign and an instrument, of the explicit and gracious presence of Christ and of the God he reveals. In every symbol there are, to repeat, two levels of meaning. There is a foundational level and, built on this foundation and bound to it, a symbolic level.
The foundational level in a sacramental marriage is the loving communion for the whole of life between a man and a woman who are disciples of Christ and members of His Church. The symbolic or sacramental level is the representation in their communion of the communion of life and love between Christ and His Church. This two-tiered and bound meaningfulness is what is meant by the claim that marriage between Christians is a sacrament. In a truly Christian marriage, which is a marriage between two believing Christians, the symbolic meaning takes precedence over the foundational meaning, in the sense that the steadfast love of God and of Christ is explicitly present as the model for the love of the spouses.
There is one, final question for this essay. When the Catholic Church claims that marriage between baptized Christians is a sacrament, what precisely is the meaning of the word marriage? In ordinary language, the word is ambiguous. Sometimes it means, more crucially, the marriage and the life that flows from their wedding commitment, the communion of life and love that lasts until death. Both these common meanings of the word marriage are intended in the claim that marriage is a sacrament. Summary This essay was about four interrelated personal realities: friendship, love, marriage, and the sacrament of marriage.
Friends wish me well, that is they love me, and I love them. We share our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams marriage. I argued that marriage is an intimate partnership of love for the whole of life, equally ordered to the mutual well-being of the spouses and to the generation and nurture of children. I argued further that, when marriage is between believing Christians, it is also a sacrament, a prophetic symbol of the presence in the world of the gracious God.
Every marriage between Christian believers offers, therefore, two levels of meaning. There is a first, foundational level, the communion of the whole of life between the spouses; and, built on this foundation and bound to it, there is a second, symbolic level on which the communion between the spouses images and represents the communion between Christ and his Church.
Michael G. Lawler is professor of theology and dean of the graduate school at Creighton University. His works have been published widely in theological journals in the United States and Europe, and he is the author of ten books, including Marriage and Sacrament: A Theology of Christian Marriage, published by The Liturgical Press.
Roberts, professor of theology at the University of Dayton, is the author of several books. Published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. Reprinted with permission. Quite often, I opened the door to welcome engaged couples who came to discuss their wedding with one of the parish priests. In the course of my years in Catholic high school, we had certainly learned about the sacrament of matrimony and understood it to be a lifetime commitment.
Although marriage was always included in the discussion, the week concentrated heavily on understanding and promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. My classmates and I always came away feeling that, while marriage was addressed as a sacrament, the clear path to holiness seemed to be through ordination or religious consecration. We dated all through college, and attending the 10 p.
Sunday Mass together was a hallmark of our courtship. Just after college, we became engaged. As we began to plan our wedding, I could not help but remember that wedding pamphlet in the rectory office all those years before. We thrilled in thinking about our wedding day, but we were mindful that careful preparation would also help us build a marriage that would last a lifetime.
Our precana preparation program helped us broaden and deepen our understanding of marriage, enabling us to embrace the role of marriage as sacrament and vocation, intimately linked to our baptism, and ultimately, our path to holiness. Marriage, like baptism, has to be lived out over a lifetime. As I look back over 26 years, I see that we have tried to live our marriage as a sacrament in innumerable ways, both big and small. When we were first married, my husband was in medical school and residency with a demanding and sometimes grueling on-call schedule.
To support him in his. Now, many years later, our roles have reversed a bit as my husband supports me in my effort to complete a degree in pastoral ministry while working in a parish. In our support of one another in our career needs, we have each enabled the other to be Christ to the people we serve—him to his patients and me to our parishioners. Much of our ability to deal with the bigger questions of life stemmed from some basic decisions that seemed small and insignificant at the time.
One weekend early in our marriage, when our schedules had been particularly demanding, we were considering what to do for Mass. Tired and overworked, we both contemplated just sleeping that morning. For the first time in our adult lives, we faced the question of why we should or should not go to Mass, accountable to no one else for that decision other than ourselves and God.
We did go to Mass. Similarly, after our children were born, we moved from one town to another and sought to join a parish. Keeping God at the center of our week through regular attendance at Sunday Mass has nourished and shaped us, enabling us to keep God at the center of each day and each moment, moments so numerous and seemingly mundane, that we are almost unaware that we are honoring our marriage and baptismal vows in those moments. With the gift of children, we learn even more fully how to surrender self-interest in order to serve the needs of the others in the family unit.
Despite how tired we may be as parents, when the baby cries, we need to surrender to self and put the needs of another before our own. Selfsacrifice is evident in financial decisions to educate our children and provide them with enriching opportunities such as music lessons and scouting. It is indeed humbling to hold a newborn in your arms and realize that your overwhelming love for this child is perhaps just a small manifestation of the infinite love that God offers to us, and gratitude overflows from the heart.
Marriage and family are a very privileged place where this occurs. In this vein, my husband is a saint, for he has shown me the face of God in more ways than I can count. I am indeed a much better Christian thanks to his role in my life. He was the first to truly teach me about what it would mean to live marriage as a sacrament. We became engaged over Thanksgiving break during our first year of graduate school, which we were spending in cities located more than miles apart.
As we said goodbye at the airport at the conclusion of. There is someone else who depends on me, who is affected by every choice I make, and whose happiness is more important than my own. The stakes are just so much higher now. Keeping this belief at the center of marriage is what makes us a sacramental people each and every day and which makes that promised lifetime of marriage a blessing and a joy.
Timothy parish in Norwood, Massachusetts. She is a wife of 26 years and mother of four children.