Chapter 11: Installing New Windows: Sacraments at the Service of Communion {Lawn Chair Catechism}

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Welcome to this summer’s Lawn Chair Catechism! We’re reading Joe Paprocki’s best-selling book, A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe. We’re taking it one chapter at a time all summer long.

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Being given recognition for certain achievements is very appropriate. It is a way of affirming one’s efforts. At the same time, there are certain things that we do in life for which we do not seek recognition. For Christians, the call to be of service to others is something we do out of a sense of loving obligation to one another, not for recognition. In this session, we will explore two sacraments of service—referred to as the Sacraments at the Service of Communion—Holy Orders and Matrimony.

The Post Office is a place where correspondence is gathered in order to be delivered. In the Old Testament, the role of the High Priest was to gather all of the prayers of the people and to deliver—to offer—them to God. In a sense, the priest was a mediator between the people and God. We sometimes refer to Jesus as our “High Priest” (see Hebrews 5:1–10) because he mediates between God and us. Through baptism, we all share in the priesthood of Jesus. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Catholic priests serve the common priesthood of the people of God.

What difference does it make that Catholics celebrate the sacraments of holy orders and matrimony? It means that we recognize that “it’s not about me!” These two sacraments are called the sacraments at the service of communion, and they remind us that we are all called to put aside our own needs to serve the needs of the community. In a society and culture that promotes the importance of the individual, the sacraments of holy orders and matrimony promote the importance of the community.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to call Jesus “our high priest”?
  2. How do Catholic priests serve to build up the common priesthood of the faithful?
  3. What characterizes the ministry of bishops? Priests? Deacons? How are religious priests differentiated from diocesan priests?
  4. What does it mean that for Catholics, sexual intercourse within a marriage is sacramental?
  5. Why do you think Matrimony is called a Sacrament at the Service of Communion?
  6. What does it mean that a Catholic marriage must be both unitive and procreative? 

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions. You can also share your blog post by linking up below.

Next week, we’ll introduce Part 3: The Moral Life: Living Faith. We’ll also cover Chapter 12: Handle with Care: Human Dignity, Sin, and Mercy. For the complete reading schedule and information about this summer’s Lawn Chair Catechism, visit the Lawn Chair Catechism page.

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Copyright 2014 Sarah Reinhard

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