My most life-changing discovery about the Catholic faith has been realizing the seven sacraments can be lived out in the ordinary, everyday of our lives. While some sacraments may be viewed as “one and done,” such as Baptism and Confirmation, there is an abundance of blessings available to the individual open to seeing them as continual conduits of grace.
The Daily Grace of Our Baptism
“Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1253)
Baptism referred to as a beginning leads me to the understanding it will continue in some form. Baptism is an entry into the Christian life, and faith comes from embracing the promises of this sacrament. The grace to grow to a mature faith comes from continually renouncing Satan, and working to understand better what it means to believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This embracing of our call to live the Sacrament of Baptism is only the beginning of the daily blessings God has for us.
Outpouring Grace of Forgiveness
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Catholic Christian can learn not only to accept mercy but to be merciful to others. An outpouring of grace comes when we participate in the sacrament. We may receive it as often as once a week or at maximum once a year (unless we become aware sooner of grave sin), however, we can live the principal of forgiveness every day.
“This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense, it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members. Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland.” (CCC 1469)
This Sacrament lived beyond the walls of the confessional, strengthens not only our relationship with God but also strengthens the entire body of Christ.
The Blessed Sacrament: Communion with Jesus
While the Eucharist is available daily, there is still a blessing for those of us who cannot attend daily Mass.
Section 1212 of the Catechism, gives a more in-depth perspective of how it works with the other Sacraments of Initiation nurturing out faith:
“The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.”
The Good Work Begun in Us
What was begun in Baptism, the sharing in the divine nature and the renewing of our faith brought to fullness in Confirmation, continues to increase each time we receive the Eucharist.
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
How beautifully the Sacraments of Initiation come together to strengthen and mature our faith.
Embracing the fullness of these Spiritual Gifts within us, we can now go forward living our Christian witness with confidence! Furthermore, the Lord continues to feed us for the journey. The Bread of Life nourishes us in Holy Communion:
- In form (actual reception of Eucharist);
- In Spirit (Spiritual Communion); or
- In His presence of (Eucharistic Adoration).
Our Baptismal Call to be Priest, Prophet, and King
One of the more unexpected examples of living each Sacrament comes when considering the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Catechism gives a beautiful example of how we not only share in this beautiful Sacrament but it too is lived daily by all.
“Lay people share in Christ’s priesthood: ever more united with him, they exhibit the grace of Baptism and Confirmation in all dimensions of their personal family, social and ecclesial lives, and so fulfill the call to holiness addressed to all the baptized” (CCC 941).
We can also participate in this sacrificial sacrament by committing to pray for Priest and Deacons.
The Vocation of Marriage
Likewise, those who look upon the vocation of marriage but do not wish to enter it, or have not yet presented an opportunity to may feel cheated of this extraordinary grace. Again, the Catechism provides a new insight:
“Since marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration, before the priest (or a witness authorized by the Church), the witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful.” (CCC 1663)
Since we, as the body of Christ – the Church, witness to these special unions, we, therefore, all share in the grace of the sacramental bond. Also, for children born of the sacramental love of man and woman, they too are given a share in the abundant graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony, even if they never marry.
Sharing in the Suffering of Others
Finally, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can seem challenging to find the place for those not personally receiving the sacrament to share in the grace, especially in their daily lives. This time, we will turn to Scripture for insight on how this may occur.
Luke 10:30-37 Gospel (NASB) recounts the parable of the Good Samaritan:
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Christ in the World
That last quote from Jesus sums it up best. When we go forth into the world and bring healing, help, and compassion, we continue the sacramental work of the anointing. While we don’t actually place oil on people’s heads or give them absolution, when we love like Jesus, especially to those who are wounded – physically, emotionally or spiritually — we are living the grace of this healing sacrament.
In our ordinary comings and goings, we are Christ in the world; is that not the exact purpose of the sacraments – to be outward signs of Christ still living among us?
How do you live the sacraments among the comings and goings of your everyday, ordinary life?
Copyright 2019 Allison Gingras