The Very Heart of Being Catholic

04-25-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

We have reached that time of year when many sacraments will be celebrated in our Church. Approximately 45 children, mostly second graders, will receive their First Holy Communion this and next weekend. In May, a similar number of young people, mostly 8th graders, will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on various Friday evenings.

This being the case, I thought this might be a good time to talk about sacraments, and why they are so important to us as Catholics. When I was in the seminary, Monsignor Carroll Satterfield, of blessed memory, taught us several semesters’ worth of classes on the sacraments. I remember him stressing, over and over, that having a sacramental relationship with Christ is at the very heart of being Catholic.

All Christians have, or should have, a Word based relationship with Christ. In other words, they should know Him by hearing and learning His Word. But, as Catholics, we have more than just that. We also have a sacramental relationship with Christ.

By this we mean that Christ is truly present to us in the sacraments. This is most clear in the Holy Eucharist, where He transforms bread and wine into His very self in a mysterious, yet very real, way. He then feeds us with this spiritual food, and also gives us the means by which we can adore His presence in the Sacred Host – as so many of you do in adoration.

Not only in Eucharist, but in every sacrament, Jesus is present to give us a gift of grace. Grace, as many of you recall, is a special gift of God’s life that makes us holy. The grace that Jesus gives us in every sacrament helps us live our faith and become more like Him.

He shares His priesthood with the men He calls to the sacrament of Holy Orders, and then works through those priests to provide the other sacraments for his people. Most notably is that, working through the priests He has called, He forgives our sins in Confession.

When the young men and women of our parish are Confirmed next month, Christ will truly obtain for them a special strengthening with the Holy Spirit to help them live their faith in this world. In a similar way, He gives married couples the grace they need to be faithful to each other through thick and thin, and love each other in a way that reflects the love He has for His Bride, the Church.

I think you get the point. While Christ is present to us in many ways spiritually, in the sacraments He is present in a way that gives us the grace we need to live our faith in Him and, ultimately, follow Him to Heaven. This is why the sacraments are such an important part of our Catholic life.

It’s why we have babies Baptized as soon as possible, celebrate marriage in and according to the Rites of the Church, and make such a big deal about things like First Communion and Confirmation.

I suspect this is also why so many of you missed being at Church during the pandemic. While you most certainly had good reason for prudence (which is why our bishop issued a dispensation from Mass attendance which remains in effect for the time being), as Catholics you missed the particular way that Christ relates to us in the sacraments.

If you know people who need to receive the sacraments, please feel free to send them our way. Fr. Gilbert and I will be happy to help them prepare for and celebrate the sacraments they need. The importance of the sacraments will require that they spend some time in preparation and be properly disposed to receive them, things we will also be happy to help them do.

Please also pray for all those who will be receiving the sacraments of Eucharist (First Communion) and Confirmation in the coming weeks, and for the couples who will be married in our Church this Spring. Please also remember that Hail Mary for me each day. We gain more blessings than we can imagine through the prayers we offer for each other!

Have a great week!
Fr. John