All posts tagged: sacraments

The Fitting Nature of the Sacraments

“By coming into this world our Lord Jesus Christ wished to bring holiness within the reach of all….For this end He provided certain means to fill up all their deficiencies, and supply all their needs in the supernatural order. These wonderful means of sanctification are the Sacraments. Their outward signs harmonize admirably with the grace which they contain, and with the effects which they produce. By their means, in a truly divine order of things, [created things], which have so often captivated [us] and drawn [us] away from God, become instruments for bringing [us] back. – Abbess Cecile Bruyere O.S.B.” One of the central paradoxes of human life is that it is the good things of this world that lead us astray, not the bad. No one gets fat because food tastes nasty, no one hoards things because they take up room, no one engages in sexual promiscuity for the STDs. No, it is indeed the case that food often tastes good, stuff is often cool, and sex is often pleasurable. And yet, look at …

Actualizing Baptism: The Font of Lay Authority

It seems the common experience of most lay people today in the United States Catholic Church that they are disengaged from the liturgical celebration unless made a part of an active ministry (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Lector, Greeter, etc.). Yet, the documents of the Second Vatican Council point to the essential activity of the laity, whether part of an active ministry or not. The laity seem to have lost a rightful sense of authority when celebrating the liturgy. They see themselves as passive participants instead of active members of a Church communio. The decline in Mass attendance or engagement may be connected to this shallow self-understanding of lay identity that has seeped its way into the consciousness of so many Catholics. The rich rights and obligations of the laity articulated in the Code of Canon Law (CC 208ff.) spurred this essay, which seeks to flesh out a rightful authority of the baptized at liturgical celebration as baptismal priest and suggest a catechetical method for actualizing this authority. Baptismal Theology In Lumen Gentium, The Constitution …

Sacramentality of Time and Pastoral Asceticism of Presence

“Time is precious.” “My time is valuable.” “Time is money.” “Do you have any free time?” We have commodified time. We “spend time,” “save time,” “make time,” “waste time,” “kill time.” Time is the water we swim in, the air we breathe, and so we take it for granted. We forget that it is granted, that it is entrusted to us as a gift that we are to steward and return to our Giver. We have forgotten that the economy of time is woven tightly together with the economy of salvation, “as if,” in the words of Henry David Thoreau, “you could kill time without injuring eternity.”[1] Pastoral ministers of the Church, of all people, should know that we are made for eternity—that, though in time, we are not ruled by time. Yet we, too, live under what Charles Hummel calls “the tyranny of the urgent.”[2] Robert J. Wicks, author of Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present, writes: Some of us are ‘too available.’ Thus, true availability becomes watered down. We become …

The Bread and Wine of Liturgical Evangelization

Not to put too much pressure on anyone, but after you read a few hundred pages of the Compendium on the New Evangelization and study Pope Francis’ encyclical letter The Joy of the Gospel, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the popes are expecting us to bring about, with God’s help, a total transformation of culture worldwide. This renewal of all reality is to organically grow out of the personal relationships with Christ of lay disciples who put their faith into action in our vocations of work, family, and community life. This isn’t to say that the clergy and religious don’t have a role to play. A world evangelization mission requires a laity that is formed in accordance with the Gospel and the Catechism. Thus we will be able to “Observe, Judge, and Act” our way through the myriad situations of our shared lives. That won’t happen without the experience of sacraments and especially the Mass as moments of grace, holiness, and formation. Consider two of the Americans Pope Francis recommended to us during …

What’s New in the Marriage Rite?

Starting today, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the dioceses of the United States may begin using a new ritual book for wedding liturgies, entitled The Order of Celebrating Matrimony.  (It becomes mandatory on December 30, the Feast of the Holy Family.) We are welcoming a text that is truly enriched and expanded, yet still very recognizable to those of us who are familiar with (or participated in) the outgoing Rite of Marriage book, which had been in use for over four decades. The old Rite of Marriage was translated from the 1969 Latin edition – the first set of revised marriage rites published for the universal Church after the Second Vatican Council.  A second Latin edition was then promulgated in 1990, featuring a number of changes.  However, because the Church in the English-speaking world would spend most of the subsequent two decades employing a new method of liturgical translation and readying the Roman Missal for its 2011 implementation, updating the vernacular edition of the marriage rites got put on the …

Liturgy and the New Evangelization: 2016 Symposium

In his recently translated book, Mystery and Sacrament of Love: A Theology of Marriage and the Family for the New Evangelization, Marc Cardinal Ouellet writes: In a postmodern context, we have to justify the ‘why’ of the sacraments; it is not enough to explain their ‘how’ within a universe of meaning that no longer exists (2). At the Institute for Church Life, Cardinal Ouellet’s concern about the loss of the sacramental imagination is the central one for renewing liturgical prayer today. Liturgical theology, formation, and catechesis cannot simply proclaim again and again that liturgy is the source and summit of Christian life. We cannot yell at the top of our lungs that sacraments are important. We cannot return to a golden age of the early Church, of medieval Catholicism, of the liturgical movement, of right after Vatican II. At this moment in history, the very ground of meaning upon which the sacraments stands is up for grabs. We have to develop a liturgical and sacramental apologetics that invites women and men, lay and ordained, to see this meaning anew. …