Have you thought recently about the sacraments? Perhaps you are thinking that they are simply an event to be completed once that no longer requires any new action on your part?If so, maybe that is why your experience of church has become boring and one dimensional. Let’s take a new look at a few of the sacraments:
In Baptismyou were cleansed, blessed and welcomed into community, with promises from your parents, grandparents, and the Church to help guide and support you in responding to God’s offer. Each time you bless yourself or make a professing of faith, you are giving your response and "yes" to that offer of God’s salvation in your life.
In the Eucharistwe are given the opportunity to join our yes to that given by Christ on the cross. There is Christ’s offer of Himself in ultimate love and mercy for us, but also we bring all that we are and do and offer it to God as well. We bring all of our strengths, and weaknesses, all of our joys and sorrows. We bring, in truth, our brokenness. Notice that I said “our” because we do this also as a community. So when you speak of hypocrisy, we all come knowing that there are times when we have sinned and our relationship with God has suffered. In the Eucharist, we are renewing that relationship, and recommitting ourselves with our lives. All of this requires our participation and our response. Do we look for Christ’s presence in the priest? In the people gathered? In the reading of the Word, listening? In the offering of the gifts, do we see Christ’s sacrifice and reconciliation to us? How do we respond? Jesus took the bread, blessed, broke it and shared it with all; we are called to do the same, not only with bread but also with our very lives. And as such we need to be committed to dealing with hunger, poverty and justice in the world around us.
In Reconciliationwe are giving the opportunity to experience and celebrate God’s grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness in our lives and in community. God isn’t as concerned with the “mistakes” but with repairing the relationship that has suffered. Jesus takes our frailties, and fills us with health, peace, and hope. We are called to seek to reconcile or repair relationships, love justice, and seek peace and hope for those who have no hope. Think for a moment about your relationship with your best friend. If you think about your relationship with God, how could this be better? Have you made time for your friendship with God in prayer, answered his calls of love and grace? Have you said sorry when you realize that you have chosen to act unloving? In those times, we don’t just hurt ourselves but our choices effect others we love and the community in relationship. Therefore, in penance we are given a chance to receive forgiveness, to show we are sorry and to repair these relationships ... and celebrate as a community.
Even Confirmationis not an end but a challenge to go forth and to be a visible sign of the body of Christ in the world. God confirms you as a member of the body of Christ and then the response and choice is yours. It is a call to a higher standard to strive for love, mercy, and peace, not only within the doors of the Church, but in the world. To the parents specifically, there is a challenge to be a model of faith: more than going through the motions. Also seek to encourage your child to become involved in youth and peer ministry activities so that they can experience community more fully. Participate in outreach activities together, so that they too can come to understand God’s offer and our response to care for others, to love deeply and show forgiveness and mercy.
Copyright 2019 Elizabeth Reardon
About the Author
Elizabeth Reardon is Director of Parish Ministries and Pastoral Associate for the Collaborative Parishes of Resurrection & St. Paul in Hingham, Massachusetts; a wife and mother of three, and writer at TheologyIsAVerb.com. Her writing is an invitation to seek and create space for God in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.