The Sacraments of the Church (Pt. 2)

Sacramentssg

If the Sacraments are the Marks of Christ given to the Church, instituted by Christ to give grace, then Jesus Christ Himself is the Sacrament of God given to humanity. All that can be said about the Sacraments can be said about Jesus Christ. He points to the source of grace. He effects grace and confers grace. He is the very thing to which He points. Jesus Christ is THE Sacrament, and from Him, all other Sacraments flow.

It is in the Sacraments that we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Sacraments are rooted in His person and in His action. The Sacraments are tied to the personal encounters that people experienced with Jesus Christ. The Sacraments are the result of ordinary people experiencing God in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, who extended grace to all. And just as with the Sacraments of the Church, that grace is experienced by those who would receive it.

The Sacraments are in essence Jesus Christ with us, just as Jesus Christ, the Son and Sacrament of God, was God with us. So the Sacrament of Jesus Christ is present through the Seven Sacraments of the Church. The Sacraments are a declaration from God and Christ that we are not abandoned, unloved, or unwanted, just as Jesus Himself was to the people of His time. The Sacraments are the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to be with us until the end of this age.

The Church is the Body of Christ – it is Jesus Christ in and to the world. Within the Church, Jesus Christ, the Word of God is read and proclaimed. It is in the Sacraments that Jesus Christ is once more “made flesh” – they are the Word of God enacted and experienced. When we come to the Sacraments, we encounter the Living Christ. When we receive the Sacraments, we receive who and what Christ is, and we are received by Christ.

seven sacraments

The Sacraments become the Spirit of Christ within the Body of Christ. The New Testament writers again and again describe what Jesus did and said to make their case for who Jesus was and is. It is His saving action that they highlight over and over. They refer over and over to what would become the Sacraments of the Church, which were embodied in the Perfect Sacrament of God to give us grace.

The Holy Spirit of God was active in the deeds of Christ, which became the Sacraments of the Church. That same Holy Spirit, as well as Christ’s own authority, was passed down to the Apostles, and from the Apostles, was passed down to bishops, who ordain the priests and the deacons. Therefore, the same Holy Spirit who was present in Christ is present in the Sacraments of the Church, and all who receive the Sacraments receive the Holy Spirit and have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Through these Sacraments, which are personal encounters and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the people of the Church take Jesus Christ with them as they go back out into the world.

Just as Jesus Christ was a sign and participated in God’s presence in the world, the Sacraments became the sign of Christ’s presence in the Church. Just as in the physical body of Jesus Christ people encountered God, in the Church, the Body of Christ, people continue to encounter Jesus Christ. More than that, the people become the Body of Jesus Christ to the world. This means that the same Holy Spirit who was in Christ, and passed down to the bishops through the Apostles, and which is present in the Sacraments – that same Holy Spirit – is present with and in each member of the Church. Whenever any particular member of the Church acts in the Spirit of Christ encountered in the Sacraments, that person becomes a sign of the presence of God in the world. When Spirit-filled individuals love, when they forgive, when they reach out to others in need, when they address the needs of the poor, the neglected, the disaffected and despised, whenever ANY individual member of the Church does any of these things, that member becomes the Living Presence of Christ, who is the Living Presence of God, in the world. That person, like Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, extends and confers grace upon others.

This says something important about the Church itself! A Sacrament is a sign that was instituted by Christ to give grace. This grace flows from Christ, through the Apostles, down through the line of bishops, and into the priest, deacons, and laity of the Church, so that even individual members of the Church may extend grace to others when so empowered by the Holy Spirit to love as Christ love, forgive as Christ forgives, be present as Christ is present. The Church was instituted by Christ and it extends grace to the world through the entire Body of Christ – from Jesus Christ to person in the pew. Then this means that just as Jesus Christ was the Sacrament of God for the people of His time, and that the Seven Sacraments of the Church are the Sacraments of Christ for the Church, the Church itself is the Sacrament of God and Christ for the world – it has been instituted by Christ to give grace to all who will receive that grace.

7 sacramenta

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