If you've been reading up until now, you read Pt. 1 our Day in the Life, Pt. 2 Why Bother With Holiness Training (And Why Attend Mass) and then Pt. 3 Practical Parenting Tips. Today, I want to talk about the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, which are: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Holy cow! I already feel in over my head.
Now, while "Sacraments" should fill us with joy and should be fascinating and endlessly interesting, the truth is, our eyes glaze over when we hear a bunch of "Seminary words." What do I mean by that? Well, unless we've gone to Seminary, trust me... it's not going to do anything except bore us ... yes, bore us to tears. Which is truly a shame. Right?
And so my question is: it possible to talk about the word "Sacraments" without boring you and making you click away?!;) I know that sounds so terrible to say, but isn't it kind of true? My purpose in this series is to give you a few good, stimulating thoughts that you can take home and chew on.
How can we really "hear" these things? I'm not Seminary-trained, (and in fact, I'm a "new" Catholic), but like many of you, I'm interested in things like "Baptism" and "First Communion," because, I care. But most simply, I'm interested because I have kids, who I am trying to train in these things! Trying being the key word, here. I want to raise them to have faith. I know that much. I want them to be curious. I want them to love Jesus. And I want them to have faith in Him.
FAITH. That's what the Sacraments are about, folks!
Savannah, GA ~ birthplace of Flannery O'Connor
All of my kids, at this point, have been baptized. Why in the world do we Catholics perform infant baptism? Isn't that like a weird Old Testament belief, based on the idea that boys need to be circumcised? Aren't you misapplying that information or those verses in an incorrect manner?
No. It is closely tied to circumcision. That's because circumcision is an outward sign of an inward sign, transformation, and I would hope, an inward reality. And while it isn't just a magic potion as water is poured on their head, causing sanctity, it is an outward sign of the deeply inward truth: This is a Child of God. What does that mean? It means this child is promised- by parents and by Godparents- to be raised right. (Raisin' em right.) Baptism is the sign that this child grows up in a God-fearing home, where Satan - and the other idols of the world and of our culture- are shirked.
The sooner we make that declaration and seal it with the spiritual promise, the sooner those idols can fall away, and the sooner that child can be transformed by the working of water and the Holy Spirit!
The reason we cannot say it is "Poof!" a magic potion, is because the working out of our salvation is not just as simple as that. There isn't a magic formula. However, it is mysterious. I think of an example from the blogosphere of Jennifer Fulwiler, who was baptized as a child, but fell away from her faith as an adult, only to start her blog "Conversion Diary," and (if you read her bestselling book, published by Ignatius Press) then completely turn her life around, living and leading her family as a faithful Catholic. If you haven't read it, get on that! (It was my favorite book of 2014.)
Now, I'd like to talk about the Why of the other Sacraments. However, I think what would be better, would be to instead ask: What are 7 Reasons for Trusting in the Power of the Sacraments?
1. Faith matters; and faith that these Sacraments are of God and that they really do matter. (See: above and read the story of amazing radio host and author, Jennifer Fulwiler, forrealz! ;) Here's that link again.
2. Conversion to the totality of the Doctrines of Christ: This means, Belief that Peter held the keys to the Kingdom, and that Fullness of Faith can be found in Rome. How is this possible? Read on!
3. These Sacraments are truly effectual and ignorance-confronting. Why Eucharist? First, read my musings here. (What Converting is *Really* Like). Once we experience it, there's no going back. In that post, I discussed how a real encounter with Catholic Eucharist transformed my opinion on the Catholic church.
4. Clarity/Hope If you've been reading, or have read, my series up until now, you've gotten a window into our world. You've heard all of my soapboxes, and you have some idea of how we are raising our kids. Here is a good "formula" for you: (because sometimes, you just need a formula;)
"Three things are necessary for man's salvation: to know what he ought to believe; what he ought to desire; and what he ought to do.” - Aquinas
(taken from the Twitter feed of Catholic evangelist and convert, Brandon Vogt).
The Eucharist does exactly that! It helps us to know what we ought to believe.
It helps us to know what we ought to desire.
It helps us to know what we ought to do
(And I would add that it helps us to know what to say, Aquinas! ;)
Isn't there so much clarity and hope in that?!
Read more: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/infant-baptism
5. The Sacraments give us not so much happiness, but holiness.
Why Marriage? Why any of them?
Why any of them, indeed?
Marriage is not meant to make us happy, it is meant to make us holy.
I can't really go into all of the individual Sacraments right now, for I have no Seminary degree to show for these things... but, the above trope will work for all them, be it Penance Matrimony or Holy Orders. Suffice it to say, the definition of Sacrament is something meant to make us holy. And no, I'm not just saving time and being lazy. It really is that simple, and I feel like expounding on it would be beating a dead horse.
That is the why... the epitome of the Mass and Catholic Culture is: beautiful souls, fully informed by Christ and his Church, seeking to do His will.
What more do we need... to know, to experience, to understand?
6. A real experience with Jesus, perhaps. Christianity. And then in the end, the fullness of the faith, I would argue!;) We can look to the Bible and other theological arguments to understand Catholicism in the correct context. If you are at the point of searching deeply and want some stimulation, I recommend checking out this book. (I actually have not read it myself, but I think it would speak to this situation, for sure).
7. And.... Community. In the fullness of the faith, we have togetherness. Our blinders fall off. The truth - and a real encounter with truth- changes us into different people. It really does!
May we have a real encounter with Jesus... leading us to faith... leading us to the Sacraments, and coming into a community, that is held together by Rome.
And in the comments, if you want, please share a post related to these things. (it could be a link to your blog or somebody else's Catholic blog.)
linking up with ~PHFR~ and 7 Quick Takes and sharing with the #CWBS