Monday, February 27, 2017

A Sacramental Church

I often get questions from my Christian brothers and sisters on how the Catholic experience is unique and different.  My response is that we are a “sacramental church.” So how is that distinctive?

All Christians believe God gave Himself to us 2000 years ago on the cross.  All Christians embrace Jesus through his Word – in Scripture.  But some believers also embrace him in a very real way through Sacrament. We believe that God gives Himself to us literally in Sacrament.

Sacraments are not human works.

Baptism is not a human work, a profession of faith and commitment to God. Baptism is a work of God, God’s declaration concerning the person baptized not the person’s declaration concerning God. You often hear Catholics say a sacrament is a sign.  But it is not “merely a sign,” it is a “reality.” God is acting through the sacrament. Baptism is not a sign of God’s cleansing; it is God cleansing. Eucharist is not a sign of an absent Christ; Eucharist is Christ present. God gives Himself to the baptized through the gift of baptism, and in the Eucharist, in reality, He gives Himself to us physically. The bread and wine are not mere symbols of his body and blood - they are indeed His body and blood.

That is why the Catholic Mass will always be the same year in and year out all around the world. Our worship service has been the same for two thousand years; as you can read from the year 155:  While our worship may not be as entertaining and exciting as that of other Christian denominations, it is what we have always done.  And thus, Catholics will remain faithful to this history; and true to our understanding of Christ’s unparalleled real presence at our worship service.

The Catholic Church is a sacramental church and always will be.

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