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Father Muench Says...

The church, its sacraments transform us

Sept. 19, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I would like to focus today with you on our church, our Catholic Church, our source of holiness. As followers of Jesus, in faith, we are called to become holy. As church, we are to be a holy people. As disciples of Jesus and members of his church, we are challenged to make our world holy.

I am a Catholic. I have always been a member of the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, I found my vocation in the priesthood. I joined with all the others to be a priest and to dedicate my life to bring the message, the love and the life of Jesus to others. I did this especially through the celebration of the church’s sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of forgiveness, of penance.

You, through your faith in Jesus and your baptism, found your vocation in life as members of the Catholic Church. As lay men and women, you are journeying on the road to holiness through the sacraments of the church and your relationship with God. You are called to make our world holy by bringing Christ’s spirit and life into this world by living well as disciples of Jesus.

Church is all about holiness. Each of us, clergy and laity, are called by the Lord to holiness. We are all challenged to make our world a holy place as members of Christ’s church. We accomplish this best by uniting ourselves to our God and with each other in our Catholic Church. Jesus made us a holy people. Jesus came to this world to be one of us. Jesus made us a holy people by living among us, by teaching us, by suffering and dying for us, by leading us to a new life by rising from the dead. We are a holy people; Jesus was one of us.

Our Catholic Church through its sacraments, transforms us and makes us a holy people. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to us to move us interiorly to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole understanding and with our whole strength to love one another as Christ loved us.

Through our church, we are transformed. We become holy. Jesus showed us the way. As the Son of Man, he laid down his life for us all. No one has greater love than to lay down his life for his brother or sister. Jesus accepted his cross to show us the way. As we follow the Lord, we must accept our cross with peace and joy. As one Church we must be ready to reach out in love to help those who need us, especially those of our church.

The Second Vatican Council made it very clear what we are as church, a holy people. The Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) showed us our purpose as a church is holiness. Our vocation as clergy and laity is to become and live as a holy people. The Council states: “The tasks of life are many – holiness is one – that sanctity which is cultivated by all who act under God’s Spirit and obeying the Father’s voice and adoring God the Father in spirit and in truth, follow Christ, poor, humble and cross-bearing, that they may deserve to be partakers of his glory.”

Jesus promised to be with us for all time. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is always ready to be one with us. The true gift of my priesthood is that through my ordination I can do what Jesus did at the Last Supper and say what Jesus said to consecrate the Eucharist – to sacramentally bring the presence of the Lord to others. I can be the one who leads people to a unique holiness through this magnificent Eucharist.

Through Holy Communion, we – clergy and laity – receive the presence of the Lord in a true and powerful manner. We become holy through this sacrament. Jesus joins us. Jesus is one with us. Jesus goes with us into the world. Jesus becomes one with us in all that we do each day on our journey to holiness.

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