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Father Muench Says...

Sacraments bring us blessing, support

Jan. 23, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Our Catholic Church liturgical year ended the Christmas Season with the celebration of the meaningful feast in honor of the Baptism of the Lord. On that Sunday, the Gospel reading reminded us of the words of John the Baptist, who said Jesus would come with Baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, and that all who received this Baptism of Jesus must live well as baptized people. This Sunday is a celebration of the Baptism that all Catholics receive.

On this year’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I watched a television coverage of Pope Francis leading a Mass and a celebration of Baptism. On that day, he baptized nearly one hundred babies in the Sistine Chapel. It was certainly his way of highlighting the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism.

St. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as our Messiah who will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire. Baptism blesses and celebrates a new birth. This is truly being born again in the Lord sacramentally.

Sacraments are the life of our Catholic faith. Through our sacraments, we are united in love and faith with our God at each moment of life. The sacraments of our church bring blessing and support to our life as disciples of Jesus. Let us take a moment to remember our other sacraments.

Confirmation: our sacrament that celebrates our decision to live well as disciples of Jesus. In Confirmation, we choose to live as Jesus taught us, and we find support and blessing to meet all of life’s challenges.

Penance: the sacrament that celebrates God’s forgiving love and helps us to meet God’s challenges so that we can change all that will make our lives what they should be. In this sacrament we find God’s blessing for our times of conversion.

Holy Eucharist: our sacrament that celebrates life – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In the reception of this sacrament, we find new life and love through our union with the Lord, just as Jesus united himself with his apostles at the Last Supper.

Marriage and Ordination: these sacraments bless and support those entering in the vocations of marriage and priesthood and gives the Lord’s constant support to live out all challenges in these vocations.

Anointing of the Sick a sacrament that bring the church’s blessing and anointing of the blessed oil to support and strengthen with the power of the Lord for all seriously ill, especially those close to death.

Catholic sacraments are special rituals – rich with meaning and sometimes symbolism – to guide us, to teach us and to show us the way, bringing the power and love of our God in a special way into our lives and at every time of life. Each sacrament challenges us to live well as followers of Jesus.

Our sacraments use the things of this world. The primary symbol of Baptism is water – water that celebrates the new life that comes in Baptism and challenges us to recognize our place in creation. Water is the most precious substance on our planet; without water, no life. No other planet has water – and so no life. We are the blessed people in God’s creation. We are the whole show. We are the heart and soul of creation. We are saved – a holiness celebrated in Baptism. Our life must be meaningful; we are baptized.

One other symbol to mention to you in Baptism is the formal presentation of a person’s name. That name, that gift from our parents, separates us completely from all other people. I want to share with you a story that seems to fit in here. This is a fifty-year-old story for me. I have been telling this story ever since it happened. I was a young priest standing on the steps of St. Andrew’s Church here in town, and a young boy (I wonder where he is now) came riding by on his bike. I shouted, “Hi, Champ.” I remember him looking back at me and he said, “My name is John.” He wanted me to realize how special he was.

We are a sacramental church. Our sacraments are our prayers and our life. The sacraments unite us to the Lord through our Catholic Church.

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