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Father Muench Says...

Reflecting on the sacraments

June 7, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Last week, I attended the ordination ceremony at our St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg. On that day, Bishop Terry LaValley ordained one new priest, Father Lucas Gruber, and two new deacons, Carter Pierce and Douglas Schirmer. It was a special day for our diocese. I must admit it was a special day for me. Standing in the sanctuary with all the priests during the ceremony, I thought back to my own ordination many years ago. It was a time of meditation on being a Catholic priest. We believe that this new priest and these deacons are called by the Lord and are now transformed through this sacrament.

These ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate are sacraments of our Catholic Church, the sacrament of Holy Orders. All our sacraments are so important to our life as Catholics. Today I would like to share with you something about our Catholic sacraments – Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage and Holy Orders.

Our sacraments help to make people holy and build-up the Body of Christ. They are a way to relate to God throughout life’s transitions and help us to give praise and worship to God. They help us to nourish, strengthen and express our faith. Through our participation in our sacraments, we draw closer to our God. We allow God to become part of all that we are and do. Our Church’s sacraments communicate to each one of us a powerful participation in God’s love.

Just before Christ’s ascension, he commissioned his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The most important sacrament you and I will ever receive is our Baptism. In our Baptism, we are made disciples of our Lord. Jesus called this being born again. The Holy Spirit made us a new person, dedicated and strengthened to live a good Christian life. Each Easter we celebrate our Baptism – and rededicate our baptismal dedication to our following of the Lord Jesus. We celebrate this dedication and power given to us each time we receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

As Christians, our life is kept alive by our participation in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Each time we take part in the celebration of the holy Mass and receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior, we become a new person, ready and well prepared to live well as we follow Jesus. The person who comes to celebrate Mass is always transformed into a new and more alive follower of Jesus.

The sacrament of Penance brings the forgiveness of the Lord to us when we have sinned. When we turn to our God and confess our sinfulness, each time we approach the Lord in penance seeking reconciliation with the Lord, this sacrament brings the Lord’s forgiveness, calling us to conversion. The sacrament of Penance reminds us that the Lord never gives up on us.

Our Church gives us a sacrament that brings the power of the Holy Spirit to support us when we are sick and suffering, when we are nearing death. All those times when we need the power and support of the Lord, this sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick means that the Lord will walk with us in the times of suffering.

Our Church gives us a sacrament to support and help us as we enter our following our vocation in life. There is the sacrament of Marriage, God’s blessing as a couple enters this state of Marriage. This decision to marry is life changing, and the Church prays that this couple receives the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit, that they receive God’s love and that God’s love will increase for each other and live out their Marriage as their vocation, their way of life.

And so, we believe that in the sacrament of Holy Orders, priests, deacons, Bishops are transformed with the power of the Holy Spirit to become dedicated disciples of the Lord bringing the message of Jesus to our world, bringing God’s love to the people of their parishes and bringing their gifts to make our Church all that it should be.

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