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Father Muench Says...

Transfiguration, sacraments

August 16, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

In the last few columns, I have been concentrating on our Catholic sacraments. Today, let me begin by reminding you of what the Catechism tells us what a sacrament is: a sacrament is an efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us by the work of the Holy Spirit. Today I will consider with you the sacraments of vocation – the sacrament of holy orders and the sacrament of marriage.

I want to add something here – the recent Feast Day of the Transfiguration. I believe that you remember the story. I have no doubt that the apostles who were with Jesus on the mountain, Peter, John and James, were powerfully surprised and amazed by the importance of the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus did something to show them his support for them and demonstrate his divine love for them. I know that this event would always be a source of support and love for those apostles, especially when they experienced difficulties. When disturbed by difficult times, Peter, John and James placed themselves again on the Mountain of the Transfiguration.

I believe that these sacraments of holy orders and marriage are transfiguration moments for all of us who receive them. These sacraments will always become a source of God’s love and support throughout our lifetime.

Holy Orders: A man, praying over his vocation in life, decides that he is best suited to become a priest or a deacon. He studies and prepares for several years and is led to seek ordination, receiving the sacrament of holy orders. I believe that the sacrament is a transfiguration event. This ordination will become a lifelong profound memory and influences all that he does. It should be a constant source of God’s love for him and support for him throughout his life.

Each time new challenges – whether good or bad or difficult – touch his life, he must return to that time when he was called forward by the bishop to receive holy orders. I believe that this sacrament continues to bring the power of the Holy Spirit – the power of the sacrament – to support and strengthen him in a special way. I think of this as a transfiguration moment.

Marriage: I believe again that the sacrament of marriage is a transfiguration moment. It influences each couple’s whole life. A couple establishes a relationship, and they make decisions and plans to become married. In our Catholic Church, this marriage ceremony is a sacrament. I believe that this sacrament must be a part of a couple’s entire life. Always, especially during difficult times, the sacrament of marriage should be their source of support and love from the Lord, a source of the Lord’s love to transform the situation. It is a transfiguration moment.

I am told by many that married life can be challenging – even difficult. At these difficult times, a couple should find the support and love of the Lord in their sacrament of marriage. The power of this sacrament is a lifetime source of God’s support and presence with them each and every day.

We, Catholics, believe in vocation. Holy orders and marriage are sacraments of vocation. God calls us. God leads us. God shows us the way. We believe that God guides us – in big and small ways – to realize we are best suited to follow the Lord’s call. It is truly a call – God’s hand gently leading us. For some, they come to realize that they have developed the ability to be a good priest or deacon. Others will come to realize that they have the loving spirit and concern to be a married person.

Never forget your sacraments. They are your strength, your power to live well and to stay strong. They are your transfiguration moments, your moments of learning how great is the Lord’s love for you. They will always continue to show you how much our God loves you.

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