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Manual Celebrating the Mystery of Faith

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Can liturgical diversity be a source of tension? Always to be kept in mind is that adaptation to different cultures must never endanger unity of faith, or sacramental validity, or submission to hierarchical authority. The Seven Sacraments of the Church As we begin our reflection on each of the seven sacraments, it should be noted that they can be classified into three categories: The two sacraments of Orders and Matrimony are for the service of the communion and mission of the faithful. We must first be born in the supernatural life through Baptism, strengthened in this life by Confirmation, and nourished in the life of God by the Holy Eucharist.

What is the Sacrament of Baptism? It is the foundation of the whole Christian life, the gate to our life in the Spirit, and the door to the other sacraments. What are some of the names for Baptism?

It is also called the washing of rebirth, renewal by the Holy Spirit, and enlightenment. What are some pre-Christian figures of Baptism? Christ allowed Himself to be baptized in order to teach us: What is the history of Baptism in the Church? From the day of Pentecost to the present, Baptism has been the door of the Church. It is through Baptism that a person is purified, justified, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

What is the preparation for Baptism? In the early Church, this preparation involved several stages to ensure adequate understanding of the faith. Over the centuries, we have distinguished the preparation of adult converts from the training of children who are baptized in infancy. Also in mission countries, the Church allows the use of such initiation elements as are compatible with the Catholic faith. One major difference between Eastern and Western rites is that Easter Churches confer all three Sacraments of Initiation in infancy.

In the Roman rite, there are years of preparation of children before receiving First Confession and Communion as well as Confirmation. What are the principal aspects of the liturgy for Baptism? Anointing with the oil of catechumens, or laying on of hands, declares the renouncing of Satan and readiness to profess the true faith. In the Latin Church: In the liturgies of the East, the anointing is the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The white garment symbolizes that the newly baptized has been clothed in the vesture of Christ, that is, risen with Christ to supernatural life. There is a solemn blessing of the one baptized. In the case of infants, the mother also receives a special blessing. Who can receive Baptism? Every nonbaptized person, whether adult of child: In places recently evangelized, the normal procedure is to have adults go through the catechumenate.

This is an extensive formation in the Catholic faith. Children are baptized, even in infancy, on the premise that Baptism removes the stain of original sin.


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Infant Baptism was certainly practiced since the second century and most probably already in apostolic times. How important is faith for Baptism? Either the one to be baptized or, in the case of infants, the parents and sponsors must believe. No doubt the faith in the one receiving Baptism has to be developed. This is a grave responsibility for the parents and sponsors, to provide the necessary instruction and nurture of the virtue of faith received at Baptism.

Bishops and priests and, in the Latin rite, also deacons. But in case of necessity, anyone can baptize who has the intention to do what the Church does, and uses the Trinitarian formula and water. How necessary is Baptism?

'The mystery of faith'

Absolutely necessary for salvation, since the Church does not recognize any other sure way of being saved. At the same time, the Church teaches that those who suffer for the faith, and catechumens are saved even without Baptism of water. Moreover, the Church believes that since God wants everyone to be saved, there is such a thing as Baptism of desire. Yet, she does not cease insisting on the urgency of Baptism for children. What graces are received in Baptism?

The two basic graces are remission of sin and the new birth in the Spirit. The purification from sin means the remission of all the guilt, or estrangement from God, and all the penalty, or suffering due to sin. The inclination to sin, or concupiscence, remains but grace is received to overcome this sinful inclination and be crowned with victory over the struggle. The new birth in the Spirit means becoming a new creature, being incorporated into the Church, acquiring an sacramental bond of Christian unity, and receiving an indelible spiritual mark.

Explain in more detail this new birth in the Spirit. As a new creation, baptized persons receive sanctifying grace, the theological and moral virtues, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The sacramental bond includes all the baptized, even those who are not professed Catholics. They acquire a certain, albeit imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. The indelible mark character means that no one can be rebaptized.

Confirmation Confirmation binds the baptized more perfectly to the Church, endows them with special strength from the Holy Spirit, and thus obliges them more strictly to be true witnesses of Christ to spread and defend the Catholic faith by their words and actions. What is the role of Confirmation in the economy of salvation? In the Old Testament, the coming of the Messiah was foretold, as was a special coming of the Spirit of the Lord. However, as Christ made clear, this Spirit was to be shared by those upon whom the Apostles laid their hands.

In the early Church, there were two titles by which this sacrament was named: How do the Eastern and Western traditions differ? In the Western or Roman tradition, the increase in infant baptisms occasioned the separation of Confirmation from Baptism. However, when adults are baptized, they are commonly confirmed by the bishop or priest who has just baptized them. What is the ritual of Confirmation?

Anointing with the oil of chrism symbolizes cleansing and making flexible, healing and soothing, beautifying and strengthening.

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The anointing imparts a spiritual seal that marks the confirmed person as totally committed to Christ, enrolled in His service, and assured of His special grace of protection and care. When separated from Baptism, the rite of Confirmation includes the renewal of the promises of faith and the profession of faith. Also, when adults are confirmed, they assist at Mass and receive the Eucharist after Confirmation. Also in the Roman rite, the bishop extends his hands over the persons being confirmed. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their Helper and Guide.

Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of Knowledge and filial affection; fill them with the spirit of the fear of God. Through Christ our Lord. In the Latin ritual, it consists of anointing with chrism on the forehead with the hand and pronouncing the words: Each anointing is accompanied by the words: What are the effects of Confirmation?

The basic effect is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, similar to what the Apostles received on Pentecost. Specifically, the Holy Spirit: Can Confirmation be received more than once? No, it imprints a permanent character on our souls. Who can receive the Sacrament of Confirmation?

Everyone who is baptized should be confirmed. In the Latin rite, the person should have reached the age of discretion. But in danger of death, even infants should be confirmed. What is the preparation for Confirmation? There should be adequate instruction in the faith and the responsibilities of belonging to the Church of Christ.

Those to be confirmed are to be in the state of grace. Also, there should be a sponsor, preferably the same as for Baptism, to show the unity of the two sacraments. Who is the minister of Confirmation? The originating minister is the bishop. In the Eastern Churches, the bishop or priest who baptizes also confirms. But the chrism used in both East and West must have been consecrated by the bishop or patriarch.

In the Latin rite, the ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop, although for serious reasons he may delegate a priest. Any priest should confirm even the youngest children who are in danger of death. He did this in order to perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again. That is why the other sacraments are directed to the Eucharist and the Eucharistic celebration is already the heavenly liturgy by anticipating eternal life.

What are some of the names by which the Eucharist is called? Each of the following names expresses a different aspect of this treasure of faith. What is the significance of the bread and wine in the Eucharist? Even so, bread and wine express the goodness of creation. The cup of blessing symbolizes the New Jerusalem at the end of time. When did Christ promise the Eucharist? After He worked the miracle of multiplying the loaves to feed the multitude. His promise to give His own flesh to eat and blood to drink divided the disciples.

But instead of retracting the promise, He asked the Apostles if they, too, wished to go away. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist? Do this in remembrance of me. By this action, Christ gave the Passover its ultimate meaning and anticipated the final Passover of the Church in the glory of His kingdom. By giving this command to the Apostles, Christ gave them the power to do what He had done, and of communicating this power to their successors, the bishops, until the end of time. Thus was ensured the preservation of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

Thus, too, was preserved the celebration of Mass every day, especially on Sunday. Thus, finally, the Eucharist became the center of the Church for the obvious reason that the Eucharist is Christ. What is one of the earliest records of the Mass in the Catholic Church? It occurs in the letter of St. Justin, written about A. There is even provision for deacons bringing Holy Communion to the faithful who could not attend the Mass.

What stands out in this historic document is that there were and are, two fundamental parts to every Mass: Explain the sequence of the Eucharistic celebration. The gathering of the faithful for Mass is the precondition for having a Eucharistic assembly. The Liturgy of the Word draws on the Old and New Testaments, and includes petitions for all the people. The Offertory makes clear that the Holy Eucharist is first of all a sacrifice.

Along with the bread and wine, from earliest times, the faithful brought their own gifts to the altar. The Eucharistic Prayer is both a prayer of thanksgiving and consecration. By the Words of Institution, bread and wine are separately consecrated to become the Body and Blood of Christ. Thus, the sacrifice He offered once for all on Calvary is reenacted on the altar.

The intercessions that follow show that the Eucharist is offered everywhere throughout the world. In Communion, the faithful are nourished on the living Christ. But they must be truly faithful, who believe in the Savior and are in communion with the pope and pastors of the Church. How is the Eucharist a sacramental sacrifice? The Eucharist is the sacramental sacrifice in which the Church offers to God the Father what He himself has created.

She gives Him the bread and wine, which by His power become the living Jesus Christ. How is the Eucharist a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving? It is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father as an act of gratitude for the blessings of His creation, redemption, and sanctification. It is a sacrifice of praise by which the Church glorifies the Father through Christ, with Christ, as an acceptable sacrifice in Christ.

How is the Eucharist the sacrificial memorial of Christ? The Eucharist is a memorial Greek anamnesis as both the recollection of past events and the proclamation of the marvels that God has done for men. These events become present and actual. Christ is now carrying out His Sacrifice of the Cross. What He does now is make Himself present in order to apply the fruits of Calvary by communicating to us the graces He merited on the Cross. The Mass and Calvary are one sacrifice. It is the same Victim who offered Himself the, in a bloody manner, who now offers Himself in an unbloody manner through the ministry of priests.

How is the Eucharist the sacrificial memorial of the Church? In the Eucharist, the Church offers herself with Christ by giving to the Father all the praise, suffering, prayer, and labor of her members. In the Eucharist, the Church is united as one Body in communion with the Bishop of Rome and the bishop of the place where Mass is offered. She intercedes for all the priestly ministers who offer their Masses for and in union with the Church.

The Eucharist is finally offered for the faithful departed, that they may enter into the light and peace of Christ. In the words of St. How is Christ present in the Eucharist? In the Eucharist, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ, is truly, really, and substantially contained. How does the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?

Yes, He is wholly present in each species and in every particle. Thus the breaking of the host does not divide Christ. How are we to worship the Eucharist? During Mass, we are to express our faith in the Real Presence of Christ by genuflecting or profoundly bowing as a sign of our adoration of the Lord. After celebration of Mass, the consecrated hosts are to be preserved with the greatest reverence for veneration by the faithful and for carrying in procession. What is the role of the tabernacle in the veneration of the Eucharist?

Originally used to reserve the Eucharist for the sick and imprisoned, the tabernacle is now an integral part of a Catholic church. Here the Eucharistic Lord is reserved for silent adoration and prayer. He remains in the Eucharist to provide us the same privilege enjoyed by His contemporaries in Palestine: What does the altar signify? It signifies both the Eucharistic sacrifice and communion.

In fact, it symbolizes Christ Himself, who now offers Himself for our sins and invites us to receive Him at His holy table. How should we prepare for Holy Communion? We are to make sure there is no grave sin on our souls. The prescribed fast should be observed. Our bodily deportment, including our clothes, should reflect our interior dispositions.

How often should Holy Communion be received? Assuming the necessary dispositions, Communion should be received at the very least once a year, especially during the Easter season. However, Communion is recommended at every Mass attended, even every day. Should Communion be received under both forms? In the Eastern Churches, this is the established custom.

What are the effects of Holy Communion? The most fundamental effect is the deepening of our union with Christ. From this follow many other spiritual benefits. When may Communion be received by Christians who are not Catholic? They may be given Holy Communion under the following conditions: How is the Eucharist the pledge of future glory?

It is the pledge of future glory on the promise of Christ. Because the graces communicated by Christ in the Eucharist assure us of reaching heavenly glory. Even on earth we have a foretaste of heaven in the measure that we avail ourselves of the light and strength that the Eucharistic Christ confers on those who believe in Him. The Sacraments of Healing Jesus Christ came into the world to heal the sick and restore to life those who were spiritually dead. He therefore instituted the two sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick.

Their purpose is to continue His mission of restoring to health, and back to life, those who have been even mortally wounded by sin. Penance and Reconciliation What are the names by which the first sacrament of healing is called? It is the Sacrament of Conversion because it restores sinners to friendship with God. It is the Sacrament of Penance because it consecrates the three steps required by the Church, namely, conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

It is the Sacrament of Pardon because the sacramental absolution by a priest gives pardon forgiveness and peace to the penitent. Why did Christ institute the Sacrament of Penance? Because He knew that, although baptized, His followers would fall into sin. They would have to struggle for conversion if they were to become holy and reach eternal life. Ambrose, there are two conversions: What is interior penance? What are some forms of penance in the Christian life? The Bible and the Church Fathers identify the three basic forms of penance as fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Regular examination of conscience, spiritual direction, and suffering opposition to the true faith are recognized penitential practices.

The daily carrying of the cross in union with our Lord is the most assured kind of penance. Reception of the Eucharist is a most effective way of expiating sin and preserving oneself from the contagion of sin. Scripture reading, the Divine Office, and all the forms of Catholic worship deepen our spirit of conversion. Who alone forgives sin? Only God forgives sins. Christ forgives sins because He is God. He instituted the Church to forgive sins in His name through the Apostles and their successors in the priestly ministry.

What is reconciliation with the Church? This is the restoration of communion with the Body of the faithful. Sin alienates, forgiveness reunites. Thus, reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God. How is the Sacrament of Penance the second plank of salvation? Has there been a development of discipline in the Sacrament of Penance? Yes, mainly in a lessening of the rigor and publicity, and an increase in the frequency, along with confessing just venial sins.

What are the unchangeable elements in the practice of this sacrament? They are mainly two: What is the formula of absolution in the Latin rite? Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is the first duty of a penitent. What is perfect contrition? It is sorrow for sin mainly motivated by the love of God, which removes the guilt of venial sins.

If joined with the intention to receive the Sacrament of Penance, mortal sins are also remitted. What is imperfect contrition? It is sorrow for sin motivated by fear of eternal punishment or of other sufferings due to sin. They are in the third person, not the second. The Latin originals are like an exclamation that speaks directly to the Lord Jesus.

The dialog of the priest and people after the consecration is something that expresses the essence of the Eucharist. This mystery is not like something out of Agatha Christie, a puzzle to be solved, but a reality that we accept in faith because we cannot possible comprehend it just by reason.

Religious mysteries, on the contrary, require the assent of the intellect and will, not more clues. In the new translation, which will be in use from the first Sunday of Advent, the response of the people will have three options, instead of the four that are presently used. The new translations are as follows:. These can be unpacked theologically and merit our meditation. This is what the old acclamation declared, that Christ died for us, that he rose again and that we await his return in glory.

They also show that our memorial is not just about events from the past. Swiss priest Pascal Desthieux illustrated this by a particularly appropriate comparison. When a husband and wife celebrate their anniversary, this is not just about the past. The fact that they are celebrating the date has to do with their ongoing relationship. Although anything is possible in the absurd and anarchic way people live nowadays, it is not likely that a couple not committed to each other would memorialize the day they were joined together if it did not have a meaning in the present.

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The two of them remember the past but the event they celebrate has ramifications in the present and for the future. In a similar way, the community of faith remembers the most important events in human history, the sacrificial death of Jesus the Christ not just to look toward the past. The present action — the memorial — is about our relationship with Christ now. It refers back to the past, speaking about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Nevertheless, there is a clear reference to the future in all three acclamations. But there is yet another manner in which Christ is present in His Church, a manner which surpasses all the others; it is His presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is for this reason "a more consoling source of devotion, a more lovely object of contemplation, a more effective means of sanctification than all the other sacraments.

The reason is clear; it contains Christ Himself and it is "a kind of perfection of the spiritual life; in a way, it is the goal of all the sacraments. When Christian literature was still in its infancy, the unknown author of that work we know as the "Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" wrote as follows on this subject: The same we read in St.

Cyprian, writing in defense of the Church against schism: For when the Lord, in speaking of bread which is produced by the compacting of many grains of wheat, refers to it as His Body, He is describing our people whose unity He has sustained, and when He refers to wine pressed from many grapes and berries, as His Blood, He is speaking of our flock, formed by the fusing of many united together. But before all of these, St. Paul had written to the Corinthians: While the eucharistic symbolism brings us to an understanding of the effect proper to this Sacrament, which is the unity of the mystical Body, it does not indicate or explain what it is that makes this Sacrament different from all others.

The constant teaching which the Catholic Church passes on to her catechumens, the understanding of the Christian people, the doctrine defined by the Council of Trent, the very words used by Christ when He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, compel us to acknowledge that "the Eucharist is that flesh of Our Savior Jesus Christ who suffered for our sins and whom the Father in His loving kindness raised again. Ignatius of Antioch, we may add those which Theodore of Mopsueta, a faithful witness to the faith of the Church on this point, addressed to the faithful: This is a symbol of My Body, and this a symbol of My Blood but: The Council of Trent, basing itself on this faith of the Church, "openly and sincerely professes that within the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, after the Consecration of the bread and wine, Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is really, truly and substantially contained under those outward appearances.

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To avoid misunderstanding this sacramental presence which surpasses the laws of nature and constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind[50] we must listen with docility to the voice of the teaching and praying Church. This voice, which constantly echoes the voice of Christ, assures us that the way Christ is made present in this Sacrament is none other than by the change of the whole substance of the bread into His Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into His Blood, and that this unique and truly wonderful change the Catholic Church rightly calls transubstantiation.

However, the reason they take on this new significance and this new finality is simply because they contain a new "reality" which we may justly term ontological. Not that there lies under those species what was already there before, but something quite different; and that not only because of the faith of the Church, but in objective reality, since after the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances, under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical "reality" is bodily present, although not in the same way that bodies are present in a given place.

For this reason the Fathers took special care to warn the faithful that in reflecting on this most august Sacrament, they should not trust to their senses, which reach only the properties of bread and wine, but rather to the words of Christ which have power to transform, change and transmute the bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

For, as those same Fathers often said, the power that accomplishes this is that same power by which God Almighty, at the beginning of time, created the world out of nothing. John Chrysostom emphasizes this point, saying: The priest standing there in the place of Christ says these words but their power and grace are from God. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, is in full agreement with the Bishop of Constantinople when he writes in his commentary on the Gospel of St. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ's Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ.

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, dealing with the Eucharistic change, says: For it is no less extraordinary to give things new natures than to change their natures. However, there is no need to assemble many testimonies. Rather let us recall that firmness of faith with which the Church with one accord opposed Berengarius, who, yielding to the difficulties of human reasoning, was the first who dared deny the Eucharistic change. More than once she threatened to condemn him unless he retracted. Thus it was that our predecessor, St. Gregory VII, ordered him to pronounce the following oath:. They are present not only by means of a sign and of the efficacy of the Sacrament, but also in the very reality and truth of their nature and substance.

These words fully accord with the doctrine of the mystery of the Eucharistic change as set forth by the ecumenical councils. After the Council of Trent, our predecessor, Pius VI on the occasion of the errors of the Synod of Pistoia, warned parish priests when carrying out their office of teaching, not to neglect to speak of transubstantiation, one of the articles of the faith.

Moreover the Catholic Church has held on to this faith in the presence in the Eucharist of the Body and Blood of Christ, not only in her teaching but also in her practice, since she has at all times given to this great Sacrament the worship which is known as Latria and which may be given to God alone. The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers the cult of Latria to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving Consecrated Hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to solemn veneration, and carrying them processionally to the joy of great crowds of the faithful.

In the ancient documents of the Church we have many testimonies of this veneration. The pastors of the church in fact, solicitously exhorted the faithful to take the greatest care in keeping the Eucharist which they took to their homes. Hippolytus warns the faithful. In fact the faithful thought themselves guilty, and rightly so, as Origen recalls, if after they received the Body of the Lord in order to preserve it with all care and reverence, a small fragment of it fell off through negligence. The same pastors severely reproved those who showed lack of reverence if it happened. This is attested to by Novitianus whose testimony in the matter is trustworthy.

He judged as deserving condemnation any one who came out of Sunday service carrying with him as usual the Eucharist, the sacred Body of the Lord, "not going to his house but running to places of amusement. On the other hand St. Cyril of Alexandria rejects as folly the opinion of those who maintained that if a part of the Eucharist was left over for the following day it did not confer sanctification.

Nor should we forget that in ancient times the faithful, harassed by the violence of persecution or living in solitude out of love for monastic life nourished themselves even daily, receiving Holy Communion by their own hands when the priest or deacon was absent. We say this not in order that there may be some change in the way of keeping the Eucharist and of receiving Holy Communion which was later on prescribed by Church laws and which now remain in force, but rather that we may rejoice over the faith of the Church which is always one and the same.

This faith also gave rise to the feast of Corpus Christi which was first celebrated in the diocese of Liege specially through the efforts of the servant of God, Blessed Juliana of Mount Cornelius, and which our predecessor Urban IV extended to the Universal Church. From it have originated many practices of Eucharistic piety which under the inspiration of divine grace have increased from day to day and with which the Catholic Church is striving ever more to do homage to Christ, to thank Him for so great a gift and to implore His mercy. Tirelessly promote the cult of the Eucharist, the focus where all other forms of piety must ultimately emerge.

May the faithful, thanks to your efforts, come to realize and experience ever more Perfectly the truth of these words: Let him approach, let him believe, let him be incorporated so that he may receive life. Let him not refuse union with the members, let him not be a corrupt member, deserving to be cut off, nor a disfigured member to be ashamed of.

Let him be a grateful, fitting and healthy member.

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Let him cleave to the body, let him live by God and for God. Let him now labor here on earth, that he may afterwards reign in heaven. It is to be desired that the faithful, every day and in great numbers, actively participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass, receive Holy Communion with a pure heart, and give thanks to Christ Our Lord for so great a gift. Let them remember these words: In the course of the day the faithful should not omit to visit the Blessed Sacrament, which according to the liturgical laws must be kept in the churches with great reverence in a most honorable location.

Such visits are a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, an acknowledgment of the Lord's presence. No one can fail to understand that the Divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people an incomparable dignity.