From last October, the Pastor’s Desk began reflections on the seven Sacraments. Each was instituted by Jesus Christ to give sanctifying grace to our souls. Grace is a share in God’s own life and is given to those who receive them worthily. To receive them worthily, a person must have the proper disposition, that is, he must believe in and want to cooperate with what the Sacrament does.
The purpose of the Sacraments is the sanctification of our souls and our salvation. Because such a great good is given to a person receiving a Sacrament, many want to celebrate the occasion with a party. Relatives and friends are invited to gather to rejoice over the fact that their loved one has been given the gift of God’s life in a special way. Although not necessary, it is a natural way to express our happiness because something wonderful has happened. Remember: Our Lord went with his mother to the wedding feast at Cana and the father in the parable of the prodigal son threw a big party to celebrate his son’s return from a sinful life.
So, the Sacrament is the reason for the celebration. Yet, sometimes it seems that the focus is on the party and not on the Sacrament. It’s almost as if the Sacrament is subordinate to the party. As a result, Baptisms are delayed because of waiting for the availability of a reception hall or for the ability of all guests to be present. The same is most often the case with weddings. Fortunately, each parish determines the specific dates for first Penance, first Holy Communion and Confirmation. But even with these Sacraments the preparation for the peripherals can outweigh the sacred event itself.
Whenever a celebration of a Sacrament is about to take place, prayer and reflection is necessary. Do we really believe what the particular Sacrament is for? Do we really want it for ourselves or for the child? In short, how valuable is the Sacrament to us?
I hope that we come out on the side of the Sacraments. Imagine God’s gift of his Life and Love coming to dwell in our souls! What more could we ask for?