Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marriage and Holy Orders – Vocation and Sacrament

Seventh Grade CCD – February 24, 2010

I. Vocations – the Universal Call to Holiness

  • a vocation (from the Latin vocare, to call) is a particular state of life or occupation to which one is especially drawn or called
  • we are each called by God to a life of holiness, a common vocation to love God and love one another
  • there are two specific ways to realize, in its entirety, the vocation to love – either marriage or the religious life, e.g. the priesthood or religious brother or religious sister (nun)
  • in the Sacrament of Confirmation, our vocation is to be a complete Christian, to be an active participant in the mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus to the world

II. The Paschal Mystery in the Sacraments of the Church
  • a Sacrament is (i) an outward visible sign (ii) instituted by Christ (iii) to convey the invisible reality of sacramental and sanctifying grace, so that we might be redeemed and sanctified
  • the “outward sign” is composed of the matter (e.g. water) and form (words) together with the right and proper intention of the minister, that is, celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church
  • since we are bodily creatures who experience and come to know things through our bodily senses, the Sacraments offer us a way for us to know the reality of being provided certain graces
    • In his Theology of the Body, in a catechesis on the creation of mankind in the Book of Genesis, Pope John Paul II said, “there is constituted a primordial sacrament, understood as a sign that transmits effectively in the visible world the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial. And this is the mystery of Truth and Love, the mystery of divine life, in which man really participates. In the history of man, it is original innocence which begins this participation and it is also a source of original happiness. The sacrament, as a visible sign, is constituted with man, as a "body," by means of his "visible" masculinity and femininity. The body, in fact, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus be a sign of it.” (General Audience of February 20, 1980)
  • the Sacraments were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church, which has the authority to confer them or withhold them
  • it is Christ who acts in the Sacraments through the Holy Spirit
    • by virtue of the saving work of Christ, the Sacraments are efficacious ex opere operato – they convey the particular grace by the very fact that the sacramental action is performed
    • because it is Christ who is acting, the efficacy of the Sacraments does not depend upon the personal holiness of the minister
  • “sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament
  • the recipient must necessarily have the right disposition to receive the graces to be conferred
  • Baptism and Confession/Penance give sanctifying grace
  • the other Sacraments increase sanctifying graces in our souls, such that one must already be in a state of grace (rather than a state of sin) to receive them
  • additional ceremonies or actions are used in the rites in order to increase our reverence and devotion for the Sacraments and to explain their meaning and effects
  • the seven sacraments are --
    • the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
    • the Sacraments of Healing (Confession/Penance and Anointing of the Sick)
    • the Sacraments at the Service of Communion and Mission (Matrimony and Holy Orders)

III. Matrimony – as it was “in the beginning” and the blessing of Jesus at Cana

  • Marriage is the primordial sacrament – "All the sacraments of the new covenant find in a certain sense their prototype in marriage" – Pope John Paul II
    • the entirety of Salvation History can be seen as a kind of spousal relationship between God and mankind
  • at the Creation, God said that it is not good for Man to be alone
  • Man, male and female, is not merely a social creature, but a spousal creature made in the image of the Triune God, who is a loving communion of persons in one being
  • God made us to love and be loved and, in creating man and woman for each other, He gave us the ability to share in His creative power, telling us to be fruitful and multiply
  • in Matrimony, a man and woman are two made one in a communion of persons by Christ through the power of the Spirit of Love, and spouses should love each other as Christ loves the Church
  • the Sacrament is conferred upon the giving of matrimonial consent, that is, when a man and a woman manifest the will to give themselves to each other irrevocably in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love
  • such matrimonial consent is sealed by God, and the Sacrament establishes a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses
  • this communion of persons in marriage is not only unitive, such that it is indissoluble, but fruitful and procreative, just as the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church, is unitive, fruitful, and procreative
  • a special grace is conferred to give the husband and wife the ability to maintain their union in accord with the original divine plan, even in the face of threats to the unity and fruitfulness of marriage
  • the ministers of Matrimony are the man and woman to be married, with the priest receiving that consent in the name of the Church and giving her blessing to the union

IV. Holy Orders – the Sacrament of Apostolic Ministry
  • those who do not marry are still, by human nature, called to love in communion, thus, if we are not called to marry, we may be called to follow Christ, who is the fullness of Love
  • Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time
  • by Holy Orders, instituted by Jesus calling His apostles, the Church is passed on to the generations throughout time
  • some men may be called to follow Jesus in the ministerial priesthood, in which the one priesthood of Jesus Christ is made present, while other men and some women may be called to the religious or consecrated life (however, such religious or consecrated life, although holy, is not a sacrament)
  • the Sacrament is conferred by the laying on of hands, anointing with chrism oil, and the consecratory prayer proper to each grade of the Sacrament: deacon, priest, or bishop
  • anointing by the Spirit in ordination to the priesthood seals a baptized and confirmed man with an indelible, spiritual character that configures him to Christ the Bridegroom of the Church and Christ the High Priest, enabling him to act in His name (in persona Christi), especially in the Sacraments
  • being an alter Christus, just as Jesus is espoused to the His Bride the Church, so too is a priest “married” to the Church
  • episcopal ordination of a bishop as a successor of the Apostles confers the fullness of the Sacrament on him, including the offices of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling
  • the minister of Holy Orders is the bishop

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