It is through the sacraments and the exercise of the virtues that the sacred nature and organic structure of the priestly community is brought into operation. Incorporated in the Church through baptism, the faithful are destined by the baptismal character for the worship of the Christian religion; reborn as sons of God they must confess before men the faith which they have received from God through the Church (ST III, q.63, a.2). They are more perfectly bound to the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ (St. Cyril of Jerusalem). Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It.(Mediator Dei p 552.) Thus both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this most august sacrament. (Lumen Gentum 11).
Studying and learning the Catholic Faith is not enough. To learn the Catholic Faith without encountering Christ in the Sacraments becomes a form of modern gnosticism, that is, a hidden knowledge of salvation that only a few could understand . The Church condemned gnosticism at the very beginning stages of Christianity with the apostles, and still does today. Christ does not want to hide himself from us, but rather for us to encounter him the Sacraments, most especially the Eucharist.
In the sacraments we encounter Christ himself through various signs and symbols (CCC. 1151). We first encounter him through baptism, where we die to sin and rise again to new life (CCC. 1213). However baptism is not enough to live out our Catholic Faith, Confirmation is necessary (Acts 8:14-17). In Confirmation the graces we receive at baptism reach their full potential and we are strengthened to bring Christ into the world (CCC 1285). The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit strengthen us to live out our baptismal promises more fully.
The culmination of our Catholic Faith comes to us in the Eucharist, which is the “source and summit of the Christian life”. Here we encounter Jesus Christ, himself, in the Eucharist where we receive his Body and Blood (Jn 6:53-59; 1 Cor 11:17-26). Through these three sacraments of initiation we really do encounter Jesus himself in very real and transformative way.
The sacraments are not magic, nor some kind of superstition, but rather Christ’s way communicating himself to us in a loving manner, “so that we can be happy with him in this life and and in the next.” (Baltimore Catechism Q.3). How is this possible….go to “learn the faith” or contact us.
Fidel Cuellar-Torres Director of Music and Liturgy 303-772-6422 email@example.com