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The Sacraments

The spir­i­tu­al life of the Church is giv­en to men in the sacra­ments. The sacra­ments are called the holy mys­ter­ies, and the entire life of the Church is con­sid­ered to be mys­ti­cal and sacramental.

The new life in Christ, the gen­uine life of God, is giv­en to man in bap­tism, the new birth and new cre­ation of man in Christ by the Spir­it of God. In bap­tism the per­son who rejects Satan and all of his evil works and accepts Christ and the gift of eter­nal life, dies and ris­es again with Jesus to “new­ness of life.”

Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into His death? We were buried there­fore with Him by bap­tism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glo­ry of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life. […] So you also must con­sid­er your­selves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:3–11; Cf. also Col 2–3, Gal 3).

The new life in Christ Jesus giv­en in baptism—a per­pet­u­al­ly dying and ris­ing dai­ly with Jesus—is made pos­si­ble in man by “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spir­it” in the mys­tery of chris­ma­tion (Cf. 2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13). Chris­ma­tion fol­lows bap­tism, and is essen­tial­ly con­nect­ed to it, as the Holy Spir­it comes with Christ, Pen­te­cost comes with East­er, and life comes with birth. There is no new life in the new human­i­ty of divine child­hood in Jesus with­out the life-cre­at­ing Spir­it of God. It is the Holy Spir­it in chris­ma­tion who makes pos­si­ble and pow­er­ful the spir­i­tu­al life into which men are born in Chris­t­ian baptism.

The new life in Christ and the Holy Spir­it in the Church is nour­ished and sus­tained in the mys­tery of the eucharist—Holy Com­mu­nion. The “mys­ti­cal sup­per of the Son of God” is the cen­ter of the spir­i­tu­al life. For Chris­tians there is no life at all with­out it:

I am the bread of life… if any one eats of this bread, he will live for­ev­er; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. Tru­ly, tru­ly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eter­nal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As the liv­ing Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me… he who eats this bread will live for­ev­er (Jn 6:32ff).

When a per­son falls away from the life of God in the Church, he or she may be reunit­ed to Christ by the mys­tery of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion through pen­i­ten­tial con­fes­sion. The abun­dant mer­cy of God abides in the Church by the pres­ence of Christ, and the Lord who “desires not the death of a sin­ner” but that he might “turn from his wicked­ness and live” (Ez 18:32, 33:14) will for­give those who come to Him in repen­tance (Cf. Jn 6:37). Con­tin­u­al repen­tance for sin is a cen­tral ele­ment in the spir­i­tu­al life of men who choose life in God, but con­tin­ue, inevitably, to sin.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive our­selves and the truth is not in us. If we con­fess our sins, Christ is faith­ful and just, and will for­give our sins and cleanse us from all unright­eous­ness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us (1 Jn 1:8).

In this life still bound by the sin of the world, man inevitably suf­fers and dies. His out­ward nature is wast­ing away while his new nature in Christ is being per­fect­ed. The mys­tery of the anoint­ing of man’s suf­fer­ing soul and body is the sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of man’s “per­ish­able nature” that his “mor­tal nature” might “put on immor­tal­i­ty” (l Cor 15:51ff). Through holy unc­tion a per­son is giv­en the grace of the Spir­it to make his suf­fer­ing and death an act of vic­to­ry and life.

If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suf­fer, we shall also reign with Him… (2 Tim 2:11; Cf. Jas 4:13ff).

In this life as well, God has cre­at­ed human beings in His divine image and like­ness as male and female. The union in love between one man and one woman for­ev­er is the cre­at­ed expres­sion of the per­fect love of God for His crea­tures. The mys­tery of mar­riage is the human image of the “great mys­tery” of “Christ and the Church” (Eph 6:21–33). In the sacra­ment of mar­riage, human love is made eter­nal and divine by the grace of Christ’s Spir­it. There is no part­ing in death, but ful­fill­ment in the King­dom of God.

All of the sacra­men­tal mys­ter­ies of the Church are effect­ed in the Church through the sacra­ment of the ordained priest­hood. The bish­ops and priests are the min­is­ters with­in the com­mu­ni­ty who guar­an­tee the real­i­ty of the mys­ti­cal life of the Church in all times and places. Through the ordained min­is­ters with­in the com­mu­nion of the Church, Christ Him­self is present and pow­er­ful in the full­ness of His sav­ing activity.