The Sacraments

These are seven great channels of the Grace of God called Sacraments:
[Isaiah 11:15]

Sacraments of initiation: 1 Baptism, 2 Confirmation, and 3 the Eucharist
Sacraments of healing: 4 Penance and 5 the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
Sacraments at the service of Communion: 6 Holy Orders and 7 Matrimony

The Sacraments are encounters with God through the Church. In baptism we obtain sanctifying Grace, in confirmation we receive the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Eucharist we receive the Blood of Jesus, which saves us.

The Sacrament of Penance is called a sacrament of healing because our souls are wounded by sins and they need to be restored. We should come to confession at least once a month in order to be reconciled with God and not to lose our sense of sin.

Mortal sin of course needs to be confessed as soon as possible. St. Therese of Avila  used to have daily confessions because she really understood how sinful we are, that a just man sins seven times a day. It is only when we come to the Lord with a humble and contrite heart that we can experience His Presence in a mystical way.

For the purpose of becoming holy, we can encounter God in all the sacraments. If our vocation is for the Lord, then the Priesthood or Holy orders is the greatest honour that a man can have, to become a servant of Our Lord with the anointing given by the Church to administer the sacraments to others.

The vocation to be married is also very sanctifying since we are called to have children for the Glory of God. In this sacrament the couple administers the sacrament to one another.

The anointing of the sick is administered by a priest, but we are also called to pray for one another specially when someone is sick. The Lord responds miraculously to the prayers of healing done for others, because this is answering his command "be merciful as I am merciful" [Luke 6:36].

Prayer and Devotions

The Lord says that we have to be good soil for his seed which is the Word of God. [Matthew 13]

The Word of God like any seed needs good soil, otherwise it will not thrive. The soil or our faith has to be fertilised and watered by prayers and devotions.

Every time we pray we are acknowledging that God is God and that we need Him. Our prayers become our relationship with the Lord. The more we pray, the more we come to know the Lord and the more we know Him the more we love Him because God is Love and Love gives itself away to those that come to Him.

Different kinds of Prayer:

Praise and Worship, repentance, thanksgiving, petitions and intercessions

Praise and Worship.

We must start the day with prayers of praise and worship to the God who has created us out of nothing, we must come before Him with humility and repentance for the guilt of our sins [Psalm 32:5].

We must worship the God of Life who reminds us of His Love in every beat of our hearts, in every breath that we take, in every thought that runs through our minds and in every instant of time.

We exist because God exists, " I am who I am" says the Lord, in other words I am existence, I am the causeless cause, I am [Exodus 3:14].

We claim the name of God every time we say I am, because we are saying I exist, therefore we should really say I am (by the Grace of God); I will do.. whatever (God willing), because whatever we say or do in our existence we are doing in God, since nothing is separated from Him [John 15:5], and because everything draws life from Him.

Repentance

We must confess daily our sinfulness and we must acclaim the holiness of God by contrast [Psalm 38:18]. We are sinners by nature, God is divine and holy by His own Grace.

How can we come to Him feeling that we are good, when it is by our own sins that we have crucified His Son? [Genesis 6:12] With Adam and Eve we feel the guilt of our sinfulness and the eyes of God pierce through the nakedness of our souls accusing us of our impurities and imperfections, therefore we need to humble ourselves before the Majesty of God in order to receive His blessing .

We are unworthy to be in His Presence [Matthew 10:38], we have an eternal debt that we can not pay, except with our Love for Christ. In baptism we are clothed with Christ and by His Grace we are dressed with the robes of Salvation, however as we all have sinned, we have desecrated that Holy Presence of God in us, so we must repent. We must turn away from evil and darkness, from sin and death and we must choose Goodness and Light, Grace and Life.

The Lord says unless you repent you will all perish [Luke 13:5]. Most of us come to confession to confess the same sins that we repeatedly confess every time. Have we really repented? Are we justifying our sins and playing games with our Salvation? Are we not supposed to come shedding tears like Mary Magdalene for our sins? The reason for our behaviour is that we confess our sins without sufficient remorse, without feeling any guilt, without pain of having crucified our Lord.

We must confess not only our sins, but also our guilt, yes, because our sins have crucified the Lord. [Zechariah 12:10]

We cannot become saints until we eradicate sinfulness from our lives. Whoever is born of God, commits no sin: for his seed abides in him, and he can not sin, because he is born of God. [1 John 3:9]

To be a saint means to become a son of God, we must strive for the purity of the holy angels, everything we do must be done in the Presence of God. We live before Him in the nakedness of our souls but our guilt is removed because the tears of our repentance demand His Mercy.

The saint is prepared to rather die than sin. To live to sin is a curse for Him, therefore He suffers in the flesh until He can be called to be in God forever [1 Peter 2:24].

Thanksgiving

The Lord healed ten lepers but only one came back to thank Him, He said did I not heal ten, where are the other nine? [Luke 17:17-18]

We must thank God for all the benefits He has bestowed upon us. The greatest gift is His Mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, since He paid for the debt of our sins with His own sufferings, humiliation and death. We must thank Him daily not only for the gift of our temporal life, but for eternal life which is really something we almost take for granted.

We are accustomed to receive favours and then to thank for them. Since we have not seen Jesus hanging on the cross for our eternal life, then this is a matter of faith and it is difficult for many to thank God.

This is the reason why we celebrate the Holy Mass as a proclamation of His death and as an announcement of His Resurrection, we proclaim the Victory of Christ over the devil who is the author of death because he tempted man to sin. Christ's victory over death is our own resurrection and eternal life and we must pray daily in thanksgiving for such a great gift.

The saint truly understands the words of the "Our Father" Give us this day our daily bread, because your bread Oh Lord is the bread of Salvation, the bread that came down from Heaven, the bread of life. When we want to thank God for the gift of Salvation, there is no other way to thank Him than the Holy Eucharist. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek "eucharisto" meaning thanksgiving.

Does not the Holy Spirit tell you dear reader that you should thank the Lord daily by receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist? This is truly worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth.
This is really listening to God.[Hebrews 4:7]

Petitions

And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
For every one that asks, receives; and he that seeks, finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.  [Luke 11:9-10]

We of course come to pray as if prayer means only to ask, we become very inclined to pray when things go wrong and when something is lacking. But is that what the Lord wants us to pray for?

[Luke 11:11-13] And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion?
13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

In our blindness we are asking temporal things of no permanent value, but in His Goodness, God is offering the Holy Spirit. Should we start changing our attitude regarding the things that we pray for? Perhaps if we pray for the Holy Spirit then we can pray for understanding of the Will of God, for Wisdom and for Love to reign in our hearts, this way we will have the mind of God and our prayers will be done in His Will and the Lord will answer us. We will pray for strength to carry the cross, for patience, for fortitude, for the relief of the sufferings of others and for the coming of His Kingdom.

Those who have become saints, have made their petitions mainly for others since they accept the Will of God in their lives and when they have a problem or some need they simply bring it before the Lord who always knows our needs and who desires what is best for us. The saint awaits with patience the result of his prayers, He thanks in advance the Lord for His goodness. Whatever God's answer, it is always right for Him. Not my will but your Will be done.[Luke 22:42]

Intercessions

Christ has interceded for us. He has prayed, He has sacrificed Himself for us:

Father forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing. [Luke 23:34] Father forgive them because they sin and they don't understand that sin is the cause of my pain and death.

Father, sanctify them in the truth [John 17:17] The Lord was saying, Father I want them to be saints.

By His grace He could touch and heal, and through Him we can still do the same He did.
[John 14:12] Amen, amen I say to you, he that believes in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.

If you believe in the Power of the Word of God, you will believe these words, therefore you are receiving a guarantee from Jesus that you can do the same things He did.

[Mark 16:20]  After the Ascension of Our Lord, The apostles went to preach the good news every where: the Lord was present in spirit working with them, and confirming the word with signs that followed. This passage is the guarantee that if we preach the word of God with conviction, He will be with us and manifest signs.

If we have to pray over someone, we must preach the good news first, the charism of healing is given not just to heal the body but the soul as well, the Word of God purifies and heals not only the outside but the inside as well. We are also encouraged to pray for those that we don't see with us who are in need of intercession.

Our Lady is the most powerful intercessor that we have before the Lord.

When we pray we should ask our petitions by the merits of the Holy Passion of Our Lord, his sufferings, agony and death; we should pray for deliverance of evil spirits by the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus.

We can ask the intercession of Our Lady and pray by the merits of the sorrows of Her Immaculate Heart and by the merits of her holy tears.

Spiritual reading

Faith is transmitted by word, and the word of faith comes from the Word of God. [Romans 10:14]
We have a cloud of witnesses [Hebrews 12:1] men and women like you and me, who have tread the path set before them by the Lord. We are very fortunate as Catholics of possessing such vast heritage of our faith. We have the words of Our Lord, the writings of the Apostles in the Holy Scriptures, we have the works of the early Fathers of the Church and the writings of many saints.

There is a saying: you are what you eat; as you read, you also become what you read. If you read about the experiences of the saints, you are bound to change your lifestyle and somehow you will learn something from them. They have been given unique gifts of virtue and they are like beautiful flowers in the garden of the Kingdom of God. They display so many colours and variety in order to attract different kinds of people. One saint may be very appealing to you while another might be boring. It doesn't really matter which way of spirituality attracts you the most, eventually the Holy Spirit will be your own teacher. But you will profit by the knowledge of those who have received the Wisdom of God.

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