Review of Sacraments
In your family reading time today or tonight, try to review the seven sacraments. As noted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1210 and 1212), Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: baptism, confirmation, penance, Holy Eucharist, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and important moments of Christian life: they give birth to new Christians, increase holiness of the family’s life in God, give healing, and give a sense of mission to the Christian’s life of faith. The sacraments of Christian initiation are: baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, because they lay the foundation of every Christian life. In the following week you can highlight each of the seven sacraments in your family time.
|W.P. Wittman photo
Sacrament of the Eucharist
Explain: Sections 1322-1419 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are about the Holy Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. "He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us (Sacrosanctum concilium, 47).
Act: Please take the time to read this beautiful section on the Blessed Sacrament. Talk about the celebrations and dates to remember, and look at photos from members of your family who have made their First Communion.
Thursday after Holy Trinity; sometimes celebrated on the Sunday following
This is the feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord. The anniversary of the Eucharist is, of course, on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper. However, since this falls in the most solemn of weeks — Holy Week — it cannot very well be celebrated as a feast. Therefore, the Church in her wisdom has assigned another day to celebrate this special feast. According to Maria von Trapp, in the "old country," the day was celebrated with a joyous procession in which the whole community participated. It was a true parade, led by an altar boy with a crucifix, followed by school children in their Sunday best, various church organizations carrying banners, religious in their respective habits, and priests in their feast day vestments. These were followed by the pastor carrying the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. He is carried most reverently, as a king should be, with small girls throwing flowers at His feet and altar boys ringing bells and soldiers marching along either side. The band and choir followed the King playing songs for the people to sing. At various points along the way, which was decorated with flowers, trees, and various finery, the pastor would have benediction. Altars had been prepared ahead of time for this and the raising of the monstrance would be marked by the salute of the soldiers’ guns and the cannons thundering from the outskirts.
To celebrate the Most Blessed Sacrament in your home today, you can announce the feast day in the morning and plan some fun activities. Go to a park for a hike and pick wildflowers as a decoration for the family altar and the dinner table. Plan a special meal. Have a special dinner and serve dessert. Use your white tablecloth and decorate the table with fresh-cut flowers. Attend Mass as a family and, if your parish doesn’t have a procession, look for one that may still do a procession for this feast.
April is the month of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is at the center of our Faith. Receiving the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthens us and makes us one with Christ. he Himself says in Scripture that if we do not eat His body and blood, we will "have no life within us." That life is Christ Himself, veiled in bread and wine. At the moment we receive Him, we are united with Him and become a literal tabernacle for the Lord! It is important to meditate on this reality, which is such a great mystery. This month, you might make a commitment to go to Mass a little more frequently or to spend some extra time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus waits for us in every tabernacle of every church, so go to Him. A great book that suggests ways to better focus at Mass is When Your Mind Wanders at Mass, by Thomas Howard (Franciscan University Press)
Excerpt from Catholic Parent Book of Feasts by Michaelann Martin, Carol Puccio, and Zoe Romanowsky, copyright © 1999 by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.