Special Issue Examines Catholics as a Sacramental People
CINCINNATI—The joys and challenges of Marriage; the trepidation or elation Catholics experience with Confession; the blessings of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation; the peace and comfort of Anointing of the Sick; and the past, present and future of Holy Orders: These sacraments provide sustenance and grace along our faith journeys. Yet there is still a good deal of mystery and discovery with each of them.
St. Anthony Messenger provides a new look at the seven sacraments with its April special issue entitled, “A Sacramental People.” Staff members tackle Reconciliation, Eucharist, Marriage and Anointing, while two priests weigh in on the Sacraments of Initiation and Holy Orders. Woven throughout three of the articles are reflections from readers submitted through e-mail and regular mail. Each article also has a short section on how Vatican II influenced that sacrament’s celebration. After March 23rd, each article will be posted at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
The special issue begins with an introduction by Editor Father Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., which provides both the historical changes and modern relevance of sacraments. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., who teaches at St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana, writes of Baptism and Confirmation in “Immersed in God’s Love: Our Sacraments of Initiation.” Assistant Editor John Feister interviews Catholic actor Clarence Gilyard (Walker, Texas Ranger) about his devotion to the Eucharist.
Assistant Editor Christopher Heffron tackles Confession in “To Err Is Human: The Truth About Reconciliation,” which features an interview with Bishop Robert Morneau, auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Assistant Editor Susan Hines-Brigger combines personal reflections and reader feedback in “What Have You Done for Your Marriage Today?” while Father Richard Vega, president of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils, writes about Holy Orders in his article, “Priesthood: Past, Present and Future.” Managing Editor Barbara Beckwith contributes “Anointing of the Sick: A Changed Sacrament With Many Graces,” along with the editorial which raises the question, “An Eighth Sacrament?”
“Sacraments matter!” Father Pat McCloskey asserts in the introduction. “They help us meet the incarnate Jesus, who comes to us through cleansing water and invigorating oil to welcome us, life-giving bread and wine that become Christ’s body and blood, a hand outstretched in forgiveness, vows lovingly exchanged in marriage, a hand designating someone for ordained service and oil to strengthen the sick and comfort the dying.”
Sacraments can give peace: “As I recovered this past summer, I again recognized how helpful and meaningful both the Anointing and the frequent opportunity to receive the Eucharist were,” Claudette from Alabama writes.
They can inspire vigor. Angela from New York observes: “What have we done for our marriage today? Well, I would answer that with: What has our marriage done for us today and the last 25 years? The answer is easy: Everything!”
Yet some Catholics see certain sacraments as insignificant: A reader from Williamson, Georgia, when discussing Reconciliation, doesn’t understand why she must go to Confession “when God already knows my sins and my heart. Telling a priest would not have changed a thing.”
Though reactions can be divisive, Father McCloskey feels that the sacraments, ultimately, unify us. “Through the sacraments, we recognize other Christians as brothers and sisters, called to share and to live the Good News of Jesus Christ and share it with others.”
Permission is granted to reprint this release.