Celebrations of Grace: The Sacraments of the Catholic Church, Part 1
In the early 1960’s I was studying at Sacred Heart, the minor seminary for the Green Bay Diocese. My classmates and I felt we were living at a lucky moment in history. We loved the Church, were studying her teachings, and had made a start at devoting our lives to her. And this Church was changing. The Second Vatican Council was setting new directions for the familiar Church. Who could tell where this movement of the Holy Spirit would take her! I still feel privileged to have known both the pre-Vatican II Church and the renewed Church. Remembering that time of change, it is much harder to take the way things are now for granted.
Remembering or learning about that exciting time and before is of more than historical interest. It can help one understand what the liturgy has become and why it changed. There were a minority, at the time, who disapproved of the changes. Today another minority reject the new Liturgy without having the old to compare. These know neither the trauma nor the excitement of living through that change. They may see some issues, often under the headings of reverence, mystery, or beauty, and imagine that something essential is lost in the “Novus Ordo,” the new “order” of the Liturgy. In one way they’re right. The changes are far from superficial. They lie at the heart of what Liturgy is about, and that could be scary.
A journey of understanding
Remembering and comparing and discovering reasons behind the changes will be a large part of this and several more posts. You may be happy with the revised Liturgy or questioning whether the Liturgy has suffered or lost its way through the changes. Either way, you may find here things to agree with, to disagree with or to start you thinking along new lines. A perspective that includes remembering and juxtaposing old and new was a useful tool for my own understanding.That young seminarian of the 1960’s, on the cusp of old and new, was only beginning his journey of understanding the ways of God in Liturgy and world. Much of the way became clear, with lots of help, after leaving priesthood studies, getting married, getting involved in parish life. These posts owe a great deal to the faithful Catholics of St. Paul’s Church, St. Cloud, Minnesota. I try to give credit in the bibliography to other sources that have enriched my understanding of sacraments.
Here is a look, subject to change, at what lies ahead:
Table of Contents
Sacraments in General
- Remembering and Comparing: How Vatican II Changed the Liturgy (above)
- Jesus, the Master at Life and the One I Meet in the Sacraments
- Celebrations of Grace
- Liking the Sacraments
- Learning about Sacramental Signs
- Celebration and Sign
- Sacraments in a world of Grace
- Definitions and Misconceptions
Part 2: Thinking about Each Sacrament
- Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament
- Anointing of the Sick
- Holy Orders and the Priesthood of the People of God
- Church, a Sacrament
- A Personal Relationship with Jesus, the First Sacrament
Conclusion: Thinking about Going to Church
Image credit: St. Matthew Catholic Church, Tyrone, GA