I am totally convinced we need, as Catholics, to understand the power, importance and critical nature of living a sacramental life.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that the sacraments are “An efficacious sign of grace instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.” (774, 1131). The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament.
Though not every individual receives every sacrament, the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary as the mode of grace divinely instituted by Christ Himself. The Catholic Church is the sole dispenser of Christ’s sacraments and is considered to be the universal “sacrament of salvation.”
In the Catechism, we learn the Church is centered on the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. The Roman Catholic Church administers seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony.
During the time of my formation as a deacon, my spiritual director, a Norbertine priest, focused on the critical nature of the sacraments. He asked me often how serious I was about my faith. Did I truly want to grow in holiness?
We often come up with countless reasons why we don’t have time for daily Mass. It is a hassle, we need our sleep, our work schedule and on and on. The primary question I have for each of you reading this book is: “Who wants you to go to daily Mass and who doesn’t?” The Lord wants to give us “our daily bread,” to bless us abundantly with grace, strength and blessings. Who doesn’t want us to go to daily Mass? You know the answer. The enemy would do anything to convince us not to go to Mass and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Month after month, my spiritual director challenged my faith intention. I came up with excuses to justify my laziness. The reality is that receiving the Eucharist daily was not a priority. However, what often occurs happened to me. God brings us to our knees. Something happens in life, and frequent Mass attendance was no longer optional for me. I needed God. I needed grace. I needed supernatural strength and wisdom, and I needed it now!
At the time, I was a senior director of sales in the State of California for a pharmaceutical company. We had a product for high cholesterol, called an HMG, which had severe competition from other companies. California was and is an extremely significant state in which Managed Care Companies dictate what products are prescribed.
One week, I received phone calls and letters from nearly every major Managed Care Company revealing my company’s product was to be removed from their formulary. My sales management team went crazy, wailing and gnashing their teeth. They asked me if they should update their resumes. They were panicking and giving up.
When we face adversity, whether it be personal, health, relationships or financial, God gives us a way out. However, God wants us to change our behavior, trust Him and turn over our lives to Him.
There was no way out of my business situation through my innate wisdom. However, I knew God had allowed this to happen, and He had a solution if I got close to Him.
What was the solution? Daily Mass. No matter what. My busy schedule? It didn’t matter. Getting close to Jesus is and will always be the solution.
I began attending daily Mass and realized it was impossible to be serious about holiness without it.
What happened with the business? Miracle after miracle. God gave me an idea that led to the doubling of my business, getting promoted and becoming a hero to senior management. I am totally convinced these blessings would never have happened without daily Mass. Nothing I do will change its importance.
Another sacrament critical to our spiritual growth and overcoming trials and adversity is Reconciliation. I find it tragic that people do not understand how essential Reconciliation is.
Most of us feel we don’t need to receive this sacrament. We haven’t done anything that bad, we are embarrassed, don’t want to take the time to receive the sacrament or countless other reasons.
The truth is so different. How often do we sin? When we do any daily examination of conscience, however brief, we realize we sin throughout the day. These sins are a turning away from God in thoughts, words or actions. However, they also include sins of omission. When do we simply ignore the Lord when He wants us to minister to someone or do what He is whispering for us to do? Do we desire to be in the will of the Lord? Do we truly seek Him with all our heart, soul, might and strength?
Reconciliation gives us the grace to overcome trials that come from the enemy, the wisdom to turn to God in prayer and the strength to avoid sin.
At times, I will receive Reconciliation more than once a week. In fact, sometimes I go daily. For most people, that seems radical. For me, if I am laboring under a severe trial, I am not trusting God as I need. Reconciliation gives me the strength to do the many things God is calling me to do.
For some reading this book, God may be calling you to Holy Orders. In the Catholic Church, it is a sacrament by which a man is made a bishop, priest or deacon and is dedicated to be an image of Christ.
I never expected to receive this sacrament and to become a deacon. God had a different plan. How do you know if God is calling you?
Turn to God. Ask and expect His answer to open or close the door only He can open or close. Some of you are now receiving a nudge from the Lord. Say “Yes” to it! Investigate religious life whether you are a man or woman. You won’t regret it!