Everything to do with sacraments has mercy at the core of it. Let’s take a look at the Catholic definition: “Sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the church, through which divine life is given.” They are signs from God that are a blessing to the Church and to us!
I love baptism! It is the initiation to all the sacraments because it is the entry into the Church. This sacrament is mercy at its core in every aspect of the rite. We are all separated from God until we receive His mercy at baptism.
The mercy of God begins at the name of the baptized. The name given at the beginning of the rite is their heavenly name which is written in the “book of life.” Names are critical as we see Abram becoming Abraham and Saul becoming Paul. How merciful that we have a special name for eternity, anointed by God!
Think of the priest or deacon pouring water over the person being baptized and saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” How incredibly merciful it is to wipe clean the original sin that all of us have as a stain on our soul.
One additional aspect of the rite of baptism that shows God’s mercy is the anointing of the oil of Sacred Chrism to be “Priest, Prophet and King.” The baptized person now has special grace to have the power of the Holy Spirit to utilize the compassion of a priest to love and minister to people, to preach the “good news” as a prophet and participate in the kingdom of God! Tremendous mercy!
I’m sure most or all of us love confirmation! Why? In most cases those being confirmed are teens who want to become warriors for Christ! Think about it. What a tremendous gift of mercy God granting the grace of being “sealed by the Holy Spirit!” We are given special graces to battle temptation and evil!
I love the sacrament of Reconciliation! What grace! What mercy! We enter the sacrament stained with sin and come out “white as snow!” No matter how long it has been, how many sins we have committed, Jesus, through the priest, is waiting like the prodigal son with an open heart. There is no sin that God’s mercy will not forgive! As the saying goes, “our sins are but a drop of water in comparison to an ocean of mercy!”
The core of our faith is the Eucharist. The Mass gives us the opportunity to participate in the heavenly banquet in which the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! Eucharist means thanksgiving. How merciful Jesus is by giving us his very Body and Blood to sustain and heal us. It is protection from evil by giving us special graces.
I have been involved in healing ministry for over 40 years and have seen God’s mercy nonstop in every type of healing. The greatest opportunity of mercy and healing is associated with the Mass. One example was a male friend who after receiving the Eucharist came up to me at the end of Mass and said, “I am in real trouble! I have seen an oncologist and I have lung cancer. I have been given a one in 500 chance of living.” I knew that God’s mercy is connected to the Eucharist. I also knew that the man had a great love of the Blessed Mother who is the “Mother of Mercy.” We went to a statue in the courtyard of Our Lady of Fatima and prayed for God’s mercy. Suddenly the man said that he had extreme heat flowing through his body. A week later he went to his oncologist who said there was no trace of cancer! The physician took tissue samples and sent them to the Mayo Clinic, who said there was no cancer at the cellular level. He has been cancer free for over seven years! Praise God!
After Communion at my parish, the parish secretary came up to me and said that there was a young women in her mid-30s who had stage-four cancer. She had two small children and her doctor gave her no chance of survival. We went to pray in front of a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I asked for God’s mercy and prayed over her. We all cried and left. A week later her physician found no trace of cancer! I praise the God of mercy!
How blessed are we who are married! I have been very blessed to have been married to my wife Mary Anne for over 50 years! I cannot begin to describe the love and mercy of Christ that had been manifested through my wife and marriage. Marriage is the opportunity to show mercy to one another through the love of Jesus. There are countless times that we have shown mercy to one another. I praise God for the sacrament of marriage and the mercy my wife has shown me through the love of Christ.
Holy Orders is a blessing beyond belief! I have been a permanent deacon for 15 years. How merciful is God who took a sinner and a man who is weak and allowed him the grace of Holy Orders. What mercy! What love! God’s grace has been beyond anything I can articulate. Next to my marriage and family, it has been the greatest blessing of my life.
The final sacrament is the Anointing of the Sick. We who are sick receive the mercy and love of Jesus through this sacrament. Through the administration of the priest, we also receive the mercy and gift of reconciliation.
Those who come sick and broken receive grace and healing through this sacrament of mercy.
God’s mercy, indeed, is an ocean of love that strengthens, sustains and propels us to great miracles in our walk of faith!