July 21, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Last week in our ruminations we looked at the general notion of Grace. God gives us Grace for what we need to do in this life.

When it comes to actual Salvation, we cannot save ourselves. No matter what we do here on earth, we cannot achieve Salvation by ourselves. It is for this reason Jesus died for us – to set us free. God, Himself, helps us by stepping in and giving us a special Gift of Grace. We call this special Grace a “Sacrament.” An official definition of Grace is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give Grace.” Basically, what that statement means is that using the language of the Church (remember when we talked about that?), God alters (so to speak) our reality; He does what we cannot do. If we are in need of Salvation, He gives it (Baptism). If we are in need of Spiritual Nourishment, He gives it (Holy Communion). If we are in need of Spiritual Forgiveness, He gives it (Reconciliation). We cannot do these things on our own. We cannot Save ourselves; we cannot create Spiritual food; we cannot rid ourselves of Sin. God has to step in.

In our example last week, I used one of my teachers from Ringgold as an example. Let’s use that example again. When I was having trouble with my various word problems, the teacher would ask me if I used what we were talking about on that particular day. I said yes, but I couldn’t get the problem. She asked me if I used what we did the day before; I said yes, but I couldn’t get the problem. How about the learning from last week? Yes, but I couldn’t get the problem.

At this juncture she would take my paper and do the problem for me.  DING! Lightbulb shining over my head. I understood what she did, although I couldn’t do it on my own. Who did the work? She did. Who benefitted from the work? I did.

That is what Sacraments basically do. Through the act of a loving God, we receive Salvation. While God has to step in and do the work for us, we benefit from those actions. With any area that deals with Salvation and Eternal Life, God has to do the work; we are not capable.

Something to think about. When we receive any Sacraments, how do you see them? Do you see them as “Holy Magic?” Or do you see them as a personal Encounter with Christ? Holy Magic is basically “saying the words and making the gestures, and, voilà, you are saved.” That makes it so the priest is doing the work. It doesn’t work like that. God gives Himself so that we can be one with Him.

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