There are seven sacraments in the Catholic Faith, but keeping them straight and understanding them can be quite the problem. Luckily, Mother Angelica was way ahead of the rest of us. In her writings, complied into Mother Angelica’s Quick Guide to the Sacraments, she gives reflections on each sacrament and then explains them even more fully, drawing us into their depth.
“His love drew me to himself by adopting me as his son. To make that sonship real and not imaginary he took up his dwelling in my soul. God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—lives in me. Why doesn’t this reality possess my mind and move my heart to love him more? Perhaps my difficulty lies in the enormity of this truth.”
“Sin is a weapon that wounds God, my neighbor, and myself. I cannot allow the realization that I cannot hurt God in his person, cloud the reality that whatever I do to my neighbor I do to him. His will has ordained that whatever evil or good I do—he is the recipient. . . . The Father has given me the opportunity of hearing words of merciful love and feeling the burden of sin lift from my soul. Jesus presents himself in the person of the priest to absolve me from my sins, heal my weaknesses, and restore my friendship with the Father. In reconciling myself with God, I am ready to love my neighbor with a deeper love and with unselfish motives.”
“He would lower himself to even greater depths of humility and obedience. He would continue to give me a living example of patience, love, and humility—he would be my solace in distress, my confidant in sorrow, my food for the journey, my grace to change, my joy in success, and my comfort in failure. He gives me an example of obedience, for he comes down in the form of bread at the command of his priests. He stays in the tabernacle day after day, month after month, year after year, just so I may go to him with my joys and sorrows. He humbles himself and becomes my food so his own Body and Blood may course through my veins and I may be able to grow into his image and please the Father.”
“Baptism gave me ten talents—Faith, Hope, Love, Fear of the Lord, Piety, Fortitude, Counsel, Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom. Throughout the years baptism gave me a new dignity, confession restored my friendship with God and neighbor, and communion nourished my soul, making it grow strong in the Lord. My life was a constant growing process of these three sacraments, and as I reached a kind of spiritual teenage, confirmation put upon my soul the finishing touch to everything I needed to bear fruit. . . . These ten talents must grow, increase, and multiply, and I should never forget I must render an account for them to the Lord of all, when his wisdom calls me home.”
“Every sacrament is an encounter with Jesus through the Holy Spirit—each one is a channel of grace– a visible sign of an invisible reality. I should look upon the Sacrament of Matrimony, not only as the union of two people into one, a union whose love cooperates with God int he continual creation of man, but as an image of the Trinity on earth. Every married couple and the children who proceed from that union should also remind me of the union of Christ with the Church, the union of Jesus with the soul, and the union of the members of the Mystical Body with Jesus, their head.”
“The question then is not how the priest affects my life, but how I affect his. . . . Perhaps if I treated him with loving respect, gentle understanding, grateful praise, and brotherly forbearance, his life would be less lonely, his apostolate more fruitful, and his spiritual life more at peace. We must help each other as we faithfully follow the mission God has given to each of us.”
Anointing of the Sick
“Jesus suffered from all the trials, pains, disappointments, and daily cares that are my portion. He realized from personal experience that death and its accompanying suffering would fill me with fears of the unknown. To take away these fears he told me of heaven and the specific place he would prepare for me. To comfort me he sends his priest to anoint my body to obtain it strength for the journey and absolve me from sin so my garments are pure white. He gives himself to me in Holy Communion in order to be my companion from this life to the next. He promises me that angels will be with me and His own Mother will intercede for me.”
The sacraments are so deep and wide that it takes much to understand them. But Mother Angelica, through use of her own talents, helps us to understand them just a little bit more. For more on the sacraments, pick up a copy of Mother Angelica’s Quick Guide to the Sacraments.