3 joyful kids playing in the snow

One of the beautiful things about Catholicism is the Sacraments. When we receive the Sacraments, we recognize through visible signs that a spiritual reality is being effected in us. Most of us know that the sacraments provide a unique kind of grace. Through baptism, we are cleansed spiritually. Through the Eucharist, we are fed spiritually. And through confirmation we are anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. But most people don’t realize that the Sacraments also connect our physical bodies on Earth spiritually to Christ’s resurrected body in Heaven. Every single sacrament is designed to facilitate this connection of our body with His spiritualized Body.

Baptism creates this spiritual connection with Christ’s body. A spiritual bond is made. When Saint Paul was blinded by Christ’s divine light, Paul asked the source of the light who He was. Jesus responded: “I am Jesus Christ, whom you are persecuting.” Jesus was telling Paul that what Paul was doing to the early Christian’s bodies, he was doing to Christ. This was because of their Baptismal connection with the resurrected Christ.

Confirmation then further strengthens this bond with Christ. The sacrament causes grace to flow through us more readily. It gives us the graces to stay faithful and bring Christ’s word to others. By receiving this oil on our foreheads, our minds are more closely connected to the mind of Christ giving us the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Most of these are gifts of the mind, represented by the oil on forehead. But Christ knew that sometimes we would break this connection with Him. And so, He gave us confession to heal (venial sins) or restore (moral sins) this connection. We rejected the authority of Christ by sinning. So, we meet with someone who is a bodily image of Christ’s authority on Earth. The priest blesses us with his hands outstretched over us. Acting in persona Christi, the priest connects us to Christ’s merciful light pouring forth from his wounds in heaven.

And when we are at death’s door, the Church gives us a sacrament to strengthen our connection with Christ as we prepare to pass beyond the Veil and be connected to Him for eternity. As the priest anoints our body, our whole person is connected to Christ’s body which is the source of life. Being connected to the source of life leads us to either our eternal life or our physical healing.

Marriage creates a new connection between a couple with Christ. The husband and wife become a living image of the marriage of Christ and his Church. And when they love one another, that couple participates in the inner life of Christ’s love for His Church and the Church’s reception of Jesus’s gift. Christ’s love for His Church flows out from His Body to His Bride who receives His gift. This very reciprocal love becomes the couple’s love. Priests, by receiving the anointing of Holy Orders, become a real image of Christ to the world. While all Christ’s people image Christ to the world, a priest acts “in persona Christi,” when he administers the sacraments. When we see the priest’s body administering a sacrament, we see Christ’s body through him.

And finally, the Eucharist strengthens even more deeply our connection with Christ. By receiving Christ’s very Body into our body, His Divine Life is infused into our entire being. No two human people can be so equally close, as we are with Christ when we receive Him into us.

He not only dwells within us, but his Divine Life is infused throughout our body in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s difficult to always remember the truth of these spiritual realities. Through each of these sacraments, our bodies are connected to Christ’s body. He truly is the vine, and we are the branches. I pray each of us might remember the truth of this reality when we live our sacramental life.

 

Loving our neighbors can be difficult. But Jesus loves them. Whether our neighbors are shockingly ‘too liberal’ or uncomfortably ‘too conservative,’ Jesus loves them. God created their bodies, and He stamped into their being the mark of the Eternal Trinity. Jesus sees past the mess which is their hearts and He sees the goodness of who they are.

Gabriel Milano has his Master’s degree in Theology in Marriage and Family at the John Paul II Institute and is a content creator and speaker for TOBET. He also writes fantasy novels for children and young adults, under the pen name G. M. Dantes.

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