What is a Sacrament? A Sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace. – The Baltimore Catechism.
“The Sacraments are not legalistic magical rituals they are powerful ancient mystical covenants… They do not make holiness easy, they only make it possible.” – Dr. Scott Hahn
One of the wonderful things about the Catholic Church is how through the guidance of the Holy Spirit it has continued for two thousand years. From its earliest beginnings of the apostles who recognized the need to set up an organization complete with bishops (a), priests (b) and deacons (c), and began the process to form Christ’s church on earth. The holy traditions (d) handed down from the apostles stood firm for 1500 years.
“Now be solicitous for yourselves and for the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to pasture the Church of God, which He purchased with his own blood.” (Acts of the Apostles 20:28)
So, it is hard to imagine that Jesus Christ would send the Holy Spirit to form his church where all the members would be blind to the truth and most certainly go to hell because of their participation in the Sacraments, until a time when people like Luther would somehow see the truth of the Holy Spirit that no one else in the church would see for 1500 years thereby reducing the number of Sacraments from seven to two. And today people like David J Stewart, would have you believe in his webpage, “Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church Are of Satan,” that there should be no sacraments at all.
Thank God, David Stewart was born to tell us two thousand years later how wrong we are as Catholic Christians. We have somehow been miss-lead by the Holy Spirit along with all of our brothers and sisters who have lived and died for their faith in Jesus Christ. Never mind that we say, “Jesus is Lord.” Never mind that everything thing the church teaches is biblical. We are doomed. Damned by our flawed belief in Christ for 2,000 years while the Christ who died out of love for us stood by and let it happen. Happen until David Stewart could be born to set us all on the right path. All we need, he tells us is Christ’s righteousness. All of us church going people have had it wrong. Forget feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or housing the homeless. Forget everything except the righteousness of Christ although his website is devastatingly void of how someone should go about to seek the righteousness of Christ.
The Bible very clearly says that Catholics are worshipping the Lord IN VAIN!!! He tells us from his website. But he never sites the chapter and verse where it actually says this. I think it takes a hell of a lot of arrogance to wake up one day and think the Holy Spirit has revealed something to you that He could not get across to billions of people for 2,000 years. Every split from the mother church has seemingly caused the gospel to be watered down as if making the path to righteousness should be easy (e).
“Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23) (Similar verse in Matthew 16:24)
I have had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by Dr. Scott Hahn (f) on the Sacraments. He made a wonderful compelling case for sacraments to be ancient covenants. He said that God did not just want a personal relationship with him, He wanted a deeper relationship much more like a divine covenant and Dr. Hahn compared it to the difference between a friendship and a marriage. We have many personal relationships with friends but one special covenant relationship in marriage. For all the Christians who claim to have a personal relationship with Christ, that is good thing, but it is only just a good beginning.
It is little wonder then, the words Christ would use at the last supper over the bread and wine were the words used in the Jewish marriage ceremony. “This is my body, this is my blood” so that two would become one flesh. Christ truly wants to be one with us in a way unlike merely a personal relationship.
One such argument I have heard against the Catholic Church from many non-denominational Christians, is that Catholics believe that simply participation in the sacraments will save them. Then quoting Paul, non-Catholic suggest that these ‘works’ are just what will not save a person. I would also be offended at the possibility of a Catholic who would only use the sacraments to try to make themselves look holy when they have no intention of being part of Christ’s mystical body. However, I do think they are rather confused. The primary ‘works’ that Paul preaches against are the Jewish traditions and most notably the act of circumcision. Yet, non-Catholic Christians have at least two sacraments, Baptism and the Anointing of the Sick and even though they do not call these ‘sacraments’, I dare say that they do indeed follow the Catholic definition of a sacrament as they are an outward sign, given to us by Christ, to give grace. By any other name, it is still a sacrament.
So if God wants a covenant relationship with us, He would certainly use a number of signs and symbols in each act while we participate by taking oaths. Water in baptism and the promise to raise our children in faith and reject the lies of Satan, bread and wine in communion (g) part of one body, anointing of oil in the covenant of priesthood, confirmation (h) and prayers over the sick and dying. And yes, we have seven which appears to be a most common holy number in the bible (i) but all are part of the traditions handed down to us by the apostles through knowledge of sacred scripture and revelation of the Holy Spirit. “The oaths,” Dr. Hahn tells us, “[we take in the sacraments (j)] are the means of transforming our personal relationships with Christ into a covenant relationship.”
Betty Brennan, in her testimony of going from a Satanist to a Roman Catholic (k), explains that even Satanist know and fear the power of the Sacraments. They copy the Sacraments in their own rituals for their own purposes. What we as even good Christians cannot discern, even witches can tell the difference between a consecrated host and a non-consecrated host even if the one consecrated host is mixed in with 200 unconsecrated hosts.
I pray we never take for granted the wonderful gift of the sacraments and continue to participate in them as part of the mystical body of Christ.
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1)
a. “Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money.” (Timothy 3:2-3)
b. “Presbyters [priests] who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching.” (Timothy 5:17)
c. “Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (Timothy 3:8-9)
d. “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
e. “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
f. Dr. Scott Hahn, “So Help me God. The Promise and Power of the Sacraments.” Lighthouse Talks, Augustine Institute 2016.“Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19)
h. “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17)
i. 7 Days of Creation (Genesis Chapter 1) 7 churches (Revelation Chapter 1) 7 flaming torches (Revelation 4:5) 7 trumpets (Revelation Chapter 8) 7 last plagues (Revelation Chapter 15) 7 bowls (Revelation Chapter 16) 77 times 7 to forgive brother (Matthew 18:22) boy sneezes 7 times as Elisha raises him from the dead (2 Kings 4:35) 7 years of abundance and 7 years of famine (Genesis Chapter 41) 7 years of famine (2 Kings 8:2)
j. Sacrament. From the Latin sacramentum, a word which denoted the oath of loyalty sworn by soldiers to their earthly lord, the emperor. It was applied by Tertullian around 200 AD to the Christian mysteries, by which man adhered to God. It thus acquired, as a technical term, the same implication as the Greek word mysterion, mystery, which is used to this day for the sacraments in Eastern Christianity.
k. Betty Brennan, “Former Satanist Becomes Catholic” Lighthouse Talks, Augustine Institute 2017.