Spring: A season of growth through sacraments

April 30, 2013

This spring season is one that is immersed and drenched in the riches and graces of the celebration of many sacraments. 
The season began with the sacred Triduum, culminating in the Easter Vigil, where our RCIA elect were baptized and our candidates were received into the Catholic faith. 

In this Archdiocese more than 2,000 new Catholics were initiated. 

Some of us may have stood as sponsors alongside one of them or some of these new Catholics may be members of our family. Some of us may have been part of the assembly that day witnessing the lighting and blessing of the new fire and the blessing of the new Paschal Candle by which the elect were led to the baptismal waters. 

During the Rite of Welcoming and Acceptance of those in RCIA we, the assembly, were asked if we would help the catechumens and candidates as they journey toward the Easter sacraments to which we responded, YES!

Many of us may have recently attended or will soon attend our son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter’s First Holy Communion Mass that is adorned with beautiful white dresses, suits and ties, and spring flowers. 

We, as assembly, witness as they approach the altar to receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time. We pray for them and their families that the reception of the Eucharist will deepen the seeds of faith planted by their catechists and families.

Others, during this Easter season, will witness or partake in the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation through which, in the holy anointing, is received the grace to be courageous witnesses of the faith. It perfects baptismal grace and deepens our identity as adopted sons and daughters of God. Within this Mass we renew our baptismal promises to remind us of the close tie of this sacrament to Baptism. Confirmation “unites us more firmly in Christ...” and “it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.” (CCC 1303)

Some will participate as a guest at a Wedding Mass wherein we witness and renew our own marriage covenant relationship. In witnessing this couple being united in marriage, we agree to help them grow in their Christian marriage promises.

These sacraments are all encounters with Jesus Christ. The spirit heals us and draws us closer to Christ and makes us partakers in the life of the Holy Trinity. We grow in holiness both personal and communal. “Jesus gave us the sacraments to call us to worship God, to build up the Church, to deepen our faith, to show us how to pray, to connect us with the Living Tradition of the Church and to sanctify us.” (USCCA, Chap. 14)

In witnessing these beautiful moments in our family’s lives, we commit to pray for and support those who are receiving these sacramental blessings. Baptism is the start of the journey to grow in faith and in our relationship with Christ. 

First Eucharist is the start of many more receptions of Eucharist to come each and every Sunday. It is our responsibility, as the Body of Christ, to encourage each other in the practice of our faith and to pray for one another. 

When that young couple struggles with their marriage commitment, we need to be there to lift them up and see them through the difficulties. 
When that young person receives Eucharist or is confirmed, we should be there to make sure that they continue to partake of the sacramental life of the church and be good witnesses of their faith as they grow to maturity. This is one of the goals of the new evangelization — to re-propose and witness the Gospel to others. 

We become God’s instrument of evangelization when we pray for and encourage others to continue in their formation to learn more about Jesus Christ who they have encountered in these sacraments. 

We affirm this faith when we pray together as families in our homes, when we, as family, help those in need, when we speak openly about how Jesus is active in our lives and when we turn to Him during our times of struggle and need. 

The graces given to all of us in the reception of these sacraments and in our participation in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration will sustain us in life to be God’s witnesses of the Gospel message to those we encounter.