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Sacraments in the Divine Will (Part One)

6/12/2017

Historical sources state that the veneration of the Most Blessed Sacrament originated in Belgium in 1246 as a Feast of the diocese of Liège, and the following year, in the same diocese, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi arose to celebrate the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in response to the theses of those who believed that the presence of Christ was merely symbolic and not real. The introduction of this Feast in the Christian calendar is due to Sister Giuliana of Mont-Cornillon, an Augustinian nun who lived in the first half of 1200. As a very young girl she had a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon with one dark spot which signified the absence of such a solemnity. In another vision, Christ Himself would have appeared to her, asking her to ensure that the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament was instituted to revive the faith of the faithful and to expiate the sins committed against the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Pope Urban IV, with the Papal Bull, “Transiturus” of August 11, 1264, from Orvieto, where he had established the residence of the Pontifical Court, extended the solemnity to the whole Church.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi recalls the liturgy of the Mass of the Lord's Supper (Coena Domini) on Holy Thursday: " Jesus’ gesture at the Last Supper is the ultimate thanksgiving to the Father for His love, for His Mercy. “Thanksgiving” in Greek is expressed as “eucharist”. And that is why the Sacrament is called the Eucharist: it is the supreme thanksgiving to the Father, who so loved us that he gave us His Son out of love"(Pope Francis).

Below is an excerpt from the Conference that Father Carlos Massieu held at the retreat of the Association Luisa Piccarreta Little Children of the Divine Will  in 2016 on:

 (Eucharist and) Sacraments in the Divine Will

Before entering the theme of the Sacraments, I think it is necessary to remember that "the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race," as  the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium (LG 1) teaches us.

The Sacred Scripture teaches us that the Holy Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, a Body formed by many members, united by the love for God and neighbor, enlivened by His Spirit, It draws nourishment from His Word and the Sacraments, means instituted by Jesus for Its salvation and sanctification.

In Luisa’s writings, Jesus says that the Apostles and the whole Church, have added nothing else to what He said and did when He was upon earth. The Church has added no other Gospel and instituted no additional Sacrament; rather, It always turns to all that He Himself did and said… It is true that the Church has commented the Gospel and has written much on all that He did and said, but It has never moved away from His source - from the origin of His teachings. So it will be with His Will: He placed in Luisa the foundation of the eternal law of His Will, that which is necessary so that it may be understood, as well as the teachings which are needed. And if the Church will expand in explanations and in commentaries, It will never depart from the origin - from the source constituted by Jesus. And if anyone wants to depart from it, he will remain without light and in obscure darkness; and if he wants light, he will be forced to go back to the source – that is, to His teachings.

I wanted in this first part to share what the Church teaches us about Its mystery and how Luisa loved and lived it as a daughter of Her, because the living as Christians and the "living in the Divine Will" that Luisa teaches us can be experienced in the Church and for the Church, in love towards God and our brothers, nourished by the Word of God and the Sacraments, in the midst of consolations, trials, and sufferings.

Now let’s enter the theme of the Sacraments. The life of the Church that God wants to communicate to us,  our belonging to It, our love towards God and neighbor, and the foundations of the Christian life pass through the Seven Sacraments.

What does the Church teach us about the Sacraments?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1113-1131) states that according to the Christian tradition “the Sacraments are sensible and efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.”

The sacrament is, first and foremost, a sensible sign, meaning that it proclaims tangibly the grace of God contained in the Gospel.

Then, the sacraments, to be such, must have been instituted by Jesus Christ.

And, finally, they are entrusted to the Church, which is  "Sacrament of Unity" to administer.

These are external signs, made of gestures and elements, such as water, oil, bread, wine, imposition of hands, accompanied by the words that proclaim the grace of God. This grace reaches us as believers,  it confirms us and strengthen our faith. The Church considers the sacraments  as effective in themselves, that is, regardless of the dignity of the ordained ministers who celebrate them, although their effects depend, however, on the spiritual condition of those who receive them. The sacraments act ex opere operato that is by the very fact of being administered.

In the Catholic Church,"the seven sacraments are the signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body." Through the Sacraments, the risen Christ becomes present, He manifests Himself and acts in the history of men to conform them more and more to Himself, in particular to make them able to reproduce in their life His Paschal mystery of Passion, Death and Resurrection.

The sacraments are seven, their number is confirmed by the Council of Trent. The other signs (eg blessed water, sign of the cross, blessing) are considered liturgically less important because they are not instituted directly by Christ in the Gospels; They are called “sacramentals”.

It is important to remember that each sacrament requires a specific matter (material sign), a specific form (the way they are administered) and the right intention (willingness to follow the Church)  for them to be valid. And, quoting Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1324) states that the Sacraments and the Eucharist in particular are the "source and summit of the Christian life."

And how did Luisa, as a daughter of the Church, live them?

Our dear Luisa Piccarreta, the "Little Daughter of the Divine Will," was born, as you know on April 23, 1865, and that same day was baptized in the Mother Church by Don Carlo Loiodice, parish vicar. At the age of nine Luisa received her first Communion and on the same day the Confirmation. From that day, Holy Communion became for Luisa the point of arrival and departure of her inner life. Luisa often received the sacrament of confession as her writings testify. The Sacraments were the sources of her inner life, in particular the Eucharist, which was her food and her dominant passion. The Sacraments in her life were also the framework within which one can look at the "land that the Sun of the Divine Will enlightened to form Its Kingdom."

 

don Carlos Massieu
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