The Principle of Sacramentality can best be defined if the words encompassing it are first described. The phrase sacramentality originated from a Latin word ‘Sacramentum’, which is a direct translation of the Greek word ‘mysterion’, which in English means mystery. The Principle of Sacramentality is, therefore, an instrument of reality that signifies the presence of God’s activity in any sacred undertaking of humankind (Sherry, 2008).
The Principle of Sacramentality is as God himself gave humans the son who is God, and He was born as a human being. God, became man through his son, was born of the blessed Mary, and was raised up as a man on the earth. The Principle of Sacramentality indicates that God is seen, heard and touched in the human living perspective since He became human through Jesus (Sherry, 2008). The Church conducts different rituals that enable the invisible presence of God to grow tangible in various ways for the believers to have a unique encounter with God in their lives (Cooke, 2004).
According to the Catholic Church, the Principle of Sacramentality is the way in which God expresses his invisible grace to Christians using signs and action. For instance, in the sacrament of Baptism, the water is used as a sign of God’s grace of washing away the sins. This washing shows that for the Christians to experience the cleansing of sins, they have to encounter with God through the sign of water, which is poured on them (Beguerie & Duchesneau, 1997).
The Church as a whole has three sacraments of initiation. Baptism is the first of the initiation sacraments the others being The Eucharist and Confirmation. The Baptism is taken to introduce a new member to the church. It all marks the entry of one into the church community. It is a welcome of one into godly life (Cooke, 2004). Baptism Marks the end of sins and thus the beginning of a new life in God. Baptism pardons Christian their sins and gives them the dignity to be called Gods children (John3; 5). Confirmation is the time one is filled with the Holy Spirit. It is time for one to take on God’s image (Luke 24; 49). Eucharist is about a Christian are transformed in the flesh all through to their everlasting life (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
Jesus Christ was the first one to institute sacraments since He gave His disciples some directives to follow in the way of Christianity. Such directives were confined to the establishment of sacraments. He said to His chosen disciples, to travel far and wide making disciples, teaching all those who believe and ultimately baptizing them in the name of the supreme trinity (Matthew 27:19). On the night before He died, He instituted the sacrament of Eucharist, the last supper. He took the bread, he blessed it, broke it and gave to His disciples as He uttered; “”This is my body, and this is the chalice of my blood, do this in remembrance of me”” (Mark 14:22-25). This practice gave the priests the power to consecrate the Eucharist, which is practiced today. It is all about confirmation of the ways of Christ and nothing less than doing what Jesus Christ set the disciples to do. It is also giving out to God the best regarding service to others.
Following the New Testament, baptism is an event that was practiced right from the time of John the Baptist to the present day. It is considered as a sacred ritual and one that stands out wholly for the believers as far as a cleansing of one’s sins is concerned. The Baptism is also understood as a time for the welcoming of the new church members into the faith. It all marks the entry of one into the church community. Therefore, Baptism cannot be complete without the association of water which is believed to wash away the sins and act as a regenerator to the renewal of the Christian faith by the installation of Holy Spirit into one’s soul (Luke 3:21). From the Christian perspective, the Sacrament of Baptism is the basis of the completely Christian life. It is a welcome of one into godly life Baptism Marks the end of sins and thus the beginning of a new life in God (Luke 2:21).
The word Baptism originated from a Greek word ‘baptizo’ in which it means to immerse. Water is seen as a purifier and a source of life and light as it nourishes the life of all living creatures’ even plants. This pathway directs anyone who seeks to be a true believer. It is through Baptism that all believers are freed from their sins and are born again as true children of God and joined the army of Christ (Mark 1:10). The Church has a firm position on the Sacrament of Baptism as it is from it that new disciples are created just as it was ordered by Christ.(Matthew 13:16).
Initially, during the creation, the man had the nature of God, but after falling into sin, man was separated from God’s character. This state left man a sinner. The Sacrament of Baptism was consequently introduced to reconcile the human with God. Jesus instituted this sacrament for every soul after paying for the original sin on the cross. In addition, the disciples were commanded to go all over the world preaching the word, and those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mark 16; 15-16)
Baptism is understood as a fundamental sacrament that any Christian qualifies to take in any stage in life as long as one decides to be the church member, apart from it being the first of all the seven sacraments. This is because no one can receive any of the six sacraments unless one is Baptized (Sherry, 2008). Baptism is equally vital for one’s salvation. Scripture confirms that it is only through baptism of water and that of the spirit that one has a place in God’s kingdom (John3; 6).
Confirmation is also identified a spiritual strengthening sacrament and was instituted to witness the true character of Christ. Jesus told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit’s power that will help them to be his witness all over the world (Luke 24; 49). Confirmation by Holy oil helps in increasing the sanctifying grace in Christian’s life as well as enabling them to remain spiritually alive. It is through Confirmation that the Christians can resist sin and become more like Christ (Cooke, 2004). The Sacrament of Confirmation is associated with light just as the Sacrament of Baptism is related to water (History & Development of Sacrament of Confirmation, 2017).
During the ceremony of Confirmation, some rituals accompany it, which is believed to be the qualification for one to be crowned entirely. Confirmation enables the Christian to be like Christ the king in leadership and directing others. Therefore, the Christians use the Sacrament of Confirmation in spreading their faith as well as defending it (Cooke, 2004).
The anointing ritual is the last one during this ceremony where anointing oil is smeared on the forehead of the confirmed. The oil smeared on the forehead of the established, therefore, shows that one has been chosen by God to be His child and he should follow the God’s teachings (1st Samuel 16:13).
The presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Eucharist is different from the presence of Christ in other sacraments. This is because in other sacrament Christ is present by his power but not in reality as in the body and blood. As a result, while partaking the Eucharist Christians do not only participate in the bread and wine but Christ in a person who is the food of eternal life. During Eucharist, the Catholics worship Christ, whom they supposed to be present in the sacramental bread and blood. This shows that the bread is not a mere symbol of Christ, but Christ is substantially present in it (Billy & Keating, 2006).
Those who have been initiated participate with others in the whole community in the Lord’s sacrifice using the Eucharist. It originated from the act of Christ in the Last Supper before his betrayal.Christ established the Eucharist of the sacrifice of His own body and blood. He did it to bring forth an eternal sacrifice that will be a sign of love, unity, resurrection and act as a memory of the journey of salvation that he underwent (Matthew 26:26-28).
The Eucharist summarizes our faith because we believe that Christ hang dead on the cross for our redemption. He gave His body for persecution for our sake and shed his blood for the redemption of our lost souls. This body is symbolized by the bread and blood changed from wine when the priest consecrates them when he says; “”This is my body and the chalice of my blood.”” (1st Corinthians 11:23).
The other name of Penance is Confession and Reconciliation. In this Sacrament, Christians are expected to confess their sin and return to God from their astray. The critical element of this sacrament is the act of confessing individual’s sins to the priest. The Catholic Church has given the Christians a way to reconcile with their creator (Cooke, 2004).
Christ as a sign of love and mercy instituted the Sacrament of Penance. What the signs of the Sacrament symbolize however is a more profound, mysterious, religious and spiritual state or level of being. At a sacred level, the Sacrament of Penance offers the opportunity for Christian to heal their relationship with God by obtaining forgiveness for their sins. It makes Jesus present and can change our lives as we come to know how God loves us. Signs, which accompany the Sacrament of Penance, are not just empty symbols; they convey something else, which draws humans into reality they portray. The priest utters that, “”your sins are forgiven”” (Luke 5:20). The signs embraced during this Sacrament of Penance reinforce the density of the forgiveness attained. Therefore, the Penance that we seek is to strengthen our faith.
Beguerie, P., & Duchesneau, C. (1997). How to understand the sacraments. New York: Crossroad.
Billy, D. J., & Keating, J. (2006). The way of mystery: The Eucharist and moral living. New York: Paulist Press.
Cooke, B. J. (2004). Sacraments & sacramentality. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
History & Development of Sacrament of Confirmation. (2017). Loyolapress.com. Retrieved 15 July 2017, from https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/sacraments/confirmation/history-and-development-of-sacrament-of-confirmation.
Sherry, P. (2008). The Sacramentality of Things. New Black friars, 89(1023), 575-590.
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