WEEK TWO: Sacraments (Celebrating the Christian Mystery)
DAY 4: We Are All Broken (The Sacraments of Healing)
No doubt you are familiar with Horatio Alger. Horatio Alger, Jr. was a 19th century American author who wrote a number of what came to be known as “rags-to-riches” stories, which embodied what became known as the American Dream—that is, the idea that through hard work, determination, and courage, anyone could lift themselves up out of poverty.
This kind of thinking is at the heart of American culture. Unfortunately, we tend to approach our spiritual lives with the same attitude: “with hard work, perseverance, and determination, we’ll be able to save ourselves!” In reality, the opposite is true. When it comes to our salvation, we are unable to save ourselves. It is only through the grace of God that we are saved—that we are healed from the brokenness of the human condition.
We are all broken and in need of being saved. Frankly, I think that’s the best response to give to someone (especially a child) who asks why they need to go to Mass: “Because you’re broken.”
In addition to the ongoing healing that we receive from regular attendance at Mass and reception of the Eucharist, the Church also provides two other significant opportunities for encountering Jesus’ healing grace: the Sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.
Through these sacraments, we encounter God in our brokenness. Our world despises brokenness and, indeed, brokenness is not something to relish. However, our faith teaches us that it is in our brokenness that we are most capable of recognizing the presence of God in our midst. This is why we keep crucifixes in our homes. We look to a symbol of brokenness to represent our salvation. It was through Jesus’ brokenness and his Resurrection that we are saved. When we are broken by sin or by the burden of serious illness, we turn to God in all of our vulnerability for healing. The Sacraments of Healing smooth over the spiritual potholes that prevent us from journeying to the Lord.
The very best way to begin the Year of Faith is for each of us to own up to our brokenness and to seek healing by deepening our faith in Jesus, our Divine Physician.
Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.
- What does it mean to say the Christianity is not about picking ourselves up by our bootstraps when we’ve fallen?
- We find healing through the mercy of Jesus Christ. What is your understanding of the word mercy?
- How would you explain to a non-Catholic the reasons that Catholics confess their sins to a priest?
- When was a time that your emotional/spiritual state affected you physically? How about the other way around: a time when your physical condition affected your emotional/physical state?
- Why is admitting our brokennes the best way to begin the Year of Faith?
Lord, Jesus, you are my Divine Physician, the healer of my soul, my body, and my spirit. I pray that I may turn to you in my brokenness, knowing that through your Cross and Resurrection, you have overcome all evil, even death. Heal me of my sinfulness and fill me with your grace. In my times of illness, stretch forth your healing hand and restore me to health. I pray for all those who are sick and suffering. Lord, may they experience your healing compassion. Amen.
- Something’s Broken
- Re-Situate Your Life
- What Forgiveness Means
- Things We Cannot Change
- On Suffering
- Everything is Changed
CCC References: 1420 – 1532
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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.