Sacraments: Grace for Christian Witness

symbols of the Seven Sacraments

Pope Francis has repeatedly urged the faithful not to remain closed-in on ourselves, focused only on the affairs of the Church, but rather to go out and give witness to Christ. This is the missionary spirit in which catechists share the Good News—not only in the classroom, but in our daily interactions with the greater community. This bold commission may seem daunting at times, but we receive grace, “the free and undeserved help . . . to respond to his call to become children of God.” (CCC 1996) God’s grace gives us the strength we need for Christian witness.

In Baptism we receive sanctifying grace, which enables us to “believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues; . . . live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit; . . . [and] grow in goodness through the moral virtues.” (CCC 1266) We are given the grace to witness by serving others, being faithful to the Church, and participating in the Church’s apostolic and missionary activity.

The Sacrament of Confirmation complements baptismal grace. “For ‘by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.’” (CCC 1285) Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit that unites us more firmly to Christ and his Church, increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism, and strengthens us for our increasing obligation to bear witness to Christ, share the Good News, and defend the faith through our words and actions.

In the Eucharist, Christ—who is the source of all grace—accompanies and sends us forth to share his message of salvation with all the world. “The liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.” (CCC 1332)

Even though we have been given this tremendous grace through Baptism, we sometimes stray from God. In those moments when we find ourselves disconnected from God, having rejected God’s free gift of grace, the Sacrament of Reconciliation restores what has been lost. “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” (CCC 1468)

In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, our suffering is consecrated to the suffering of Jesus. “Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service.” (CCC 1506) Even in times of grave illness we receive the grace to witness in a very special way.

The Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony “are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.” (CCC 1534) The grace received in these sacraments allows those who celebrate them to carry out their vocation to be Christian witnesses to the whole world in a spirit of service and unconditional love.

Let us dare to be bold Christian witnesses in the classroom and community, today and throughout our lives. We are strengthened by the grace of the sacraments. And always remember: Christ sends and accompanies us. We are never alone.

Living the Sacraments by Joe Paprocki

About Jayne Ragasa-Mondoy 29 Articles
Jayne Ragasa-Mondoy serves as Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Honolulu, which is comprised of the six major islands in the state of Hawaii. Born and raised in Honolulu, Jayne began her professional career in corporate management in the San Francisco Bay Area while remaining steadily involved in parish catechetical and liturgical music programs. Jayne, and her husband and daughter, returned to Honolulu where Jayne earned a master's degree in pastoral leadership from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Her perspective of volunteer recruitment and management is shaped by her lengthy experience in working with and leading volunteers in diocesan and parish catechetical ministries, as a high school teacher and administrator, and as a governing board member for local Catholic and private schools and the National Conference for Catechetical Leaders (NCCL).​ She is the author of Cultivating Your Catechists, part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series.

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