Sacramental Theology teaches a key
principal that all Catholics should know so as to derive the most abundant
graces that flow from the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Sacraments. Canon Law reminds us that the Sacraments are
the Masterpieces of God.
This is called DISPOSITIVE
GRACE. What this term means in clear
and unequivocal terms is that you receive graces from the Sacraments in direct
proportion to your disposition of heart and preparation of soul.
Sacraments are like FIRE. Fire can do immense good, but it can also do immense
damage. On a cold winter night, nothing
more sweet and enjoyable than a sparkling, sparking, cackling bundle of flames
in a chimney in the living room of your home. How often as a child was I thawed
out by this gift from heaven—the chimney fire!
On the other hand fires that are not
contained can cause huge forest fires. In California, fires have been known to extend from San Diego County, through
the County of L.A. reaching as far as Ventura County, cutting and burning
through thousands of acres of land, devouring and consuming homes, and sad to
say, even people!
St. Paul in his letter to the
Corinthians, chapter 11, warns us to be aware of whom it is we are
receiving. Some were eating and drinking
and ignoring the poor and then celebrating the Meal of the Lord—the most Holy
Eucharist— in this ill-disposed condition.
The fiery Apostle to the Gentiles
fiercely reprimands those who would receive Holy Communion, the Body and Blood
of Our Lord, in such a condition. For that reason St. Paul said that some were
eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Our Lord unto their own
condemnation. The same Apostle exhorted
them as well as the Church at large (and that includes you and me) to be sure
that we are in the state of grace before receiving Holy Communion.
In concrete how does this apply to
you and me as well as Catholics at large in the modern world in which we live,
where the conscience has been so poorly formed over the last half-century?
The Catechism has taught for
centuries, with respect to the reception of Holy Communion—the Body, Blood,
Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ--- that we must be in
the state of grace. Reception of the
Eucharist requires that our soul be in the state of grace to receive Jesus
worthily and receive the innumerable graces available for our peace of mind,
joy of spirit, growth in holiness and eternal salvation for all eternity.
MORTAL SIN: HOLD OFF! If you are
aware of having committed a mortal sin then you should abstain from receiving
Holy Communion, simple and clear. Otherwise this will be a Sacrilegious
Communion, the fire that burns, damages and destroys your soul rather than the
fire that heats and warms.
Probably you are thinking to
yourself: what then is a mortal sin. I have heard the terminology years ago,
but I forgot the definition. Well done: here it is!
To commit a mortal sin there are
GRAVE MATTER. The sin that is committed is serious or
grave by its very nature. Sins against the 6th Commandment are by
there nature grave or serious. Missing Holy Mass on Sunday, without any
justifiable reason, is grave/serious matter--- to give just a couple examples!
FULL KNOWLEDGE. A mortal sin is not committed if the person committing it is not aware of
it. However, as followers of Christ, we are morally responsible and obliged to
make it a constant effort in our lives to study and learn our faith on a constant basis.
This is called Permanent Formation! Some people, due to negligence and laziness,
make no effort to grow in the knowledge of their faith. This is culpable ignorance
that should be corrected.
FULL CONSENT OF THE WILL. Finally, to
commit a mortal sin, one has to give free and total consent of the will. This
means that a mortal sin is not done by accident, as if one were to slip on a
banana peel. No! You know it is serious
and you do it anyway against your conscience.
If these three conditions are
present, then it constitutes a MORTAL SIN. By committing a mortal sin, the
state of sanctifying grace is lost thereby excluding one from the reception of
the Holy Eucharist until….
SACRAMENTAL CONFESSION. Yes! So as to be able to receive the most
Holy Eucharist worthily, as faithful and practicing Catholics, we must have
recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, Reconciliation, or if you like The
Sacrament of God’s infinite Mercy.
All too often today, even among
Catholics you hear, “well I confess directly to God because He knows me, sees
me, hears me and loves me.” If you are a Protestant this is fine, but not as a
practicing Catholic. You must receive forgiveness through the proper means or
channel that Jesus has determined through His Church and through the reception
of the Sacrament of Forgiveness and through the presence of the ordained priest.
When the priest absolves you: “And I absolve you of your sins in the name of
the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” then it is not so much that
the priest forgives you (He is only the instrument), rather it is Jesus Himself
who forgives you and washes you clean through His Precious Blood that was shed
on the cross on Good Friday!
WORTHY COMMUNIONS. Then after having
received the Sacrament of Confession, Holy Communion can be received in the
state of grace and will serve as the most powerful means of sanctification and eternal salvation.
A WARNING! A real danger for many Catholics is the
danger of falling into the terrible pitfall of the “The Routine Communion”. In
other words, Mass and Holy Communion are available in abundance and I receive
Holy Communion with little preparation, poor participation in Holy Mass, with a
cold heart and literally no thanksgiving after I have received the Eucharistic
Lord. Jesus complained to St. Faustina because He said that many receive Him as
if He were a mere OBJECT! How terrible
it is when we are treated like mere “Objects”. How much worse when Jesus is
treated as a mere object---Remember, Jesus is God!!!!
USEFUL REMINDER! In the sacristies in the convents of some
nuns there is a reminder usually in eye’s view of the priest celebrant with
this catchy admonition: “Priest, man of
God, celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass and your
only Mass.” Should we not approach
Holy Communion with the same disposition of heart—to receive Jesus with great
fervor and faith and love as if it were our first Holy Communion, last Holy
Communion, and only Holy Communion? If that is our disposition of soul, Holy
Communion will definitely be the most powerful means for our constant
sanctification and eternal salvation.