Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost—12 August AD 2007
and the Sacraments.
The Gospel which you have received; wherein you stand; by which you will be
saved if you hold fast after the manner in which I preached it to you.”
Ordinary of the Mass
today's terms we can quite easily call St. Paul a
"traditionalist." He certainly would rail against today's
Modernist heretics, who claim that truth and even God Himself are in a
continuous state of change and development. In today's epistle he tells
the Corinthians that their salvation depends upon remaining faithful to the
Gospel as it was preached to them. He is even more emphatic in his Epistle
to the Galatians, in which he says, “If anyone ... even an angel from heaven
... preach a gospel to you other than the one that which you have received, let
him be anathema!”—literally, “let him be damned!”
Paul recognizes that he is being dogmatic—that he is telling people what they
must believe and what they must not believe. So he is careful to
demonstrate that he is asking them to believe not on his own authority, but on
the authority of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And further, he
demonstrates to them that the religion of Jesus Christ is eminently worthy of
belief. This Jesus died for our sins, but came back to life by His own
power in the Resurrection on the third day. And, again, he assures them
that they are hearing this not just by way of hearsay, but on the testimony of
those who knew Jesus personally, and on the testimony of hundreds of other
this epistle, Paul tells the Corinthians many things, but one that stands out is
the need to avoid the false worship of unbelievers; and even more importantly,
to partake frequently of the Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. He
places great emphasis on the fact that after the priest consecrates bread and
wine with a specific set of words, these two elements are truly the Body and
Blood of Christ—so much so that if we eat and drink them without the proper
dispositions we will eat and drink damnation to ourselves.
Sacraments (of which Holy Communion is one) play a very important part in the
religion of Paul, because his is the religion of Jesus Christ, which cannot be
changed; even with the passing of thousands or tens of thousands of years.
we have heard of our Lord introducing the sacramental principle to His
Since He created us, He knows that we are both material and spiritual in our
natures—and that, in order to communicate spiritual realities to us, often He
must do so with physical means. As the Son of God, Jesus could have cured
this deaf and dumb man simply by wanting him cured; a simple resolution in His
mind. But in order to demonstrate the connection between the spirituality
of the mind of God and the earthly world of human beings, He took earthly matter
and uttered human words to effect the cure of this poor deaf and dumb man.
see the same thing in each of the Sacraments; 1) someone with the
appropriate power; 2) intends to do for someone else what is desired in
the mind of God; 3) by using some appointed earthly sign; 4) and by
repeating some appointed phrase of human words which express what the Sacrament
is doing. That's the same thing as what the theologians mean when they
tell us that for a valid sacrament we must have the appropriate “minister,
intention, matter, and form.” [Reiterate]
of its great importance for salvation, in time of necessity anyone can baptize;
even though it is usually a priest or deacon who pours the water (which is the
earthly matter) and recites the words, “I baptize thee in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (the earthly form).
Confirmation the bishop (or occasionally a priest) places his hand on the
recipient's head, anointing him with holy oil (the matter); while
pronouncing the form, “I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and confirm
thee with the chrism of salvation.”
Holy Communion the priest takes bread and wine, which are the matter; and then,
speaking as Christ, says that they are, “My Body,” and “My Blood ... being
shed for you and for many in remission of sins.” the form which makes this
change of substance a reality.
Confession the matter is the sin confessed by the penitent and submitted to the
judgment of the priest; the form, then, is uttered by the priest, again
speaking as Christ and saying, “I absolve thee of all thy sins....”
Extreme Unction (the anointing of the sick), the matter is another of the holy
oils, accompanied by a priestly prayer asking God's forgiveness for the sins we
have committed by the use of our bodily senses.
ordination is conferred by the matter of the bishop's laying his hands on the
heads of those to be ordained, followed by a form of prayer asking God to fill
these men with the Holy Ghost according to the order of the priesthood.
finally, Matrimony is conferred by the bridal couple themselves as they hand
over the rights to their very selves, and speak a form of words to publicly
acknowledge their union.
just as our Lord was the one who healed the deaf and dumb man by touching his
tongue, and uttering the words, “Be thou opened,” likewise He is the one who
is the Author of these seven sacraments. And Saint Paul would be very
insistent about that if he were here today. He would tell us that these
Sacraments are part of an unchanging Gospel. He would remind us that they
have not “evolved” into “rites of initiation,” or “rites of
passage,” or “rituals of the community,” or any of the other nonsense
being pushed by Modernist Catholics.
St. Paul, we must profess that these Sacraments are “outward signs,
instituted by Christ to give grace.” For only the Sacraments of our Lord
Jesus Christ can give us the graces needed to live in union with God here on
earth, and to win the final grace of union with God in heaven.
ought to listen, and to hear Paul's words: “This is the Gospel which you
have received; wherein you stand; by which you will be saved if you hold fast
after the manner in which I preached it to you.”
with Paul we can say, if anyone doesn't like it, “Let them be anathema!”