Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost—8 July A.D. 2012

17th Century Giovanni Lanfranco The Multiplication of the Loaves
Raccolta della Manna

[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
[ English Text ]
[ Latin Text ]

“He that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ,
we believe that we shall live also together with Christ:”[1]

    The readings in today’s Mass take us back to the events of Holy Week and Easter.  In writing to the Romans about Baptism, Saint Paul evokes our memories of the Easter Vigil, wherein we blessed the baptismal water that would be used for the following year.  Indeed, if there were adults to be baptized, the Easter Vigil would be the most appropriate time of the year for that to be done.  Further, we are reminded of the Last Supper and the institution of the Priesthood by the Gospel reading.  These are perhaps the most fundamental aspects of our Catholic Faith, and it is very important that we understand them, and are able to defend them against those who would mislead the faithful.  Catholics, especially those who have been Confirmed, have a duty to profess the Faith when somebody presents a false version of It.

    It is hard for me to say this, but the highest levels of the Church have been infiltrated by those who do not believe, and who would mislead the faithful, and confuse them with non-Catholic doctrines.  Just this past week we learned that a man has been made Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who would probably disagree with everything I say in this sermon; with what the Church has taught for two thousand years.[2]

    Among Modernists and non-Catholics it is fashionable to think of Baptism as a rite of initiation by which one obtains membership in the Church.  This is not wrong, but it ignores the most essential function of Baptism, which of course, is “justification” or deliverance from original sin.  Baptism makes the soul radically holy, capable of pleasing God through one’s good works, sacrifices, and good behavior.  It makes the soul capable of receiving the other six Sacraments, and marks it with an eternal character that identifies us forever as Christians.  As saint Paul said, through Baptism “we are dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[3]

    We believe that Baptism, like the other Sacraments, is the operation of Jesus Christ through the ritual which He prescribed, to confer the grace particular to the Sacrament in question.[4]  There is always a minister of the Sacrament, be it a priest or a layman, just as our Lord multiplied those loaves of bread by having His Apostles distribute them to the crowd.  Jesus acted through them—His power, and not theirs, multiplied the loaves.  Since the Sacrament is the action of Jesus Christ, the holiness of this merely human minister is of lesser importance.  Saint Thomas Aquinas likens the minister to “a pipe through which water passes, be it silver or lead.” He concludes:

    The ministers of the Church do not by their own power cleanse from sin those who approach the sacraments, nor do they confer grace upon them: it is Christ who does this by His own power while He employs them as instruments.- Therefore the ministers of the Church can confer the sacraments though they be wicked.[5]

    Nearly a thousand years earlier, Saint Augustine, saying the same thing, put it slightly differently:

    He [Christ] it is that baptizes in the Holy Ghost: Peter may baptize, it is He [Christ] who baptizes; Paul may baptize, it is He [Christ] who baptizes; Judas may baptize, it is He [Christ] who baptizes.[6]

    Those ignorant of the Faith view the waters of Baptism as little more than a symbol of cleansing from sin;  they view the Blessed Sacrament as merely bread and wine, a symbol of the body and blood of Christ;  they view Christ’s priest as nothing more than someone chosen to preside over all of this symbolism.  Where there are realities, those opposed to the Catholic Faith see only symbols.  They fail to see the reality brought about by the operation of Jesus Christ.

    This idea of Jesus Christ personally operating through the Sacraments is generally denied by the enemies of the Faith, for they erroneously explain the Sacraments as mere symbols which encourage men and women make some appropriate act of faith—often an emotional act which is thought to guarantee salvation, as though one said to be “saved” was no longer capable of sin.  Failure to perceive the operation of Christ in the Sacraments leads them to the erroneous notion that, for Catholics, the Sacraments “work like a magic charm whether you have faith or not.”[7]  It is no wonder that, under such an influence, so many modern people have fallen away from the Faith, for they caricature religion as “magic,” and Jesus Christ as “magician.”

    Certainly, this in itself, is reason enough to be concerned that the true teachings of the Faith be retained and taught in the modern world.  Failure to know the truth will cause the world to drift farther and farther from God.  The authentic Catholic Faith is eminently reasonable and in no way magical or superstitious.  Only when it is corrupted by error does it lose its ability to convince reasonable people and to draw them to Jesus Christ.

    It is also of utmost importance that each one of the faithful sees the reality of Jesus Christ operating in the Sacraments we receive.  Without this perception of reality it becomes too easy to lose our appreciation of what they really are.  Every time we receive a Sacrament, we should be conscious of the fact that God is acting personally in us.  God has not forgotten His people, but rather, he lives in us continuously through our Baptism, through the Blessed Sacrament, and through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

“He that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ,
we believe that we shall live also together with Christ:”


[4]   The theological term is that the Sacraments function “ex opere operato.

[6]   Augustine, Commentary on John 6, 7.

[7]   Pastor Fritz Baue, A Lutheran Manifesto

Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!