Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost—12 August AD 2007
Tradition and the Sacraments.

“Brethren: 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.”[1]


Ordinary of the Mass
English Text
Latin Text

    In 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!”[3]

    And 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 people.

    In 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.[4]

    The 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.

    Today we have heard of our Lord introducing the sacramental principle to His disciples.[5]  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.

    We 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]

    Because 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).

    In 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.”

    In 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.

    In 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....”

    In 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.

    Priestly 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.

    And 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.

    Now, 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.

    With 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.

    We 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.”

    And with Paul we can say, if anyone doesn't like it, “Let them be anathema!”



[1]  Epistle:  1 Corinthians xv: 1-10.


[3]  Galatians i: 8-9.

[4]  1 Corinthians xi.

[5]  Mark vii: 31-37.


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