In defense of Sacramentalism

These days, it’s fairly clear to anyone paying attention that the growing trends of secularism, relativism, and poorly-defined new age “spirituality” is causing the foundations of Christian worship to rot. Whether it is not attending church, or blantantly ignoring the teachings found in both the Bible and Church History, the disconnect from the church of the apostles is becoming more and more widespread.

In my view, nowhere is this scourge more rife than in attitudes towards the sacraments. Even among Catholics, confession is quickly becoming a rarity as people feel less need to confess their sins; it is nearly non-existent in Protestant churches; as some anecdotal evidence, in my parish, I have not once seen the confessional used by a prietst and penitent; I can only recall even a few instances that the “group confession” laid out in the rubrics of the BCP was included in the service. People are just as tepid in their approach to baptism; they clearly no longer believe Jesus’ words that it is needed for salvation. Looking at statistics for almost every sect excluding Pentecostals confirms this.

But perhaps the sacrament most neglected in this way is the Eucharist. Again, atheistic, materialist culture has definitely left it’s mark here. However I think that the churches themselves are also partly to blame. How often does a typical evangelical congregation observe Holy Communion, which many view as a relic of “popish corruption” of the church; I will bet rarely, if ever. But it is more than just evangelicals falling for this fallacy. Many Presbyterian churches only a few times a year to shift the focus of worship to preaching, meanwhile denigrating those who want to emphasize the sacraments as “superstitious”; even some Anglicans are guilty of these practices.Now I am not saying that reading the bible and listening to scriptural sermons are not spiritually wholesome endevaors; on the contrary, I believe them to be indispensable parts of a Christian life; nevertheless, we must remember that, whereas the sacraments are commandments straight from the Lord , scriptural reading in worship is not. Thus it is utterly beyond me why ANY Christian would disregard the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, in favor of what is really a human innovation, albeit one that does enormous good for the soul.

I think that all Christians need to remember the above facts, and realize once more that the sacraments ordained by Christ are in themselves channels of grace, and are to Christians what sacrifices were in the Old Covenant: a way for us to become closer with God .As they such are deserving of a central place in every Christian’s life. The more this happens, the safer our souls will be.

Please let me know your thoughts on these ramblings of mine in the comments below.

u said it all bro

Yes, unfortunately, many Catholics seem to forget the many graces that God wishes to grant us through His Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. I think it comes from poor catechesis. If people really, truly believed that Our Lord Jesus is present in the Eucharist, then they would be falling over each other trying to receive. If they really, truly knew the kind of sins they were committing and how much they were offending God, they would be falling over each other to go to Confession. If they knew the words of the Lord, they would make sure their infants were baptized as soon as possible after birth.

In the contemporary society that we live in, we need to engage in the New Evangelization in such a way that, without judgment, we can witness to the Gospel, spread the message of God’s Holy Catholic Faith, and encounter with all who are near us with God’s blessed Love.

May God bless you all! :slight_smile:

I think the problem is within the Church itself and how the liturgy is handled today. Priest and Bishops try to make the liturgy more “fun” and “entertaining” to the young. They want to get people more involved and active with the Church but I think it’s just a huge back fire. People are looking at the Eucharist now like it’s just something you do to “connect” with others. It’s more about feeling good rather than worshiping Jesus. And tradition, you know with the incense and the reverence and the high vestments, that’s all medieval nonsense according to people. “Oh, but the Church has “changed” for the modern times.” That’s how things are being presented today. That’s how people view the Church. Why do you think people are constantly saying that Pope Francis supports gay marriage just because he said he does not judge a person based on their sexuality? Because it’s how it’s being presented. It’s not being presented in it’s context. But rather it’s being presented like it is in support of gay marriage because that’s what the modernist seek to do to the Church. Twist the teachings and present a false gospel.

Spot on. I think that parents are forgetting that they are the most important part of their child’s knowledge of the Church’s teachings. Just going to mass once a week and youth group on Wednesday night is not enough to really expose your child to the beauty of the faith. It needs to take place at home every day through prayer, conversation, and healthy media that enriches their brain and soul.

My personal option is that this started long ago, not in the church but outside. In the 1800’s there was a backlash against traditional Protestantism which rejected sacramentalism to whether symbolic or not. This was in favor with rugged individualism, which is an innate u.s. Trait.

That backlash as Protestantism tried to and tries to cope with this has through societal pressures filtered into the church. Americans gravitate towards rugged individualism unfortunately. You’ll it’s that that works hand in glove with the modern concept of me and Jesus alone and why they are successful here.
Peace and God bless
Nicene

Thats why I find many other protestants so infuriating. It is so, SO hard trying to show them that the Eucharist is more than just the breaking of the bread, more than “the rich feast prepared by the Lord.” And like you said the progressive media just makes it worse. Next thing you know they’ll be teaching us that the whole Bible is just a metaphor:shrug:

To be honest, isn’t that what symbolism is all about?

Peace and God bless
Nicene

Being an orthodox Episcopalian must be hard in a church that allows its members to preform gay marriage an have abortions. But you my friend, I applaud for keeping the orthodox faith alive. Fight the good fight!

Thank you. Yes, it can be very hard, particularly when my parents think I’m a bigot for saying churches should not allow gay weddings and being pro-life

Where you raised a liberal Anglican and then later started subscribing to high church theology?

I am a born-again Christian and Jesus has radically transformed my life. When He speaks to me - when He works a great move of grace of in my life - it is noticeable not only to myself but to others as well. And, both scripturally and philosophically, I cannot imagine a way in which a person can have an encounter with God and not be radically changed by it.

I say that in order to present my position. My own position is that if I have received a great grace it will be noticeable. If I have been filled with the very body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ - then it ought to make a real impact in my life. I should be able to look inside at my experience and say, “Wow, God really did an amazing thing in my heart when I ate that bread and drank that wine! I am changed in a real way and made more like Jesus!” And observers should be able to note the same thing, too.

I was confirmed Catholic as a child. So a couple months ago when I felt that Catholicism was Christ’s true church, I went to confession and was admitted to take the Eucharist afterwards. I was very excited because all I heard about how the Eucharist is the peak and pinnacle of the Christian life and how it is such a great means of God’s grace. I took the bread believing that I was taking the transubstantiated real presence of God, and I kneeled down in reverence to Christ.

But what happened? I noticed nothing, really. I cannot look back now and mark that point in my life as an event in which God transformed me. When I had the bread in my mouth and I was trying my best to revere the body of Christ, my tongue reached up and poked at the bread. It seemed to be mere bread.

Now, I do not know what the truth is about the Lord’s Supper entirely. When I take a bread and imagine Christ’s sufferings - that He gave up His body for me - and then imagine that I am truly eating Christ’s flesh as a sacrifice He made to nourish me - I feel a deep sense of awe and admiration and reverence for Christ. But this happens whether I am at home with a piece of potatoe chip, in a protestant service, or at Catholic mass. Makes no difference to me.

But when I have had a real encounter with God’s grace in Christ I know I have been radically changed. People see the changes in my life and I know Jesus is working. So it is very difficult for me to see how the Eucharist could be everything Catholics claim it is when it never seems to result in any such changes. Can any of you honestly claim that each time you take the bread and wine that you experience real, significant, lasting and visible changes in the way you think and feel?

the whole purpose of this Christian life is to become more like Jesus. to worship Him in truth, to love Him deeply, to come to know Him and obey Him and thus bring Him glory. if the Eucharist is what Rome claims it to be, then it should result in radical transformation towards these goals. but I do not see these changes occurring in those who take the bread and wine of Rome.

So… that’s my opinion and observations on the subject. If something truly is a great means of grace, it will cause a noticeable, lasting, and significant change in a persons life. I know for absolute certain that when a person surrenders their heart to Jesus, they are automatically transformed in a radical way. It is undeniable the amazing, absolute extreme changes that occur when a person goes from unbeliever to believer. They are filled with The Holy Spirit and He lives inside them and transforms them into the image of Christ. Every person who has The Holy Spirit inside them has God inside them, Christ inside them, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If you already have the Spirit of God inside you - what benefit is eating more of it? I do not know.

You’re making grace out to be what it’s not, a feeling.

I was a Protestant one time, a very confused Protestant. But I could never truly feel the Holy Spirit, But when I came back to the Catholic Church and took the Eucharist after a long and amazing confession, I did feel God. I felt him more than I ever did before.

Your experience is purely subjective just as mine was.Grace is not a feeling, rather it is the free gift of God given to us for the forgiveness of sins.

You also utter heresy and break away from what the orthodox Church has been teaching since the very start. As Ignatius of Antioch, student of John the Apostle, said “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.”

Well, I’d have to say that the problem you seem to be facing is that, when you went to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, you thought that you were going to feel a euphoria of grace and enter into some sort of ecstasy. Now, while this has been very common with many of the great saints of the Church, God was not intending that for you the very first time you received the Eucharist, and, this is not something that God intends for all people at all times.

I am sorry that you did not feel the way you thought you were going to feel, but that does not invalidate the Sacrament by a long shot. Catholicism is not a religion of feelings. Yes, God does allow us to feel His grace very specially at some times, and he also permits us to feel a little downtrodden at times (spiritual dryness) for the purpose of our coming closer to Him in holiness. But, most of the time, it is simply a serenity and peace in the heart, knowing that God is with you. Therefore, you should not discredit the Eucharist simply because you did not feel that you had a catharsis of emotion and grace upon receiving the Lord.

And yes, I do honestly know for a fact that when I receive Jesus in the Eucharist, I feel His Love within my heart and soul, and know that I am ready to live His Love with my brothers and sisters.

I think that the only reason you have become disheartened and confused is because you did not get exactly what you wanted, but remember that God is the one who gives and takes away, and that we have to let Him grant us the graces He pleases. Thus, I would recommend speaking to a good Catholic priest and discuss what you have been through and some of the points I and others raise here and come back into the Catholic faith. God is waiting for you!

May God bless you always and lead you into the Light of His Catholic Truth! :slight_smile:

Exactly. I too am a convert from Protestantism and I definitely got much more “feelings” going to those services then when I first started going to Catholic masses. However, when I looked at the history of the church and how the Protestant denominations broke off from Catholicism, it became apparent that the Catholic church is the true Church of Christ.

I kept going to mass, started RCIA, kept reading, and definitely kept praying. As my knowledge increased, so did my heart. I began understanding so much more about my faith and I couldn’t wait to receive the Eucharist for the first time at Easter Vigil. Every time I take it I feel the Holy Spirit. I put the host in my mouth, look up at Jesus on the crucifix and appreciate so much what he did for us. Is it an explosion of good time feelings? No. I feel connected and confident that I am worshipping and honoring God in the way he wanted us to.

To sum up, it is not about what God needed to give me, it is about what I needed to do to honor him.

Did I speak of grace as something which merely produces a feeling?

No, grace is something that transforms you into the image of Christ.

When we encounter The Holy Spirit it results in dramatic change.

It is impossible to experience God without transformation.

However it seems that the “dramatic change” has to be on your terms, not the Holy Spirit’s.

Furthermore I am not sure either of you paid much attention to the actual words I used in my post.

Yet, I would take issue with your condemnation of feelings. It is out heart that Christ wants. A real relationship with Christ will radically transform our heart. Our entire way of thinking and feeling will be turned upside down.

Our feelings - the way we feel about sin,the way we feel about the Scriptures, the way we feel about other believers, the way we feel about unbelievers, the way we feel about Christ, the way we feel about life, the way we feel about everything - our feelings are radically changed and transformed every time we receive grace.

No, not on my terms. My terms would be more self-confidence, more swagger, more charm and charisma, more appeal to women, more successful in business, etc.

These are not the changes that Jesus has wrought in me, however.

More faithful, more loving, more peaceful, more wise. These are the changes that The Holy Spirit brings.

An encounter with The Holy Spirit will always bring more love for Jesus, more love for Christians, and more love for the Scriptures. It will also bring more hatred of sin and more holiness of living.

No disagreement with this statement at all.

I also agree with this, however I would add that an encounter with the Holy Spirit would bring the need to follow him in the way he wants us to follow. That is through the Catholic church since he established it that way. It wasn’t until the Protestant Reformation/Church of England fiasco where people decided that Christ’s church was wrong. Martin Luther changed translations in the Bible and King Henry broke off from the Catholic church to get a divorce. Not the holiest of reasons…

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