Last week I responded to a Reader’s question on how to fight discouragement and temptation. I concluded with her that the only way to do this is through a Sacramental life in Christ. I have made this somewhat vague recommendation many times on this blog and therefore I created this post with more details so that I can refer back to it in the future.
I have shared in other posts that when I returned to the Catholic Church after being away for about 4 years, it was the discovery of the Sacramental aspect of our life in Christ that was so profound to me. My body, my fertility, my struggles and my desire for marriage finally made sense in light of the Sacraments. It was the beginning of the healing process for me.
The Armor of God
Scripture is clear that in order to fight against discouragement and temptation, we are to put on the Armor of God. As Catholics, our armor is not limited to scripture. We have a whole cache of weapons, namely the Sacraments, which strengthen us and infuse Grace into our souls. Through the Sacraments, our relationship with Jesus is expressed and experienced with our whole body in communion with the Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“1131 The Sacraments are efficacious (this means they are actually effective and do something real) signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.”
A “Sacrament,” according to the Baltimore Catechism, is:
“an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.” They are an outward sign of something going on inside of us. The Sacraments have the power of giving grace from the merits of Jesus Christ.”
I have 10 recommendations for you on how to have a Sacramental Life in Christ. Note how each one includes your body:
1. Adoration of our Lord: I recommend you spend time in Eucharistic Adoration and just listen to Him speak to you. Sit in His real presence and let Him pour out His love to you and comfort you. If you are unsure of His real presence, check out John Chapter 6.
2. Reconciliation: Go to Confession and get those regrets off of your chest. Even if you believe you have been forgiven, I promise you that once you confess those sins in the Confessional, you will feel amazing and free. Our creator God knows that our need for Sacramental Confession has both a Spiritual as well as a Psychological basis. Besides, confession to a priest is very biblical! Once you are in a state of grace again, you are prepared to take Jesus (body, blood, soul and Divinity) into your body (John Chapter 6) at Holy Communion.
“….There is no reason to die a spiritual death when we have this supreme remedy at hand. Make frequent and devout use of this sacrament. Not only does it cleanse from grave sin but it helps us avoid venial sins, to see them clearly and receive the graces to repair whatever damage they cause. You will also practice the virtues of humility, simplicity and charity. In a single act of contrition you will exercise many virtues.”
St. Francis de Sales (16th Century Bishop of Geneva)
3. Mass: I love the Old Testament! Especially the specific way the Lord taught the Israelites how to worship Him. It was very communal and it involved their whole bodies. Today, we do this through the Mass. I recommend that you find a parish and start going to Mass. Even if you have to ease into it, the Lord will welcome you and pour out His grace upon you. The Mass involves your whole body. Worship Him and kneel before Him. Confess to Him He that is the Creator and that you are a sinner in need of help by reciting the Creed. Listen to His holy word, Sacred Scripture.
4. Holy Eucharist: Once you are in a state of grace from the Sacrament of Confession, you will be prepared to receive the Lord in the Eucharist at Mass. Hunger, thirst, take and eat. Present your body to God as a weapon. He wants an intimate relationship with you. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He makes Himself available to us in the most intimate way.
“….By adoring and consuming beauty, purity and goodness itself in his divine sacrament, you will become completely beautiful, entirely holy and perfectly good. Go to Holy Communion as often as you can…”
St. Francis de Sales
In addition to the above, I recommend these 6 habits and practices:
5. Scripture and Holy Books: Sign up to receive the daily readings in your email. Bathe your mind in Sacred Scripture. Meditate upon it and allow God to speak to you through His sacred words. Here is a good site for that: Also, read holy books listed here.
6. Daily Prayer: Prayer conforms our mind and will to God’s will.
7. Serve: Apply your body in service and for the Kingdom. For example, when I was single, I taught 7th grade Catechism. What is your passion? Ask the Lord to show you how to apply your body in His service.
8. Chastity: The enemy is cunning and he knows that our desire to be loved by a man is a weakness. Think about the ways he has deceived you in the past. What type of men weaken you? What drives you to make decisions which are not in line with your dignity?
9. Holy Companions: Seek out friends that are like-minded and who are also committed to the Lord and His precepts.
10. Fast: This is something I failed to take advantage of until recently. I still am weak in this area of spiritual warfare. What I have learned is that we can fast from anything that we love and the Lord will bless us.
“…Among many others are these four fruits: fasting fortifies the spirit, mortifying the flesh and its sensuality; it raises the spirit to God; it fights concupiscence and gives power to conquer and deaden its passions; in short, it disposes the heart to seek to please only God with great purity of heart…”
St. Francis de Sales
God love and bless you!
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