Father, anoint me with your Holy Spirit,
so that as I read Your eternal word,
Your word may penetrate my whole being
and transform me.
Grant me the blessing to be a faithful disciple
in believing the Word of God
and that I may be a light shining
upon all who are in darkness.
Lord Jesus Christ, by Your patience in suffering
you hallowed earthly pain
and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’s will:
Be near me in my time of weakness and pain;
sustain me by Your grace,
that my strength and courage may not fail;
heal me according to Your will;
and help me always to believe
that what happens to me here
is of little account if You hold me in eternal life,
my Lord and my God. Amen.
O Jesus, lover of the young, the dearest Friend I have,
in all confidence I open my heart to You
to beg Your light and assistance in the important task of planning my future.
Give me the light of Your grace,
that I may decide wisely concerning the person
who is to be my partner through life.
Dearest Jesus, send me such a one
whom in Your divine wisdom
You judge best suited
to be united with me in marriage.
May his character reflect some of the traits of Your own Sacred Heart.
May he be upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble,
so that with united efforts and with pure and unselfish love
we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body,
as well as the family it may please You to entrust to our care.
Bless our friendship before marriage,
that sin may have no part in it.
May our mutual love bind us so closely,
that our future home may ever be most like Your own at Nazareth.
O Mary Immaculate, sweet Mother of the young,
to your special care I entrust the decision I am to make
as to my future husband.
You are my guiding Star!
direct me to the person
with whom I can best cooperate
with whom I can live in peace, love and harmony in this life,
and attain eternal joys in the next.
Bless Our Family
All praise to You, Lord Jesus,
Lover of children:
Bless our family,
And help us to lead our children to You.
Give us light and strength,
And courage when our task is difficult.
Let Your Spirit fill us with love and peace,
So that we may help our children to love You.
All glory and praise are Yours, Lord Jesus,
Forever and ever.
The LORD is cleansing me
of all selfishness,
resentment and critical feelings
for my fellow beings
…as well as self-condemnation
and the misinterpretation of my life experiences…
…and more HE is bathing me
in generosity, appreciation, praise and gratitude
for my fellow beings
…and blessed me with self-acceptance
and an enlightened understanding of my experiences…
This list is compiled from articles in the Original Catholic Encyclopedia and is provided for your benefit.
The list is sortable by name (alpha) and by chronology.
Order Name Years Notes
1 Peter, Apostle, Saint Reigned 33-67
2 Linus, Saint Reigned c.67-76
3 Anacletus, Saint Reigned 76-88 aka Cletus
4 Clement I, Saint Reigned 88-97
5 Evaristus, Saint Reigned c.98- c.106 Aristus in the Liberian Catalogue
6 Alexander I, Saint Reigned c.106-115
7 Sixtus I, Saint Reigned 115-125 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
8 Telesphorus, Saint Reigned 125-136
9 Hyginus, Saint Reigned c.136-140
10 Pius I, Saint Reigned c.140-c.154
11 Anicetus, Saint Reigned c.157-168
12 Soter, Saint Reigned c.166-c.174
13 Eleutherius, Saint Reigned c.175-189
14 Victor I, Saint Reigned 189-c.198
15 Zephyrinus, Saint Reigned 198-217
16 Callistus I Reigned 218-c.222
17 Urban I Reigned 222-230
18 Pontian, Saint Reigned 230-235
19 Anterus, Saint Reigned 235-236 aka Anteros
20 Fabian, Saint Reigned 236-250
21 Cornelius Reigned 251-253
22 Lucius I, Saint Reigned 253-254
23 Stephen I, Saint Reigned 254-257
24 Sixtus II, Saint Reigned 257-258 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
25 Dionysius, Saint Reigned 260-268
26 Felix I, Saint Reigned 269-274
27 Eutychianus, Saint Reigned 275-283
28 Caius, Saint Reigned 283-296
29 Marcellinus, Saint Reigned 296-304
30 Marcellus I, Saint Reigned 308-309
31 Eusebius, Saint Reigned 309 or 310
32 Miltiades, Saint Reigned 311-314
33 Sylvester I, Saint Reigned 314-335
34 Mark, Saint Reigned 336 aka Marcus
35 Julius I, Saint Reigned 337-352
36 Liberius Reigned 352-366
37 Damasus I, Saint Reigned 366-383
38 Siricius, Saint Reigned 384-399
39 Anastasius I, Saint Reigned 399-401
40 Innocent I Reigned 401-417
41 Zosimus, Saint Reigned 417-418
42 Boniface I, Saint Reigned 418-422
43 Celestine I, Saint Reigned 422-432
44 Sixtus III, Saint Reigned 432-440 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
45 Leo I, Saint Reigned 440-461
46 Hilarus, Saint Reigned 461-468
47 Simplicius, Saint Reigned 468-483
48 Felix III (II), Saint Reigned 483-492
49 Gelasius I, Saint Reigned 492-496
50 Anastasius II Reigned 496-498
51 Symmachus, Saint Reigned 498-514
52 Hormisdas, Saint Reigned 514-523
53 John I, Saint Reigned 523-c.526
54 Felix IV (III) Reigned 526-530
55 Boniface II Reigned 530-532
56 John II Reigned 533-535
57 Agapetus I, Saint Reigned 535-536
58 Silverius, Saint Reigned 536-537
59 Vigilius Reigned 537-555
60 Pelagius I Reigned 556-561
61 John III Reigned 561-574
62 Benedict I Reigned 575-579
63 Pelagius II Reigned 579-590
64 Gregory I Saint Reigned 590-604
65 Sabinianus Reigned 604-606
66 Boniface III Reigned 607
67 Boniface IV Reigned 608-615
68 Deusdedit, Saint Reigned 615-618
69 Boniface V Reigned 619-625
70 Honorius I Reigned 625-638
71 Severinus Reigned 640
72 John IV Reigned 640-642
73 Theodore I Reigned 642-649
74 Martin I, Saint Reigned 649-655
75 Eugene I Reigned 655-657
76 Vitalian, Saint Reigned 657-672
77 Adeodatus, Saint Reigned 672-676
78 Donus Reigned 676-678
79 Agatho, Saint Reigned 678-681
80 Leo II, Saint Reigned 682-683
81 Benedict II Reigned 684-685
82 John V Reigned 685-686
83 Conon Reigned 686-687
84 Sergius I, Saint Reigned 687-701
85 John VI Reigned 701-705
86 John VII Reigned 705-707
87 Sisinnius Reigned 708
88 Constantine Reigned 708-715
89 Gregory II, Saint Reigned 715-731
90 Gregory III, Saint Reigned 731-741
91 Zachary, Saint Reigned 741-752
92 Stephen II Elected 752 died before his consecration; excluded from some lists
93 Stephen III (II) Reigned 752-757
94 Paul I Reigned 757-767
95 Stephen IV (III) Reigned 768-772
96 Adrian I Reigned 772-795
97 Leo III, Saint Reigned 795-816
98 Stephen V (IV) Reigned 816-817
99 Paschal I Reigned 817-824
100 Eugene II Reigned 824-827
101 Valentine Reigned 827
102 Gregory IV Reigned 827-844
103 Sergius II Reigned 844-847
104 Leo IV, Saint Reigned 847-855
105 Benedict III Reigned 855-858
106 Nicholas I, Saint Reigned 858-867
107 Adrian II Reigned 867-872
108 John VIII Reigned 872-882
109 Marinus I Reigned 882-884
110 Adrian III, Saint Reigned 884-885
111 Stephen VI (V) Reigned 885-891
112 Formosus Reigned 891-896
113 Boniface VI Reigned 896
114 Stephen VII (VI) Reigned 896-897
115 Romanus Reigned 897
116 Theodore II Reigned 897
117 John IX Reigned 898-900
118 Benedict IV Reigned 900-903
119 Leo V Reigned 903
120 Sergius III Reigned 904-911
121 Anastasius III Reigned 911-913
122 Lando Reigned 913-14
123 John X Reigned 914-928
124 Leo VI Reigned 928
125 Stephen VIII (VII) Reigned 929-931
126 John XI Reigned 931-936
127 Leo VII Reigned 936-939
128 Stephen IX (VIII) Reigned 939-942
129 Marinus II Reigned 942-946
130 Agapetus II Reigned 946-955
131 John XII Reigned 955-964
132 Leo VIII Reigned 964-965
133 Benedict V Reigned 964
134 John XIII Reigned 965-972
135 Benedict VI Reigned 973-974
136 Benedict VII Reigned 974-983
137 John XIV Reigned 983-984
138 John XV (XVI) Reigned 985-996
139 Gregory V Reigned 996-999
140 Sylvester II Reigned 999-1003
141 John XVII (XVIII) Reigned 1003
142 John XVIII (XIX) Reigned 1003-1009
143 Sergius IV Reigned 1009-1012
144 Benedict VIII Reigned 1012-1024
145 John XIX (XX) Reigned 1024-1032
146 Benedict IX Reigned 1032-1044
147 Sylvester III Reigned 1045
148 Benedict IX Reigned 1045
149 Gregory VI Reigned 1045-1046
150 Clement II Reigned 1046-1047
151 Benedict IX Reigned 1047-1048
152 Damasus II Reigned 1048
153 Leo IX, Saint Reigned 1049-1054
154 Victor II Reigned 1055-1057
155 Stephen X (IX) Reigned 1057-1058
156 Nicholas II Reigned 1058-1061
157 Alexander II Reigned 1061-1073
158 Gregory VII, Saint Reigned 1073-1085
159 Victor III, Blessed Reigned 1086-1087
160 Urban II, Blessed Reigned 1088-1099
161 Paschal II Reigned 1099-1118
162 Gelasius II Reigned 1118-1119
163 Callistus II Reigned 1119-1124
164 Honorius II Reigned 1124-1130
165 Innocent II Reigned 1130-1143
166 Celestine II Reigned 1143-1144
167 Lucius II Reigned 1144-1145
168 Eugene III Reigned 1145-1153
169 Anastasius IV Reigned 1153-1154
170 Adrian IV Reigned 1154-1159
171 Alexander III Reigned 1159-1181
172 Lucius III Reigned 1181-1185
173 Urban III Reigned 1185-1187
174 Gregory VIII Reigned 1187
175 Clement III Reigned 1187-1191
176 Celestine III Reigned 1191-1198
177 Innocent III Reigned 1198-1216
178 Honorius III Reigned 1216-1227
179 Gregory IX Reigned 1227-1241
180 Celestine IV Reigned 1241
181 Innocent IV Reigned 1243-1254
182 Alexander IV Reigned 1254-1261
183 Urban IV Reigned 1261-1264
184 Clement IV Reigned 1265-1268
185 Gregory X Reigned 1271-1276
186 Innocent V Reigned 1276
187 Adrian V Reigned July-August 1276
188 John XXI (XX) Reigned 1276-1277
189 Nicholas III Reigned 1277-1280
190 Martin IV Reigned 1281-1285
191 Honorius IV Reigned 1285-1287
192 Nicholas IV Reigned 1288-1292
193 Celestine V, Saint Reigned 1294
194 Boniface VIII Reigned 1294-1303
195 Benedict XI, Blessed Reigned 1303-1304
196 Clement V Reigned 1305-1314
197 John XXII Reigned 1316-1334
198 Benedict XII Reigned 1334-1342
199 Clement VI Reigned 1342-1352
200 Innocent VI Reigned 1352-1362
201 Urban V, Blessed Reigned 1362-1370
202 Gregory XI Reigned 1370-1378
203 Urban VI Reigned 1378-1389
204 Boniface IX Reigned 1389-1404
205 Innocent VII Reigned 1404-1406
206 Gregory XII Reigned 1406-1415
207 Martin V Reigned 1417-1431
208 Eugene IV Reigned 1431-1447
209 Nicholas V Reigned 1447-1455
210 Callistus III Reigned 1455-1458
211 Pius II Reigned 1458-1464
212 Paul II Reigned 1464-1471
213 Sixtus IV Reigned 1471-1484
214 Innocent VIII Reigned 1484-1492
215 Alexander VI Reigned 1492-1503
216 Pius III Reigned 1503
217 Julius II Reigned 1503-1513
218 Leo X Reigned 1513-1521
219 Adrian VI Reigned 1522-1523
220 Clement VII Reigned 1523-1534
221 Paul III Reigned 1534-1549
222 Julius III Reigned 1550-1555
223 Marcellus II Reigned 1555 (22 days)
224 Paul IV Reigned 1555-1559
225 Pius IV Reigned 1559-1565
226 Pius V, Saint Reigned 1566-1572
227 Gregory XIII Reigned 1572-1585
228 Sixtus V Reigned 1585-1590
229 Urban VII Reigned 1590
230 Gregory XIV Reigned 1590-1591
231 Innocent IX Reigned 1591
232 Clement VIII Reigned 1592-1605
233 Leo XI Reigned 1605
234 Paul V Reigned 1605-1621
235 Gregory XV Reigned 1621-1623
236 Urban VIII Reigned 1623-1644
237 Innocent X Reigned 1644-1655
238 Alexander VII Reigned 1655-1667
239 Clement IX Reigned 1667-1669
240 Clement X Reigned 1670-1676
241 Innocent XI Reigned 1676-1689
242 Alexander VIII Reigned 1689-1691
243 Innocent XII Reigned 1691-1700
244 Clement XI Reigned 1700-1721
245 Innocent XIII Reigned 1721-1724
246 Benedict XIII Reigned 1724-1730
247 Clement XII Reigned 1730-1740
248 Benedict XIV Reigned 1740-1758
249 Clement XIII Reigned 1758-1769
250 Clement XIV Reigned 1769-1774
251 Pius VI Reigned 1775-1799
252 Pius VII Reigned 1800-1823
253 Leo XII Reigned 1823-1829
254 Pius VIII Reigned 1829-1830
255 Gregory XVI Reigned 1831-1846
256 Pius IX Reigned 1846-1878
257 Leo XIII Reigned 1878-1903
258 Pius X Reigned 1903-1914
259 Benedict XV Reigned 1914-1922 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
260 Pius XI Reigned 1922-1939 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
261 Pius XII Reigned 1939-1958 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
262 John XXIII, Blessed Reigned 1958-1963 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
263 Paul VI Reigned 1963-1978 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
264 John Paul I Reigned 1978 (33 days) Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
265 John Paul II Reigned 1978-2005 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
266 Benedict XVI Reigned 2005-present Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
My dear brothers, candidates for the priesthood: for you Christ today renews his prayer to the Father: “Consecrate them in truth, your word is truth” (Jn. 17,17). This consecration makes you even more a “new creation.” It sets you apart from the world, so that you may be completely dedicated to God. It gives you a mission to act as Christ’s ambassadors in reconciling the world to God. It was for this purpose that Jesus came from the Father and was born of the Virgin Mary. And it is this same mission which Christ entrusted to his disciples: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth” (Jn. 17,18).
At this important moment of your lives I say to you young men: Realize how deeply Jesus desires you to be consecrated as he himself is consecrated. Realize how closely the bond of priesthood joins you to Christ. Be worthy of the privilege you are going to receive of bringing God’s gifts of love to his people and offering to God the people’s prayerful response.
You must be men of God, his close friends. You must develop daily patterns of prayer, and penance must be a regular part of your life.
Prayer and penance will help you to appreciate more deeply that the strength of your ministry is found in the Lord and not in human resources.
You must try to deepen every day your friendship with Christ. You must also learn to share the hopes and joys, the sorrows and frustrations of the people entrusted to your care. Bring to them Christ’s saving message of reconciliation. Visit your parishioners in their homes. This has been a strength of the Church in England. It is a pastoral practice that should not be neglected. Teach your people boldly about the faithful love of God. And do not forget all those with special needs, particularly those who are in prison, and their families. In the gospel Christ identifies himself with prisoners when he says, “I was in prison, and you visited me.” And remember that he did not specify whether they were innocent or guilty. Because you represent Christ, no one can be excluded from your pastoral love. I ask you, together with your brother priests, to take my greetings to all the prisons in Britain, especially the large one in Manchester. Christ Jesus went to offer peace of conscience and the forgiveness of all sins. Through Jesus Christ offer hope. Through you, in your heart, Jesus Christ wants to love those for whom he died. You must show that you believe in that faithful love by the fidelity with which you live your own life. You must proclaim the Gospel with your life.
When you celebrate the sacraments at the decisive moments of their lives, help them to trust in Christ’s promised mercy and compassion. When you offer the redeeming Sacrifice of the Eucharist, help them to understand the need for transforming this great love into works of charity.
My brothers be aware of the effect on others of the witness of your lives.
Your ordination is a source of consolation for those who have already given many years of priestly service, large numbers of whom are present today. The Lord is grateful for their labor and today he blesses them with the assurance that he will continue to provide for the future of the Church.
May all these priests be renewed in the joyful enthusiasm of their early call, and may they continue to give generously of themselves in Christ’s priestly work of reconciling the world to the Father.
I know of the many priests who could not be here because of old age or infirmity. To them also I send the expression of my love in Christ Jesus.
Their prayers, their wisdom, their suffering are rich treasures for the Church, from which will come forth abundant blessings.
And what of your contemporaries? Undoubtedly your acceptance of Christ’s mission is a clear witness for those who are not yet sure what the Lord wants of them. You show them that being ordained for God’s service is a noble vocation that demands faith, courage and self-sacrifice. I am sure that such qualities are to be found among the young people of Great Britain. To them I say: Be certain that Christ’s call to the priesthood or religious life is addressed to some of you. Be certain that if you listen to his call and follow him in the priesthood or religious life, you will find great joy and happiness. Be generous, take courage and remember his promise: “My yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt. 11,30).
Finally, I wish to greet the parents and families of those about to be ordained. I say in the name of the Church, in the company of my fellow Bishops, thank you for your generosity. It was you who brought these men into the world. It was you who first gave them the faith and the values that have helped to lead them to God’s altar today. The Church, too, must be a family, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity, supporting each other and sharing with each other the individual gifts given by God. Every priest relies on the faith and talents of his parish community. If he is wise he will not only know the joy of dispensing God’s grace, but also of receiving it abundantly through his parishioners as well. The partnership between priests and people is built upon prayer, collaboration and mutual respect and love. That has always been the tradition of these islands. May it never be lost.
Through this ordination the Lord really and truly continues the work of his “new creation.” And he continues to send forth his message over all the earth and to speak personally to those who will be ordained:
“‘Go now to those to whom I send you
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you’
—it is the Lord who speaks!” Amen.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders began with the Last Supper, when Christ Jesus commissioned his Apostles to continue the Eucharistic celebration. He also commissioned his Apostles following the Resurrection to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). Thomas Aquinas makes the point that only Christ is the true priest, the others serving as his ministers (Hebrews 8:4). St. Ignatius, Bishop of Syria around 100 AD, in his Letter to the Magnesians (6), established the hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon for the early Churches, the pattern which still exists today. Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and priests and deacons are his assistants in rendering service. Men are ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as the sacrament confers upon – in persona Christi.
Holy Orders is the sacrament of Apostolic ministry. As in the Pastoral Epistles, the rite consists of the Bishop’s laying on of hands on the head of the priest-candidate with the consecrating prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the gifts of the ministry. There are three dimensions to ministry, that of Bishop, Priesthood, and the Diaconate. See Matthew 16:18-19, John 21:15-17, Romans 10:14-15, 2 Timothy 1:6, and Titus 1:5 as well as the following:
“Do this in memory of me.”
Gospel of Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:25
“Now be solicitous for yourselves and for the whole flock in which
the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to pasture the Church of God,
which He purchased with his own blood.”
Acts of the Apostles 20:28
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
First Letter of Paul to Timothy 4:14
“Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:4-5
In Baptism we are drawn into the community of faith. We become part of the pilgrim People of God, which, in all times and in all places, goes forward in hope towards the fulfillment of the “promise.” It is our task to take our place responsibly and lovingly beside those who, from the beginning, “remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2,42).
Baptism creates a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn by means of it. But Baptism, of itself is only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed towards the fullness of life in Christ (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 22). Baptism is the foundation of the unity that all Christians have in Christ: a unity we must seek to perfect. When we set out clearly the privilege and the duty of the Christian, we feel ashamed that we have not been capable of maintaining the full unity of faith and charity that Christ willed for his Church.
We the baptized have work to do together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The world is in need of Jesus Christ and his Gospel—the Good News that God loves us, that God the Son was born, was crucified and died to save us, that he rose again and that we rose with him, and that in Baptism he has sealed us with the spirit for the first time, gathered us into a community of love and of witness to his truth.
Another aspect of Baptism, perhaps the most universally familiar, is that we are given a name—we call it our Christian name. In the tradition of the Church it is a saint’s name, a name of one of the heroes among Christ’s followers—an apostle, a martyr, a religious founder, like Saint Benedict, whose monks founded Westminster Abbey nearby, where your sovereigns are crowned. Taking such names reminds us again that we are being drawn into the Communion of Saints, and at the same time that great models of Christian living are set before us. London is particularly proud of two outstanding saints, great men also by the world’s standards, contributors to your national heritage, John Fisher and Thomas More.
As the prophet Ezekiel reminds us, it is the Lord himself who is the true shepherd of this New People. He himself pastures his sheep. He shows them where to rest: “As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view … so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and the darkness…. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong” (Ez. 34,12 and 16).
Together we shall renew our baptismal promises. We shall reject sin, and the glamour of evil, and satan, the father of sin and prince of darkness. We shall profess our faith in one God, in his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, in the Church, in life everlasting. And we shall be responsible for the words we say, and be bound by an alliance with our God.
Brothers and sisters! In order to be faithful to this alliance we must be a people of prayer and deep spirituality. Our society needs to recover a sense of God’s loving presence, and a renewed sense of respect for his will.
Let us learn this from Mary our Mother. In England, “the Dowry of Mary,” the faithful, for centuries, have made pilgrimage, to her shrine at Walsingham. Today Walsingham comes to Wembley, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, present here, lifts our minds to meditate on our Mother. [Note: There was no time in his busy schedule for the Holy Father to visit the main Marian shrine in England, so the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was transported to Wembley.] She obeyed the will of God fearlessly and gave birth to the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faithful at the foot of the Cross, she then waited in prayer for the Holy Spirit to descend on the infant Church. It is Mary who will teach us how to be silent, how to listen for the voice of God in the midst of a busy and noisy world. It is Mary who will help us to find time for prayer. Through the Rosary, that great Gospel prayer, she will help us to know Christ. We need to live as she did, in the presence of God, raising our minds and hearts to him in our daily activities and worries.
May your homes become schools of prayer for both parents and children.
God should be the living heart of your family life. Keep Sunday holy. Go to Mass every Sunday. At Mass the people of God gather together in unity around the altar to worship and to intercede. At Mass you exercise the great privilege of your Baptism: to praise God in union with Christ his Son; to praise God in union with his Church.
Brothers and sisters, to be faithful to our alliance with God we must be, not only a people that prays, but also a people that does the will of the heavenly Father. Again it is Mary who teaches us how. Through her obedience she accepted the whole of God’s plan for her life. And in doing so she achieved greatness. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1,45).
We express our real acceptance of Christ’s word by respecting the moral demands of our Christian vocation. And the fulfillment of these demands is an act of loving obedience to the person of Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word of God. If our faith is strong, the moral demands of the Christian life—although at times they are difficult to fulfill and although they always require an effort and grace—will seem neither unreasonable nor impossible. Certainly, our fidelity to the Gospel will put us at odds with the spirit of the “present age.” Yes, we are in the world, indeed as disciples of Christ we are sent into the world, but we do not belong to the world (cf. Jn 17, 16-18). The conflict between certain values of the world and the values of the Gospel is an inescapable part of the Church’s life, just as it is an inescapable part of the life of each one of us. And it is here that we must draw on the “patience” which Saint Paul spoke to us about in the second reading. We groan inwardly as we await our salvation, in hope and with patience (cf. Rom. 8,23-25).
I have often spoken of the decline of respect for the fundamental moral values that are essential to the Christian life. Indeed, moral values are essential to the life of all human beings as free agents created in the image and likeness of God, and destined to a higher creation.
The world has largely lost respect for human life from the moment of conception. It is weak in upholding the indissoluble unity of marriage. It fails to support the stability and holiness of family life. There is a crisis of truth and responsibility in human relationships. Selfishness abounds. Sexual permissiveness and drug addiction ruin the lives of millions of human beings. International relations are fraught with tensions, often because of excessive inequalities and unjust economic, social, cultural and political structures, and because of slowness in applying the needed remedies. Underlying all of this there is often a false concept of man and his unique dignity, and a thirst for power rather than a desire to serve.
Are we Christians to agree with such a state of affairs? Are we to call this progress? Are we to shrug our shoulders and say that nothing can be done to change all this?
My brothers and sisters, the essence of our Christian vocation consists in being “light” and “salt” for the world we live in. Let us not be afraid: “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness” (Rom. 8,26).
Keep in mind that picture of Mary and the Apostles gathered together at Pentecost in Jerusalem. Remember that the same Holy Spirit who filled their minds and hearts also fills the whole Church today. And he brings us the loveliest and the most powerful gifts: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5,22).
Let us really accept the words of Jesus: “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink” (Jn. 7,37). Then we shall receive his gift: “Out of our hearts shall flow rivers of living water…. Now he said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive.” Then, in the power of the Spirit we shall become a people that prays: indeed, the Spirit himself will pray in us and for us (cf. Rom. 8,26). And we shall become a holy people.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, realize the greatness of your Christian vocation. Christ has called you out of darkness into his own wonderful light. Consider what God has done for you in Baptism, and lift up your eyes and see the final glory that awaits you.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great.
O Lord how manifold are all your works.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth” Amen
(Ps. 104,1, 24 and 30). Amen
Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, as we are born of the water and the Spirit. Baptism is necessary for salvation (John 3:5), and conveys a permanent sign that the new Christian is a child of God. Jesus himself was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9-11). The martyr St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Ephesians written about 100 AD, stated that Jesus “Christ was baptized, that by himself submitting he might purify the water.” Baptism is prefigured in the Old Testament through the saving of Noah and his family during the Flood (Genesis 7:12-23, 1 Peter 3:20-21), and Moses crossing of the Red Sea during the Exodus, leaving captivity for the Promised Land (Exodus 14:1-22).
The Greek word baptizein means to “immerse, plunge, or dip.” The infant or candidate is anointed with the oil of catechumens, followed by the parents, godparents, or candidate making the profession of faith. The essential rite of Baptism consists of the minister immersing the baby or person in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The infant or candidate is then anointed with sacred chrism.
What has taken place in Baptism is indicated by the rites that follow it, the clothing in the white garment and giving of the lighted candle: the baptized person has “put on Christ” and has now become light.
Here are three Scriptural sources in the New Testament (See also Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22; Acts 1:21-22; Romans 6:3-4; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:11-13, I Peter 3:21):
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Gospel of Matthew 28:19-20
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened
and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
and a voice came from heaven,
“Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”
Gospel of Mark 1:9-11
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit,
he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Gospel of John 3:5
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all”
First Letter of Paul to Timothy 2:5
A sacrament is an outward efficacious sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Jesus Christ himself is the sacrament, as he gave his life to save mankind. His humanity is the outward sign or the instrument of his Divinity. It is through his humanity that the life of the Trinity comes to us as grace through the sacraments. It is Jesus Christ alone who mediates the sacraments to allow grace to flow to mankind.
Christ sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to inspire his Apostles and his Church to shepherd his flock after his Ascension into heaven. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (John 17:18, 20:21). Jesus is the Head of his Body the Church (Colossians 1:18). The Church itself is a sacrament instituted by Christ to give grace. Jesus gave us his Body the Church to continue the works he performed during his earthly life. Grace given to us through the sacraments will help us lead a good life in this world and help save us for the Kingdom of Heaven.
The sacraments were instituted by Christ and were part of the Liturgical Tradition of the early Christian Church. The Church celebrates in her liturgy the Paschal mystery of Christ, his Sacrifice on the Cross, Death and Resurrection. The Greek word μυστήριον or mystery in the Greek New Testament is translated into sacramentum in the Latin Vulgate Bible, from which we derive our English word sacrament (examples: Ephesians 1:9, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:27). The saving effects of Christ’s Redemption on the Cross are communicated through the sacraments, especially in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments to this day are called mysteries in the Eastern Churches.
Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, as well as Eastern Orthodox Churches all recognize the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. The three sacraments of Christian Initiation are Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. The two sacraments of Healing are Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, and the two sacraments of Vocation are Holy Orders and Marriage. Three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, are given once, as they render a permanent seal or character upon one’s soul (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 4:30, Revelations 7:3).
The Gospel of Mark 5:25-34 describes a woman afflicted with hemorrhage who touched the cloak of Jesus and was immediately healed. There is a fourth century fresco painting in the catacomb of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter depicting this event, which serves as an apt symbol of Sacrament – the power that flows out from the body of Jesus, in order to effect both remission of sin and new life in Christ. The fresco image frames Part II of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Liturgy and the Sacraments, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery. St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, has written the standard exposition on the Seven Sacraments.
Each sacrament consists of a visible external rite, which is composed of matter and form, the matter being the action, such as the pouring of water, and the form being the words spoken by the minister. Each sacramental rite confers a special ecclesial effect and sacramental grace appropriate for each sacrament. The sacraments occur at pivotal events and give meaning to a person’s life.
The sacraments act ex opere operato, by the very fact of the action being performed, independent of the minister. The effect on the person receiving the sacrament is called ex opere operantis, and depends on the interior disposition of the receiver.
Grace is a favor, the free and undeserved gift from God through Christ Jesus, to help us respond to his call to become children of God, to become partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is a participation in the life of God and is necessary for salvation
“And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
Gospel of John 1:14
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood,
to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
through the forbearance of God –
to prove his righteousness in the present time,
that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 3:24-26
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery
of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him
as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-10