(aka: AHA! Moment)
The Catholic Sacraments
The traditional definition of a sacrament is this: "A sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace." Within this definition there are three important statements:
- A visible sign An action is performed by a minister (usually a priest).
For example, when a baby is baptized in the church the priest pours
water over its head and at the same time says the words "I baptize
you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
That is a visible sign.
- Instituted by Christ The Lord Jesus Christ instructed His church to offer the seven
sacraments to His followers. For example, His directive to His
disciples in Matthew's Gospel (28/19), "Go then, to all peoples
everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name
of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey
everything I have commanded you."
- To give grace Grace is God's free gift of Himself as the controlling influence in
our life and the decisions we make once we have committed ourselves
to Him in faith.
In summary, a sacrament is one of the means God has chosen to influence our life in the direction of his purpose for giving us life.
The seven sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
(The above excerpt was copied from this website: http://www.stclementcincinnati.org/FaithFormation/The7CatholicSacraments.aspx. It is being used only to give explanation of the Seven Holy Sacraments of the Catholic faith. I am not claiming it as my own writing in no means, way, or fashion.)
Today, I had a revelation. But first, some history.
This December, I should be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary. But I will not be. It has been a bit puzzling to me the past year and half, as to why I won't be celebrating any more wedding anniversaries with the father of my youngest child...
When I met him, he informed me he was Catholic, then he watched my face. I am sure my face did not change with this knowledge, for I had very little understanding of the Catholic faith. When he saw I did not grimace, faint or scream, he continued on with his courtship.
I had always heard, all my life, not to marry 'outside of your faith'. To the best of my knowledge at the time, I was Baptist, as I was essentially un-churched. Oh, I had attended church. I was FULL ON Christian, as I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior early on. I had been baptized too. In a church. A Baptist church. When our courtship turned into an engagement of sorts, I did have my reservations. But honestly, he was so much more religious than I was, and he was so much more devoted to God and so much more knowledgeable about the Bible than I was, I couldn't see anything wrong with us being married. We did, as far as I was concerned, worship the same God. Just maybe a little differently. In fact, the only thing that seemed different was that he not only prayed to God, but he could also call on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Early on in our marriage, I learned about the Seven Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church. He told me these were things he learned about and had drilled into his head during his 12 years of a private Catholic school student. He said of all things he learned about in his faith, the Seven Sacraments were the things he felt most led to follow. Especially holy sanctity of marriage. (He also did not believe in abortion, but he definitely believed in birth control!) I bought a children's book about the Sacraments, as to have more understanding of what my husband believed.
From this little book with it's colorful drawings that appealed to young children, and from my husband's own mouth, I learned that marriage is held in the highest esteem (for lack of a better word) in the Catholic world.
All love comes from God, and all love reflects the love that God has for His creation. The Sacrament of Marriage is, first and foremost, a sign and symbol of this love. Marriage is a sacrament of the self-giving love which two people offer to each other. The love which a couple have for each other mirrors the love God has for men and women.
The minister of the Sacrament of Marriage is the couple themselves. The priest serves as a witness.
The joy and mutual support of married love can be a source of strength which enables married people to serve others in a very powerful way. It should spill out to their children and to those around them and become a source of life, hope and comfort for others. This is reflected in the blessing which the priest often gives the newly-married couples, saying:
"May you always bear witness to the love of God in this world, so that the afflicted and the needy will find in you generous friends and welcome you into the joys of Heaven."
Again, this is borrowed from the website http://www.stclementcincinnati.org/FaithFormation/The7CatholicSacraments.aspx. It is being used only to give explanation of the Seven Holy Sacraments of the Catholic faith. I am not claiming it as my own writing in no means, way, or fashion.)
Therefore, one can only imagine the confusion, disappointment, and heartbreak I felt when I learned my marriage to this man would fail. Yes, many times over the years, I did want to divorce. Yes, there were times I thought if I could only run away and not look back. But every time we had challenges, we overcame them. I thought we always would. I thought, I am married to a man where divorce is not an option. Maybe that was part of the problem. I thought no matter what sin I committed, or he committed, divorce was not an option. But there it was.
Hindsight is 20/20. Heard that saying before? Well, as Paul Harvey would have said, here's the rest of the story...
About a year or more before I knew our marriage was seriously endangered, my husband ventured out into the world of 'faith other than that of Catholicism' . He went to a Christmas service at 'my' church, a Methodist church. He began to listen to Joel Osteen, the televangelist. I can honestly admit, I was tickled pink! I would walk through my living room and he would be on his stationary bike, pedaling like a mad-man, and listening to Joel Osteen preach! I was amazed by this, because he has always been very critical of the Baptist church. But now he had CD's of this man's sermons, offering them to me to listen to.
One night I overheard Joel stating that a man should love and honor his wife, and show her in different ways how he loves her. I stopped and asked my husband, 'When exactly are you going to start doing these things you are hearing in these sermons?' I was joking with him, and he joked back.
In one discussion about his listening to Joel Osteen, I asked my husband, 'Why would a Catholic man listen to him?" He stated, "I am not sure I am still Catholic". He had told me from the day I knew he was Catholic, that he was not a practicing Catholic. He also told me that he had not always agreed with every single teaching of the Catholic religion he had received in church or Catholic school. And now, it seemed he may be doubting his Catholic 'religion' and was ready to broaden his faith horizons.
Now....the Revelation. The AHA! moment I had today...If you are no longer 'Catholic', perhaps you no longer have to believe, or at least, no longer have to uphold The Seven Holy Sacraments of the Catholic faith. Including the one of matrimony.
Well, that explains that.