RP 2: Rooted in Baptism and Eucharist

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What is the relationship between penance and the other sacraments? The Rite of Penance suggests a close link with the grace of forgiveness received in baptism:

2. This victory is first brought to light in baptism where our fallen nature is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin may be destroyed and we may no longer be slaves to sin, but rise with Christ and live for God. [See Rom 6:4-10.] For this reason the Church proclaims its faith in “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”

The Eucharist also reminds us of the salvific ministry of Christ:

In the sacrifice of the Mass the passion of Christ is again made present; his body given for us and his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins are offered to God again by the Church for the salvation of the world. For in the Eucharist Christ is present and is offered as “the sacrifice which has made our peace” [See RM, Eucharistic Prayer III.] with God and in order that “we may be brought together in unity” [See RM, Eucharistic Prayer II.] by his Holy Spirit.

Through the service of those in Holy Orders, the members of the Church experience the grace of reconciliation:

Furthermore, our Savior Jesus Christ, when he gave to his apostles and their successors power to forgive sins, instituted in his Church the sacrament of penance, Its purpose is that the faithful who fall into sin after baptism may be reconciled with God through the restoration of grace. [See Council of Trent, sess. 14, De sacramento Paenitentiae cap. 1: Denz-Schon 1668 and 1670; can. 1: Denz-Schon 1701.] The Church “possesses both water and tears: the water of baptism, the tears of penance.” [Ambrose, Ep. 41, 12: PL 16,1116.]

As Liam suggested earlier, the Paschal Mystery is the foundation for this sacrament. Penance also relates closely to others aspects of the ministry of Christ’s presence. This root in Christ and connection with the other sacraments, especially Baptism and Eucharist, will be important to keep in mind.

Any comments?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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9 Responses to RP 2: Rooted in Baptism and Eucharist

  1. talmida says:

    I hope it goes on to discuss the connection between the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Healing. That was an eye-opener for me.

  2. Darwin says:

    Sacrament of healing?

  3. Liam says:

    Darwin

    RP 1 refers to Christ’s use of healing as a demonstration of forgiveness as well, thus linking the Sacrament of the Sick.

  4. Darwin says:

    Doh!

    I got the sin/illness metaphore, but missed the Sacrament of the Sick reference, since I tend to think of it as “Last Rites” or “Exreme Unction”. The difficulties of intentionally using a divergent vocabulary…

  5. Liam says:

    One of the happier reforms of Vatican II, in my opinion, though there are still people out there who dread the sight of the priest in sickbed areas, but I digress.

  6. Certainly a happy revision in terms of not holding off on using it until death seems certain. (Though one of the parishes I grew up in went to far by administering it to everyone, communion fashion, four times a year.) I just like the old names, though not necessarily the old practice, better.

    And I guess “Sacrament of Healing” wouldn’t have occured to me for the rather plainspoken reason that those loved ones of mine who have received it were doubtless blessed, but were certainly not healed in the more earthly sense. Non mea voluntas sed tua fiat, I guess.

  7. Liam says:

    Exactly. The Catholic notion of healing has always privileged spiritual over physical healing – all those crutches at certain shrines notwithstanding, the Church has only blessed such cults as tend towards spiritual healing first and foremost.

    I was in a community where the sacrament was offered monthly between Masses to those who were met the conditions of the ritual itself (which are, in an interesting quirk, broader than those described in canon law on the subject – eligible illness is not merely physical, btw, something many people and priests overlook to their loss).

  8. The relationship between confession and baptism is something I tend to emphasize — the same with confirmation.

    When I first became pastor, I tried lighting the baptismal candle during penance services, even when merely hearing confessions. Later, I read something in the rubrics that led me to stop doing that, but I would be interested to see some further development of the liturgy of penance services — now so fluid — in this direction.

  9. talmida says:

    Last year an RCIA instructor pointed out that just as the Sacrament of Healing may not heal one instantly, but rather strengthen us for the fight, so too does Reconciliation. It not only forgives sin, but it gives us what we need to fight and resist sin. That really changed the way I looked at the sacrament and helped me approach it in a better way (and more frequently).

    When I considered Reconciliation as a CURE for sin, a way to STOP sinning, to become stronger and acquire the grace to resist sin, the Sacrament became much more attractive (in the sense of being drawn to it).

    I’ve received the Sacrament of Healing twice, by the way (and have never been close to dying): once in a group setting, once on my own. Both experiences were very powerful, and “worked” if that’s the right word. The first Healing (in a group penitential service for the elderly which I attended with my mother) gave me the strength to finally break a 30-year addiction to cigarettes. The second Healing (just me and a priest and the Blessed Sacrament this last summer) made major surgery & recovery a piece of cake.

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