Continuing with the Aparecida bishops as they look at parish life, we reflect with them on the sacramental life. The parish is the first setting one usually considers. That’s not to say the home or the diocese lack a sacramental manifestation, for each certainly does. Pope Benedict made the connection between the early Christian community, idealized in Acts 2, and the active life of the local parish:
175. Following the example of the early Christian community (cf. Acts 2:46-47), the parish community gathers to break the bread of the Word and of the Eucharist and to persevere in catechesis, the sacramental life, and the practice of charity.(Benedict XVI, General Audience, Apostolic Visit to Brazil, May 23, 2007) It renews its life in Christ in the eucharistic celebration. For the parish, the Eucharist, in which the community of the disciples is strengthened, is a school of Christian life. There, together with eucharistic adoration and the practice of the sacrament of reconciliation in order to worthily approach to receive communion, its members are prepared so they can produce ongoing fruits of charity, reconciliation, and justice for the life of the world.
A summary follows:
a) The Eucharist, source and culmination of the Christian life, makes our parishes to be ever eucharistic communities that sacramentally live the encounter with Christ Savior.
They also celebrate with joy:
b) In Baptism: the incorporation of a new member into Christ and into his body which is the Church.
c) In Confirmation: the perfection of the baptismal character and strengthening of ecclesial belonging and of apostolic maturity.
d) In Penance or Reconciliation: the conversion that we all need to combat sin, which makes us inconsistent with our baptismal commitments.
e) In the Anointing of the Sick: the evangelical sense of community members who are seriously ill or in danger of death.
f) In the sacrament of Holy Orders: the gift of the apostolic ministry which continues to be exercised in the Church for the pastoral care of all the faithful.
g) In Matrimony: love of spouses which as God’s grace germinates and grows to maturity making effective in daily life the complete self-giving that they made mutually in marrying.
What do you make of these definitions/descriptions? Would you see conversion as the aim of Penance? Would you agree that the adjective “evangelical” fits for the anointing of the sick?
For a deeper look, remember to check the English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.