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Sacraments at the service of communion

Holy Orders and Matrimony: These sacraments of vocation exist to bring about the salvation of others

Published: November 15, 2008   
Bob Ocken
Bishop J. Peter Sartain lays hands on T. J. Hart, ordaining him a priest at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock June 30, 2007.

While the sacraments of initiation and healing focus on an individual's continued conversion and renewal, empowering one to spread the Good News to others, the sacraments of holy orders and matrimony are specifically "directed towards the salvation of others."

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so." These sacraments at the service of communion "confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God." (no. 1534)

One must have already received the sacraments of initiation in order to receive these distinct consecrations, which are lifelong vocations, each unique in their mission and purpose. (no. 1535)

Holy orders "is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his Apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time." This sacrament of apostolic ministry has three degrees called bishops, priests and deacons. (no. 1536)

Through holy orders the clergy "help accomplish Christ's task here on earth to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, to bring Christ's Body and Blood to his people; to bring others to Christ," said Father Matt Garrison, pastor of St. Mary Church in Paragould. "There are a lot of things we can try to do, but none of it can be done without God working through us."

Like holy orders, the fruits of marriage bring people to God.

Deacon Bo McAllister, chancellor of canonical affairs for the Diocese of Little Rock, said when he prepares engaged couples for marriage through his parish, he tells them "once they get married, their primary job is to get their spouse to heaven."

Through self-giving, he said, spouses are lifted up. By giving and receiving this gift couples become better people as they grow closer to God.

The catechism says "the sacrament of matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church ..." The grace of this sacrament "perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life." (no. 1661)


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