September 19, 2011

Scripture and Sacraments

In the section of Verbum Domini titled "The word of God, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick", the Holy Father briefly connects Scripture to the seven sacraments. He reminds us, first, that "the Eucharist certainly remains central to the relationship between God's word and the sacraments". Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, which we receive in the Eucharist. We receive the written word in the Liturgy of the Word, and we receive the living Word in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Pope Benedict also stresses "the importance of sacred Scripture in the other sacraments". "We ought never to forget that 'the word of God is a word of reconciliation, for in it God has reconciled all things to himself' (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 1:10)." While he emphasizes the Sacraments of Healing here, there are certainly scriptural connections to all of the sacraments. For example, from the Catechism we have:
  • Baptism: "Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: 'Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.'" [1213]
  • Confirmation: "This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim 'the mighty works of God...'" [1287]
  • Holy Matrimony: "Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of 'the wedding-feast of the Lamb.' Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its 'mystery,' its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal 'in the Lord' in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church." [1602]
  • Holy Orders: "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: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry." [1536]
The Holy Father encourages us, also, "to prepare for confession by meditating on a suitable text of sacred Scripture". A quick search found some good suggestions. In his article "Preparing for Confession: Thinking Outside the Box", Gerald Korson highlights Jesus' words on adultery in Matthew 5:27-28 and the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25). The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference of Bishops' document, A Guide to the Sacrament of Penance, also provides numerous Scripture and Catechism references.

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