Proper disposition for reception of the Sacraments

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It is hard to believe that a year ago I began my assignment as a parochial vicar in the parishes of St Mary, St Andrew and St Theresa of Lisieux in Billerica, Massachusetts. Since then I have had the privilege and responsibility of administering the Sacraments of the Church. The Sacraments (as the Catechism reminds us) are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed.” It was because of this “divine life” that I wanted to become a priest since they are the means through which we are brought to God and the tangible way God comes to us. In each of the Sacraments Heaven kisses earth; through them divine power flows from God to us. In the Seven Sacraments we really and truly have a foretaste of the heavenly glory to come!

Because each Sacrament is a real encounter with Our Risen Lord, we need to be consciously prepared to welcome Jesus into our hearts. Being prepared to receive a Sacrament is more than just not being aware of having an unconfessed mortal sin—that’s the first step. The second is a “proper disposition” which means that we are actively engaged in the sacred action of the liturgy, that is, we are praying the liturgy intentionally so that what is happening at the altar also happens in our hearts. We manifest our internal dispositions with external actions, consciously reciting and singing, kneeling and genuflecting, standing and being silent; our bodily posture ought to represent the posture of our hearts before the Lord. The best way to ensure that we have a “proper disposition” is to arrive early for Mass so that we have a little time to recollect, to pray, and to remind ourselves of the reality of the sacred mysteries which we are about to participate in. We can also offer a small prayer of thanksgiving after Mass, a grateful reminder of Jesus’ presence and action in our lives. 

The Sacraments are celebrated in the local community of the Church, a parish, because our lives, one’s which are called to discipleship and communion, are not meant to be lived in isolation.  As the expression goes: “no man is an island!” Therefore, the more we receive the Sacraments worthily, and with the right disposition, the holier we become and the more Christ’s grace will radiate through us. Naturally, others are naturally drawn this! And so Christ’s body—especially our parishes—is strengthened. May we have more frequent recourse to the Sacraments of the Church so that we can be made ready for Heaven and the work of the New Evangelization!

1 Comment

  1. Debbie says: Reply

    We are truly blessed to have you in Billerica I truly miss going to mass every Sunday my illness has took me away but I know god is carrying me through this differcult time right now god bless

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