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Kevin Terry wrote:


I hope all is well up that way after the Pat's loss. I watched the game with my Dad. He likes Peyton Manning, and I like Brady so needless to say, I left his house, not too happy. I don't know that I've ever said this, but I think that Belichick might have gotten out coached for the first time.

In my prayer group at the Catholic Church, we usually go through The Word Among Us daily devotional. However, we have decided to take the next seven weeks, and devote each week to one of the seven Sacraments.

We are discussing the history of them, and trying to relate them to the Old Testament. We are beginning with Baptism, then we will go to Confirmation and the Eucharist. After that, I'm not sure what the order will be.

If you have any information or links for us to check out we would appreciate them. I know you are busy, so don't go out of your way. I just wanted to know if you knew of a good resource off the top of your head.



  { Do you know any good resources on the history of the Sacraments? }

Fr. Francis replied:

Dear KT,

Mike passed along your note concerning studying the Sacraments. You might want to consider holding off until you have been received into full communion with the Catholic Church, so you can enter more fully into the study of the Sacraments, the "Sacred Mysteries".

However, if the Lord is leading you to this at this moment I cannot emphasize enough the resource that has been given to Catholics — not that many years ago in its present form:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC for short]

While I am sure you have at least heard about it, I would offer some further suggestions here. These suggestions can easily be obtained through

A good translation of the whole Bible is in order. I suggest the RSV (Revised Standard Version) published by the Jesuit Ignatius Press. Do not get the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version); it is not a good translation. If you want to use the translation used in our Liturgies in the USA, get the New American Bible, (NAB). It is not the best, but it is the one authorized by the US bishops for use at Mass, etc., because it was translated under their auspices. It needs a total revamping however, in my humble opinion.

Next get a CCC. You might think of getting two. One for real study and use, and the other for more formal occasions. When I say, study, I mean underlining, writing in the margins etc. — really getting into it.

Another excellent resource is what is known as the Companion to the CCC, although it only was created for the first addition of the Catechism, not the newer second edition.

When he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict wrote a wonderful introduction into the very inner sense of the Catechism called Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church with Cardinal Schonborn. I can't stress this book enough.

Finally, Cardinal Schonborn gave the Pope's Lenten retreat several years ago to Pope John Paul the Great. That retreat was really his commentary on the CCC, and it became a book called, Loving the Church: Spiritual Exercises Preached in the Presence of Pope John Paul II.

Those are some key books. Now let me help you with really reading and praying the Catechism.

The Catechism has a fourfold structure, each based on the previous section.

The first is Faith: The Creed — "What We Believe".

The second is Liturgy and the Sacraments — "What We Celebrate".

There is a wonderful introduction to the Liturgy and Sacraments followed by teachings on each of the sacraments. Read that first section first, including all the Scripture references in the footnotes. You will see just how biblical Catholics really are. Also in the margins will be numbers. You will be tempted to avoid those. Don't! They refer to another section of the Catechism that is a teaching on the same or parallel teaching. If read in this way, it will take longer to read the CCC, but you will be really reading-reflecting-and-praying it!

By the way, I make it part of my daily discipline to read a bit of the CCC each day, using the above method!

Hope this has helped and welcome home!!! : )

Father Francis

Fr. Nick replied:

Hi Kevin,

I would do them in this order:

  1. Sacraments of Initiation

    Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation

  2. Sacraments of Healing

    (Confession or Reconciliation) and Anointing of the Sick

  3. Sacraments of Service

    Marriage and Holy Orders

Fr. Nick

Kevin replied:


Please forward on a thank you to Fr. Francis and Fr. Nick for helping with my question, as I always appreciate the help.

  • I can't help but wonder though, why Father Francis suggested that I hold off until I come into the Church, before studying the Sacraments?



Fr. Francis replied:

Dear K.T.,

Mike forwarded to me your thank you. I had forgotten to explain why I had suggested for you to wait until after your full reception into the Church to study the Sacraments.

While I am not a professor, etc., I am constantly immersed in the Fathers of the Church and the ways of the early Church. Why? Not because I think history or Tradition stopped then. I don't even think we can return to the Patristic Church, anymore than we can to the New Testament Church. After all, can any of us return to our infancy or childhood?

However, unlike the Middle Ages, in which the Church found Herself in a Christian culture throughout Europe [even if not ideal and still problematic], I find similarities by way of analogies of the Church in our own era and the Church in the times of the Church Fathers.

  • So what does this have to do with you studying the Sacraments and waiting?

The ancient practice of the Church was to catechize new members of the Church after they have experienced the Sacraments. Of course, you have received Christian Baptism. Certainly you can study — as I suggested, the first part of the CCC on general Liturgy and then Baptism, but I suggest holding off until you have experienced the other Sacraments. As a baptized Methodist entering into full communion with the Church, they would be (in this order):

  • the Sacrament of Penance
  • Rite of Entrance into Full Communion, and
  • Confirmation and the Eucharist

In light of your experience of the Eucharist you can come to a fuller understanding of what it means when we say: "The Church is Communion".

Hope that has helped a bit more. Sorry I was not as clear last night.

Again welcome home!

Father Francis

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