Three Sacraments

Yesterday I attended Mass. I can almost hear a collective yawn and a mumbled ‘So what, isn’t that what nuns are supposed to do?’ Those who are able to attend Mass whenever they want, or to whom the Mass is of no consequence, will not understand. I haven’t been able to attend Mass for a very long time, but yesterday a priest friend came and said Mass here at the monastery. Not only did we hear Mass, we were able to make our confessions, and I had the great blessing of being anointed. Three sacraments, three unique and precious ways of meeting the Lord.

To some, the very notion of sacrament is problematic; others limit their understanding to those they regard as being of Dominical origin; happily, those of us who are Catholic enjoy a much wider sense of the way in which the sacraments incarnate grace, so to say, as ‘an outward sign of inward grace’. One of the things I love about the Church is the fact that she uses ordinary, humdrum things — water, oil, bread, wine — and transforms them (and us) through the sacraments she celebrates. They anchor us in reality, in the messiness and incompleteness of life, but they also lead us into eternity, into the perfection of joy and love.

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32 thoughts on “Three Sacraments”

  1. I am so very pleased for you, sister, that you were able to attend mass. Itust have meant a great deal to you.

    Although I am a non- Catholic, my husband taught at a Catholic school and our three children attended the same school. Some of my very dearest friends were the sisters who worked there.
    I read Benedictine nuns every day, and I pray that the Lord will ease your suffering , which must be hard to bear.
    I have survived cancer so I thank God daily for that.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face to shine upon you, and give you peace.
    With sincere good wishes. Mairion.

  2. Oh, I am indeed struggling with the Sacrament of Penance – focusing on all the things I shouldn’t (the priest must think me an idiot, for one), while admonishing myself for being childish when realising what an opportunity this sacrament is (pardons for sounding opportunistic there – I mean it literally: an opportunity).

    Dear sister, you reigned me in this morning – reminding me of what its all about; grace.

  3. Thank you sister I need to hear this and more, nothing is touching me at the moment, I feel such a failure that I can’t give my sadness to God and leave it with Him.

    • It may be helpful to remember that feelings are not usually the best guide in the spiritual life. It is what we do that counts. We may feel sad, useless, unable to pray, in complete rebellion against God. The fact that you are not happy about your present state is, in itself, a kind of prayer, a calling-out to God for help. When we are in such a state, I think it is enough just to say, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ That is a prayer we can use at any moment, in any situation.

      • Thank you sister, I do know what you mean, Brian Grogan in his book ‘ Finding God in All Things’ recommends walking into the room and saying ” Hello God and that’s all your getting today” I’m going to mass this evening at my local convent.

  4. Grateful that you were able to be at Mass and receive the sacraments, Sister Catherine. Grateful that you and your community were able to experience this in your own chapel.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. What a thoughtful essay. As you know I am Orthodox but we have the same sacraments so I deeply felt the rightness of your words. Your phrase ‘an outward sign of inward grace’ especially resonated very strongly for me. While I can go to the church in town, my most joyous times are when I can catch a ride and celebrate the Mass with the sisters in our local convent. Their lives are not always easy but they always seem so full of love and joy.

  6. While I am delighted to read all of this and rejoice in my heart I am dismayed that your local priest can’t offer Mass for you. There will be good reasons I expect. Twice a year my priest comes to my house to offer Mass as well as bringing me communion every month and the blessing of a Eucharistic minister every week. I have found great comfort and joy in attending Mass through Church Service TV and my adopted parish is St Joseph and the English Martyrs. I held you both before the Blessed Sacrament this morning.

    • Thank you, and bless you! Belmont has many calls on its time, but at least I am able to share in the experience of much of the Church. We have the Blessed Sacrament in the house, but nothing can substitute for being present at Mass. When one can do so only infrequently, one has a tremendous sense of its holiness and power.

  7. The Sacraments are precious and we should feel privileged to be part of the Church(es) that celebrate them regularly.

    Although I am an Anglican, I still believe that the seven Sacraments are real, and signs of God’s infinite grace and mercy for us all – we just need to understand them as gifts which allow us to share and be part of the one body of Christ, the Church Universal.

    I am glad that you have been able to attend Mass in your own context and that a Kind Priest took the time to Celebrate Mass and provide the Opportunity for Confession for you both.

    We prayed for you today at Holy Communion as we do at each of our services, we now pray as well for my Daughter in Law, who also has a life limiting condition, and she still cares diligently for her five nearly adult children alone. And she is a Mormon, who appreciates our prayers without a quibble.

    There is so much more that I could write, but I feel that enough has been said. Bless you Dame Catherine for your great blog posts, which make us reflect on how good God is to us, and how ungrateful we can be at times for that goodness and grace.

  8. Thank you for raising our awareness of the great blessings of the Sacraments. I had a pang of sadness thinking that I have Mass and the Sacraments readily available and that you do not. Thank you for letting us know this, and so we can lift you up in prayer when we are receiving the Sacraments too.

  9. So glad to hear that your priest friend was so good to you. To bring the sacrament to someone is indeed a great privilege (and responsibility) but for those of us to whom it is of utmost importance there is no telling of the joy of receiving it. I often remember you, and Lucy, when I am at mass and pray for your need to be met. Bless that friend of yours x

  10. I’m so glad you were about to receive the Sacraments yesterday, it must be really hard not being able to get to Mass, sometimes I think we forget how lucky we are to have a daily Mass here in our chapel in Walsingham. You are kept in our prayers at Mass daily.

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