I love old Western movies! There is one particular movie called, "The Magnificent Seven" (starring great actors such as Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen). The jist of the movie is a band of mean, unfair dudes steal the crops and money from a poor, small Mexican village. Some of the villagers decide to hire some gun slingers to teach them to defend themselves and fight off the bad dudes. It is a classic western movie with the typical horse riding and "shoot-em'-up" scenes. The gun slingers are the "magnificent seven." So the other day, I was in class, and my mind began to wander and I started thinking about this movie (ex. "Hhmm, haven't seen that one in awhile, maybe I can rent it this weekend"). Then, something struck me...the Holy Spirit hit me with over the head with a heavenly two by four piece of wood. In our Catholic tradition, the 7 Sacraments are like the eqvuilancy of the the Magnificent 7 gun slingers who saved and protected the little Mexican village. I was pretty excited by making a connection from a western movie to my faith :-)
So, as much as I enjoy this movie, the true "magnificent 7" (AKA the Sacraments) are a ba-zillion times better and more important because they give us grace to live holy lives and help us get our sorry butts to Heaven. When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He told the Apostles that he would always be with them until the end of time. Until the second coming, we have the 7 sacraments in our Church to nurture and sustain us in a life of grace. It is like spiritual dynamite!
-Baptism. Baptism is like the "Welcome committee" into God's family :-) Because each of us carries the sin of our first parents (Adam and Eve) each of us needs that removed. Jesus told the disciples, unless you are born of the water and spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom of God. Hey, if it was good enough for Jesus to get baptized (and didn't really need it) then how much more do each us need Baptism?!?!?!?!? The water poured on one's head symbolizes the spiritual re-birth and official welcoming into the family of God and the Church. Sometimes folks wonder why infants have to be baptized. Check out the following Scripture verses: John 3:5/Mak 16:16, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:15, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, and 1 Cor 1:16....Jesus said it, the words are in the Bible, and our tradition has practiced it from the beginning.
-Confession/Reconciliation. Seriously, this is the bomb diggity of sacraments. Jesus gives us the opportunity to come and reconcile our sinful habits and patterns through his grace and love. He LOVES us so much, he doesn't want us to live our lives constantly burdened and bogged down by negativity and sin. Jesus knows we will mess up, but that's okay! He wants us to run to Him like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son; the father see's his long-lost son, and like speedy gonzalez runs to embrace his child. There is no sin to big for God to handle. And though you are confessing your sins to a priest, it is not like you are talking to the priest, but it is really Jesus you encounter through the presence of Fr. Joe or Fr. whomever. Scripture verse that relate, include: Matthew 9:2-8, John 20:23, 2 Cor 5: 17-20, James 5:13-15, Matthew 18:18, and 1 John 5:16. There is also an earlier post about Confession for your reading enjoyment as well :-)
-Holy Eucharist. If Confession is the bomb diggity of the sacraments, then the Holy Eucharist is like the Atmoic Bomb of the sacraments. Jesus gave us his own body and blood to eat and remember and love him until He comes again in the second coming; hate to break it to ya folks, but it is NOT a symbol of Jesus. The wine is truly transformed into Jesus' blood, the very blood he shed on the cross for us. The bread is truly transformed into the flesh of Jesus, the same body that died and rose for us. Is that hard to grasp? YOU'd BETTER BELIEVE IT! But remember faith is a gift, and even when Jesus first explained it to the disciples many years ago, some walked away because they didn't have faith to believe this. The Holy Eucharist is Heavenly food; and we need it to stay spiritually strong and close to Jesus Christ. Still unsrue, if you struggle with this read CHAPTER 6 of JOHN, it's all in there. Also see: 1 Cor 10:16, 1 Cor 11:23-29, Ex 12:8,46, John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, and 1 Cor 2:14--3:4. Jesus' presence in the Eucharist is the bestest thing about being Catholic!
Stay tuned to hear the rest about the "Magnficent 7" ...