Sacraments- Mayer Study Guide

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What are the six elements that all religious traditions share in common?

Religious Experience
Religious Beliefs and Teachings
Sacred Stories/Myths
Ritual and Worship
Religious Communities
Sacred Entities

Sacramental Awareness

allows us to see/appreciate God in the word

Sacramental Dullness

inability to perceive the sacred in the world

Reasons for Sacramental Dullness

1. People are too busy
2. Too much pain/suffering in the world
3. People don't know what/where to look for

Cure for sacramental dullness

taking a second, closer look to see if we might have missed the sacred


the creative, sustaining, and transforming self-gift of God that is always being offered to us

Flesh/Blood Communication

We communicate what is going on in the inside by physical gestures and actions- body language

Examples of God's body language in Bible

Moses sees God in Burning Bush, Samuel sees God in a Dream, Elijah; in a gentle breeze

Examples of God's body language today

The evergreen tree that sheltered the Israelites exists
Rain still brings new life to parched lands
Strangers still cross our paths and become friends

God Speaking Through Our Friendships

-We experience Gd's love/concern through our relationships with other people
-Friendships sustain, nourish, and keep us human.
-Our personal friendships reveal God's friendship

Two necessary skills for sacramental awareness

Listening and Responding to God

Symbol vs. Sign

-Symbols may have more than one meaning
-What symbols stand for is connected to what they are
-Symbols evoke more than one kind of response from us

Cultural Symbols

tied to the situation the symbol is used in; outside of that situation, a cultural symbol changes or loses meaning

Universal Symbols

not tied to a specific situation, group, or place; understood differently within other cultures

Symbols from natural world

water, tree, fire, wind

Literal Thinking (That's All There Is)

-considering something at face value
-closes door to the possibility of deeper significance
-often necessary

Symbolic Thinking (There's more than meets the eye)

-considering something in relation to all other things and as having meaning at many levels
-helps us discover the specialness of all things
-necessary for celebrating sacraments


Symbolic actions that help us concretely, or physically, express our beliefs, values, and deepest concerns

Examples of Rituals

handshake, waving, sign of the cross, consecration of a pope, Olympic Games, celebration of nation's founding

Ritual vs. Routine

Routines are one-dimensional in meaning, whereas rituals have deeper, multilevel meanings

Rituals and Play

-Rituals are often playful activities
-Rituals are not done solely for physical/practical results
-enable us to pause from our daily routine

Eight Characteristics of Rituals

Movements/Gestures with Meaning
Repeated Actions
Symbolic Celebrations
Important Events
Significant Words
Linkages to the Past
Communal Actions
Participation, Not Observation

Paschal Mystery

events encompassing Jesus Christ's death, resurrection, ascension to the Father, and sending of the Holy Spirit on his followers

Message of Jesus' Resurrection

The message that God is with us, even in our suffering, is incomplete without the resurrection. Jesus' resurrection lets us know that God turns all kinds of suffering into a grace filled opportunity for new life.

Jesus as True God and True Human

In its both/and vision, the church declares that God is both fully God and fully human.

Who is the Church?

Three images of the church help us understand that the church is more than the building in which people worship: People of God, Body of Christ, and Temple of the Holy Spirit

The Sacraments as Efficacious

The sacraments are capable of effecting change in us and the world- because of God's power


inner attitude and readiness for a particular sacrament

Who takes the initiative in Baptism?


Water: Cleansing and Life-Giving

pouring water over head; immersing person in water
water is necessary for survival
God breathing on the waters to bring order to Creation
Noah's ark
God provides water to Israelites
Jesus baptized in Jordan River
symbolizes being cleansed of sin and moving on to new life

Oil: Healing, Strengthening, and Being Chosen

Oil is used to anoint a person during Baptism
asking God for strength
being chosen and anointed like Christ

White Garment: Becoming a New Creation

symbolizes radical newness of life in Christ

Lit Candle: Sharing in the light of Christ

Light dispels darkness; guides the lost; wards off danger
the newly baptized person shares in the light of Christ, the hope and warmth of the world, and is encouraged to walk as a child of the light

Original Sin

a built-in weakness, a penchant for making shortsighted and often self serving choices over generous and wise choices

origins of RCIA

Since 1972, an official process of initiating adults into the Catholic Faith has bern used, and it is modeled after the process used by the early church to initiate new members

Permanent Character of Baptism

Baptism can only be received once because its effect is permanent. Baptisms that take place in other Christian churches are recognized as valid sacrament.


After the Easter Vigil Baptisms and the Easter Eucharist, the new Christians would go through another period of study and intense involvement with the community as they learned more about the mysteries of the faith

Historical Roots of Confirmation

Originally celebrated as a part of the early church's initiation ritual, which included Baptism and the Eucharist, Confirmation later developed into a separate sacrament

Growth in the Spirit

Through the sacrament of Confirmation, the church affirms that growth in the Spirit is a continuing, life-long journey

Seven Gifts of the Spirit

Right Judgement
Wonder and Awe in God's presence

Two Models of Maturity

Destination Model: We travel through adolescence until one day we arrive at our destination-maturity as an adult
Journey Model: life is a continuous process of growth, filled from start to finish with peaks and valleys

Catholic Understanding of Full Initiation

Receiving the Eucharist for the first time is a great personal event, and it plunges the Christian more deeply into the paschal mystery. The Eucharist differs from Baptism/Confirmation because it serves as a source of frequent nourishment.

Meaning of Eucharist

thanksgiving (Greek)
Bread has been sent to nourish us; daily reminder of God's love

Meaning of Mass

derived from the latin word missa, one of the parting words of the priest in latin-Ite, missa est, meaning Go, you are sent forth


the bread and wine truly transform into the body and blood of Jesus in a way that surpasses human understanding

How Christ is Present in the Eucharist

1. in the person administering the Eucharist-the presiding priest
2. in the word of God, the Scriptures
3. in the gathered people
4. especially in the eucharistic species- bread and wine

The Challenge of the Eucharist

Becoming What You Receive
A Mirror of Everyday Life
Looking at Reality
Bread for a Hungry World


The action of Christ, through the priest's saying the words, to change the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood, by the power of the Holy Spirit

Liturgy of the Word

the proclamation of the word of God in the Scriptures

Liturgy of the Eucharist

the outpouring of thanks to God that includes the consecration and sharing of the bread and wine in which Christ is present


love feast

Medieval Changes to Eucharist

Elaborate Ceremony
Less of a Role for People
Worship from a Distance
Unfamiliar Language
Presence of God Revealed

Vatican II Liturgical Changes

altar faces congregation
vernacular language
prayers/responses were spoken by everyone
altar rail removed
no more kneeling for communion
communion bread in hands
Communion wine for everyone
Everyone was allowed to sing
Prayers of Petition
Laypeople were invited to be lectors, eucharistic ministers


derived from the same roots as repent-to be sorry


literally means coming back together

Examination of Conscience

To get in touch with where we need both forgiveness and renewal, we can periodically make an examination of conscience, a review of recent personal events using a series of questions about how well we have responded to God's call to love

Personal Sin

actions, thoughts, words, or deeds that alienate from ourselves, other persons, and God

Conversion and the Prodigal Son parable

demonstrates God's unconditional, all-embracing forgiveness of those who wander away

Role of intention in penance

Although doing a penance can indicate the sincerity of a person's sorrow for sin, his or her intention to not commit the sin is crucial. Without that intention, his or her participation in the sacrament is not genuine.

Role of the priest in Reconciliation

opportunity to confess our wrongdoing before someone who represents God and the entire community-a priest- and to hear the words of forgiveness given on their behalf

Message of Jesus' healing actions

Working through him, God's power enabled Jesus to heal people and to work so many wonders. Jesus in action was God in action through him, touching people's lives even at their most painful moments and restoring people to the fullness of life

Anointing as healing the whole person

Most illnesses are psychosomatic in the sense that they are more than just physical conditions. The sacrament does address the physical but the primary emphasis of Anointing is to bring spiritual strength and healing to sick and dying people

Christians as "wounded healers

The Christian Community is meant to serve as wounded healers-People touched by pain who still offer healing to others.

When is Anointing of the Sick received?

dying persons
nonterminally ill persons

Essential rite of the sacrament

anointing by the priest of the person's forehead and hands while praying these words:
Through this holy anointing
may the Lord in his love and mercy
help you

Mutual self-giving

A husband and wife reveal God to themselves and those around them through their own love for each other. The gift of self in marriage must be freely given. That freedom enables a couple to move from I to We.

Covenantal faithfulness

A covenant is a solemn promise between two parties. Marriage is though of as holding the man and women to certain obligations and conferring on them certain rights.

Meaning of sex in marriage

Sex is only intended for marriage because it embodies the total sharing of a whole committed life together.


The point of marriage is not to begin and end with the couple. Love must be shared with others or it will become stagnant. The statement "we care for each other" needs to become "we care for others too."

Children as a Blessing

The intention to have kids is central to marriage- the church does not permit a sacramental marriage if they are not open to children

divorce vs. annulment

A divorce dissolves a marriage that once existed whereas an annulment declares that a valid marriage never existed

Primary Symbols of Matrimony


Priesthood of all believers

Every christian can minister in a priestly role, a prophetic role, and a servant leader role.

Priest, prophet, servant-leader

Three roles of Jesus

Three Catholic orders

Bishop, priests, and deacons

Purpose of clerical celibacy

The total gift of self to another implied by marriage and sex is reserved for God alone and for the service of God's reign

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