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Sacrament: the Visible Sign of God

By Marcela Jiménez

In the past two editions, we have seen part of what the term Sacrament means as a visible sign. Today we will address some difficulties involved in understanding this visible sign.

It turns out that unlike the visible traffic light signal, we do freely submit to the discipline of learning the driving manual and that is why we know the meaning of these symbols. On the other hand, in the sacramental sign, the opposite thing happens. We have no idea if there is a manual that contains the meaning of those visible signs of God, and in which are the laws that govern our daily moral life. It is precisely in this manual where the basic requirements are to be able to receive those visible signs of God. So, before celebrating any sacrament or participating in them, the first question I must ask myself is: Do I know and understand the signs that I will receive or of which I will participate? The answer is simple. In order to understand that visible sign of God, I have to know the manual. I have to study it and see if I have already passed the theoretical and practical tests in order to receive the instrument of salvation, the sacrament. There is a common manual for all the sacraments. It is the Holy Scripture, accompanied by the Sacred Tradition.

Any person who is going to receive any sacrament must have at least received an introduction to the Holy Scriptures for this is our manual, and it must be studied to really understand the deep message of God which is within the celebration of his visible sign. When I start questioning fathers and mothers in my pre-sacramental classes about how much they know about the manual of the Holy Scriptures, they all look at each other, and when someone raises his or her hand, he or she almost always say something incoherent or far from what I am asking.

Then, in my pre-baptismal classes, I address the question to godparents to see how much they know about the manual that contains the laws of the sacrament for which they will commit themselves. The answer is the same as that of the parents. So, I ask you the question. How will it be possible to guide or set a good example for your goddaughter without knowing, studying, understanding and practicing the laws of the manual of the Holy Scriptures? And it is here that many dilemmas begin since most Catholics baptized do not know the laws of our sacramental manual.

They do not know the Holy Scriptures. So, how are we going to be able to manage our lives morally well if we don’t know the laws found in the Holy Scriptures? It is impossible. I believe that it is, today more than ever, important to return to the foundations of our Christian faith, to the foundations of the Early Church, to receive that Gospel of Freedom, the Good News of Salvation. That Gospel of Mercy and of the Kingdom of God that the first disciples of Christ faithfully transmitted to us with the example of their lives.

With all of the above, it is evident that we urgently need to immerse ourselves in the Holy Scriptures to continue witnessing the continuity of our Sacred Tradition, which is palpable in the development of our Church’s history in all its dimensions. Starting from the oasis of Pentecost to the present day.

There is a big difference between the vehicle driving manual and the manual that contains all the laws that govern our moral conduct, the Holy Scriptures; hence, the need to study the Bible with the help of those Christians who have already gone through a systematic structural introductory study and who put it into practice in their daily lives. Christians who fulfill the main laws of the Decalogue and the most important one that Jesus left us; that of loving each other as He has loved us. A love that must be reflected in the service to others, especially in the service to the most vulnerable and marginalized of our ecclesial and social community.

Only by knowing and practicing the manual of the Holy Scriptures, we will be able to understand the visible signs of God that we receive or of those who participate, such as our Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. When the participants in my pre-sacramental talks become aware of this reality, that they do not know the manual of the Holy Scriptures that contains the laws of God; then the desire to know the Bible is born in them, and it is my hope that this desire will be enlarged in them and that they will constantly be satisfied with the sources of salvation by understanding the laws contained in the bible; especially that of love and mercy, since these lead us to celebrate with spiritual joy each sacrament.

A joyful celebration that is reflected in our conversion, in our life change. This change of life has to be the main purpose of celebrating the visible signs of God. We are aware that knowing the Holy Scriptures, we carry out the fulfillment of God’s will be contained in his saving message.

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