Till Christ Be Formed in Every Heart



Paschal Mystery: Engine of Sacraments, Source of Faith

I want to shift your approach to evangelization rather than simply catechesis within the context of sacramental preparation. The greatest catechetical tragedy today is the lack of connecting the Paschal mystery of Christ to the sacraments and to daily life. This disconnect between Cross and Altar robs the Cross of its permanence and the Altar of its efficacy. The Paschal mystery is the form of the kerygma and the engine of the sacraments, and thus is the source of each sacrament.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church introduces the Sacraments with “Chapter One: The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church” and within this chapter the two articles are “The Liturgy – the Work of the Trinity” and “The Paschal Mystery in the Church’s Sacraments.” What God has been up in salvation history and what Jesus did 2,000 years ago are made manifest in the liturgy today, offered to all who have faith. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in paragraph #1085:

In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. During his earthly life Jesus announced his Paschal mystery by his teaching and anticipated it by his actions. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father “once for all” (Heb 7:27). His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is - all that he did and suffered for all men - participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.
— CCC #1085

Evangelization itself is tied to the sacramental economy and cannot be separated! The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 makes clear that the aim of the sacraments is to make disciples. As Paragraph #1122 states: 

…”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize, because the sacrament is prepared for by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to this word.
— CCC #1122

This assent of faith, which is the goal of proclamation, is required to receive the sacraments. This living faith must be at the heart of our reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Preaching the Gospel and teaching the Sacraments are held together through the Paschal mystery of Jesus. His life, death and resurrection is the Gospel and the Sacraments are our living participation in that mystery. 

Without faith, even the size of a mustard seed, there can be no grace conferred. The objective reality of the Sacrament is lost due to subjective disposition of the recipient, for “the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them” (CCC #1128). The good seed falls upon bad soil. This is why we must pivot our sacramental preparation to focus overwhelmingly on the person and deeds of Jesus. The preaching of the Gospel and the repentance and conversion that follows is the necessary precondition to sacramental reception. So why are we not doing this?

God love you!