Sacramental Mystery of Grace — By Sr. Karen, OP

FREUND-KAREN-308Last Sunday at the 9:00 Mass we welcomed Benjamin Adam Samson into our faith community.  We watched parents and godparents trace the sign of the cross on Bennie’s forehead.  We heard Father say, “I claim you for Christ.”  With ritual anointing, with words and water, Bennie was launched on a journey of faith that will mature over his lifetime.

Benjamin’s baptism, and the RCIA process of our catechumens and candidates seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, remind us that our own baptism initiated us into a community.  God forms us into a church, a people peculiarly God’s own.  Lent recalls that the gift and grace of our baptism extend well beyond the moment of sacramental celebration.  Lent challenges us to continue to welcome God’s Spirit.  Will our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving lead us to be more loving?  Will it help build up the body of Christ?  Will we continue Jesus’ mission and extend the reign of God in the places our lives touch?

Because we celebrate rituals over and over, our worship can become routine. It’s easy to forget what it means to be a sacramental church.  We not only praise God, but also claim the grace to live what we believe.  Christ acts through the outward signs of our sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist), vocation (Marriage and Holy Orders), and healing (Penance and Anointing of the Sick) to provide the grace we need.

To highlight this sacramental mystery of grace, we’re delighted to welcome back Br. Edward Van Merrienboer, OP to preach this year’s Lenten Day of Reflection on Saturday, March 11. His theme is Sacred Encounters:  Living the Sacraments.  We already know Br. Edward is a good preacher and teacher from the years he served here at St. Thomas More. He has extensive experience with groups of students from primary grades to graduate school.  He has written and advised and consulted for seminaries, universities, and the National Catholic Educational Association.  He has served in provincial and international leadership within the Dominican Order.  The breadth of his travels and ministries enlivens his preaching and teaching.

Brother Edward’s retreat day begins March 11 in the MPR at 10:30 a.m., and includes time for preaching, reflection, and discussion. Lunch is at 12:30, and we will conclude by 4:00.  Child care is provided.  You’ll find further details on the website ( where you can register for this day.  Like baby Benjamin, we each started out at baptism on this great journey of faith.  Might this retreat be one of the ways Lent 2017 deepens our appreciation of how the sacraments nourish us along the way?