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Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives


Sacraments Index

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Understanding the Sacraments
In the two millennia of the Church's history, it has always been some aspect of the sacraments which has been challenged or denied by those who then separated themselves from Catholic unity.
The Sacraments: Divine Channels of Grace
This is also part of the crisis in the Christian world today. There are those who still believe that Christ instituted seven channels of His grace, and those who may use the word "sacrament" but no longer believe either in the sacraments as communicators of grace or the Church's authority over the sacraments. We may even say that the future of Christianity depends on professed Christians understanding — and I mean understanding — the necessity of the sacraments for reaching eternal life.
The Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation
From the dawn of Christian history, Baptism and Confirmation have been very closely associated. To this day, Catholics belonging to the Eastern rite receive both sacraments in infancy. Pope St. Leo I makes this relationship very clear. He compares the natural life of our bodies with the supernatural life of our souls. Baptism, he says, corresponds to our bodily birth. Confirmation corresponds to our bodily growth.
Assigned Penance in the Sacrament of Confession
According to the Church’s Code of Canon Law, "the confessor is to enjoin salutary and suitable penances in keeping with the quality and number of the sins, but with attention to the condition of the penitent; the penitent is obliged to perform the penances personally" (Canon 98).
Examination of Conscience
If there is one part of the spiritual life that St. Ignatius stressed, it was the daily — and even twice daily — examination of conscience. It is very important, therefore, that we form a clear and correct conscience. This means that we cultivate a sensitive judgment which is alert to the least offense against the Divine will and, at the same time, protect ourselves against the wiles of the evil spirit.
Penance, The Sacrament of Forgiveness and Peace
During his first visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II pleaded with the bishops to do something about the drastic drop in confessions in many American dioceses. "In the face of a widespread phenomenon of our time, namely that many of our people who are among the great numbers who receive Communion make little use of confession, we must emphasize Christ's basic call to conversion. We must also stress that the personal encounter with the forgiving Jesus in the sacrament of Reconciliation is a divine means which keeps alive in our hearts and in our communities, a consciousness of sin in its perennial and tragic reality, and which actually brings forth, by the action of Jesus and the power of His Spirit, fruits of conversion in justice and holiness of life (Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the United States, October 5, 1979)."
Anointing, The Sacrament of Healing and Mercy
The sacrament of Anointing is the new name given by the Second Vatican Council to the sacrament of Extreme Unction. As might be expected, all the founders of Protestantism denied that Christ instituted this sacrament. At most, they would admit that Anointing of the Sick was a charism of bodily healing. That is why the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century issued no less than four infallible declarations defining both Christ’s institution of Anointing and its three-fold purpose of conferring grace, remitting sin, and giving strength of body and soul to the sick who receive this sacrament.
Baptism, the Sacrament of Regeneration and the Supernatural Life
Baptism is not only the first of the seven sacraments; it is also the basic sacrament. How? Unless a person is baptized, none of the other six sacraments can be received. Only a baptized person can be confirmed. Only a baptized person can receive absolution in the sacrament of Confession. Only a baptized person can receive the sacrament of Matrimony. Only a baptized man can be validly ordained a priest.
Eucharist as Presence - Sacrament
…The Mass and Holy Communion derive all their meaning from the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament…We shall draw on the irreversible teaching of the Council of Trent about the Real Presence.
The Eucharist as Communion Sacrament
"We will reflect on the meaning of the Holy Eucharist as a channel of grace and how Holy Communion is a means of obtaining supernatural sustenance for the divine life we received at Baptism." In addition, Fr. Hardon explains how to become an Apostle of Holy Communion.
Holy Orders - A Channel of Grace
Among the sacraments, none is more distinctively Catholic than the sacrament of Order. The plural, Orders, is commonly used because there are three levels of this one sacrament, namely the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate.
The Priesthood and the Eucharist
The priesthood in the Catholic Church is identified with many things because over the centuries in the Church's history there have been priests engaged in a variety, a bewildering array of enterprises. The main reason he has been ordained is because of the Eucharist. So true is this that if we would specify the heart of the priesthood we would have to say it is the Eucharist: the Eucharist as Presence, and the Eucharist as Sacrifice.
Class for Children - Baptism and Confession
Now when you are baptized, who knows, what’s the first thing that happens to you when you were baptized? What happens when you’re baptized? (Answer not clear, explaining what happens during baptism.) OK, but what happens inside? ("You become, you become the child of God.") OK. You become a child of God. We become children of God when we are baptized. Now what does that mean?
The Holy Eucharist as Sacrifice Sacrament
Our present conference is on the Sacrifice Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The language may seem a bit strange. It was, however, our present Holy Father who distinguished the Holy Eucharist as a sacrament three times over. The Holy Eucharist is a present sacrament, a communion sacrament, and a sacrifice sacrament. One reason for this conference is to clarify what I’m afraid in many Catholic’s minds is obscured.
Sacrament of Matrimony
I think the best place to begin an immense subject, is to ask ourselves, why did Christ when He came into the world institute the Sacrament of Matrimony? After all, marriage itself was already instituted by God at the dawn of human history. Evidently, there must have been a profound reason, and in plain language the reason was because it was necessary.
Sacramental Life Assures Eternal Life
The most important word we have to explain in the title of this conference on "Sacramental Life Assures Eternal Life" is the word life. We cannot begin to talk about the sacraments unless we first understand that there are two forms of life.
Why Christ Instituted the Sacrament of Confession
No words can describe the importance of the sacrament of Penance in the Catholic Church. Christ instituted the Sacrament to give us a ready and assured means of obtaining the remission of our sins committed after baptism. We must say that this sacrament was the first gift to the Church on Easter Sunday night.
The Holy Eucharist as Communion and Sacrament
Our conference this evening is on the Eucharist as communion and sacrament. There is generally no difficulty in speaking about the Eucharist as Sacrament. In fact, that’s the way most Catholics understand the Eucharist. However, our focus is more specific. We wish to explore how the Holy Eucharist is a sacrament three times over as present sacrament, as communion sacrament, and as sacrifice sacrament. Tonight’s focus is on the Holy Eucharist as communion sacrament.
Sacrament of Matrimony - Introduction
Christian marriage is that sacrament in which two marriageable people of different sexes associate in an undivided life communion by mutual agreement for the generation and education of offspring and in which they receive grace for the fulfillment of the special duties of their state.

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