Over the next ten days our parish will celebrate two Sacraments for our young people. On Saturday we will have First Communion, and a week from Monday will be Confirmation.

   Those who were at our 10:30 a.m. Mass last Sunday took part in the Baptism of two young children. Baptism,Communion, and Confirmation together make up what are known as the Sacraments of Initiation. In other words, the reception of the Sacraments brings about the full initiation of the believer into the Christian life.

   We have to remember that being a Christian isn’t like belonging to a club. We don’t do it just to be part of a group, and the Church isn’t a clubhouse where we go to be entertained. The Christian life is living in relationship with Jesus Christ so that we grow closer and closer to Him, loving what He loves and seeking what He seeks. This action brings us closer to others who are likewise in relationship with Him: this is the union that we call the Church.

   Our connection as believers is more than simply going under a common label: it comes from our being united to Christ through grace, and through this, to be united to one another. The Sacraments are one of the most powerful ways we receive Grace  the Spiritual help that God gives us to allowus to faithfully walk the path of Faith. The Sacraments give us Grace both to cleanse and forgive us as well as to strengthen us in living the Christian life.

   I have found that when I am present at a Sacramental celebration, it makes me reflect on what it means that I have received these Sacraments myself. I have been Baptized: do I seek to keep my soul clean of sin since it has already been washed of it, and to keep the light of my Faith shining brightly? I have been Confirmed: do I call on the presence of the Holy Spirit that has been given to me to help me to grow in Holiness and the experience of God’s presence in my life?

   Our understanding of grace reminds us of the living presence of God in our lives. Our Faith is not based simply on a collection of wise sayings, but rather is a dynamic relationship between the living God and the believer. This is why the sacraments matter - this is why it matters to go to Mass every week and receive Confession regularly, because in these encounters with God we are changed through our reception of His Grace: we become people that we couldn’t be apart from this encounter.

   During this Easter season which calls us to reflect on our Baptism, may we also reflect on the many ways God offers us His Grace in our lives and resolve to be more open to its transformative power in our lives.