•Thank you to all parents, students, faculty, staff and others who contributed so generously to our recent WCEA/WASC Accreditation Visit! To celebrate a successful accreditation, there will be no school this Monday, January 30. Students return Monday evening at the usual time (between 7:00 and 7:45 PM). Enjoy your 3-day weekend!
•If any students are interested in signing up for our Archery Club, they should see Frater Frederick sometime this week.
•The next soccer games are: Tuesday, January 31, at 3:30 PM, at St. Michael’s; and Wednesday, February 1, at 3:15 PM, at Southlands Christian [1920 Brea Canyon Cut Off Rd., Walnut, CA 91789].
•The next basketball games are: Tuesday, January 31, at 3:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center [2 Terrace Rd, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694]; and Friday, February 3, at 5:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center [2 Terrace Rd, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694].
When St. Thomas Aquinas was a child, he had the horrible misfortune of having his little sister struck and killed by lightning while he himself lie in a bed next to her. For the rest of his life, as one could imagine, St. Thomas was dreadfully afraid of thunderstorms. It is said that whenever he would see lightning or hear thunder he would fall into a panic; but then, this future Doctor of the Church would quickly console himself by simply making the sign of the cross and saying out loud, “God came in our flesh; God suffered for us.” With this simple pious action and these few words St. Thomas not only calmed himself down, but summed up the whole of Christian spirituality, a spirituality which is based on the Word Made Flesh, the Incarnation of the Son of God.
In today’s world of religious laxity we often hear things like, “I do not need to go to Confession to have my sins forgiven; God will forgive me without the sacrament.” Or, “As long as two people love each other, God will surely bless the marriage; we don’t need to go through the Church for that.” Such statements reveal not only a lack of faith in the sacraments but also a serious ignorance regarding the Incarnation itself.
At the moment of the Incarnation, when God came to us in human flesh, the divine and the human, the invisible and the visible, the spiritual and the material became united in a way they had never been before; and from that moment on the world would never be the same. God saved us by becoming Man and by suffering for us. He could have done it in another way if we so wanted, but He chose this way, seeing as He did that it was most fitting to come and suffer in human flesh, given the fact that it was man He was coming to save. And so, just as He used our human nature as an instrument of His divinity while He lived among us to win for us the supernatural grace of salvation, so He now communicates this grace through physical means, the seven sacraments of the Church. Every time one of the sacraments is performed the Word Made Flesh dwells among us through His grace. Every time one of the sacraments is performed Christ humbles Himself and comes to us again, hidden under visible signs. Every time one of the sacraments is performed the Creator uses His creatures as His instruments to communicate grace.
The sacraments then are like echoes, so to speak of the Incarnation itself. Or, to use an expression of Pope Pius XI, the sacraments are like “relics of the Incarnation”: concrete material things, such as water or oil, which transmit invisible spiritual realities, and which receive their power from the fact that God came in the flesh and suffered for us. And so, not to believe in and make use of the seven sacraments is to thwart, to some degree, the power of the Incarnation, to keep it in check when it should be communicated to souls.
Another remark one hears today—it often comes, oddly enough, from the same persons who neglect the sacraments—is that God does not seem to care about us, that He is too aloof and watches us wallow in trials without lending a hand to help us. “If only we could touch even the hem of His garment,” they say, as did the Phoenician woman in the Gospel. Well, in the sacraments we can do more than that. If we come with humility and faith to receive the sacraments, Christ will shed His grace on us through material realities, as He did to the Phoenician woman through the hem of His garment. We have no excuse not to come.
It’s no wonder, then, why St. Thomas, in the midst of tribulation, would find so much consolation in the words, “God came in the flesh, God suffered for us.” For he was reminding himself that God is near, at every moment of our life: at birth, when we fall into sin, when we need His nourishment, when we reach our adult life, when we get married, when we approach death. Christ is near not only to help us carry our daily crosses, but more importantly to conform us gradually more and more to His own image, to make us more Christ-like.
May we always make abundant use of the sacraments which God has given us, for it is through them that we shall receive the grace of Christ and grow in our love for Him, Who came in the flesh and suffered for us. Amen.
•For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
•For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
•For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.