•Congratulations to all of the students on the completion of the first quarter!
•First quarter report cards will be emailed home on Thursday, October 26.
•Next Parent Meeting: October 29, at 6:30 PM, Fr. Benedict Solomon, O. Praem. will speak on raising teenagers. A question & answer opportunity will follow the talk.
•Here is the link to our online spirit shop: http://stmichaelsprep.org/athletics
•Looking ahead: we might need 2 chaperones to accompany the Robotics Club to their competition on Saturday, November 11. If your son is in the Robotics Club, please consider lending us a hand and volunteering as a chaperone/driver.
•Some students will be involved in feeding the homeless in Laguna Beach this Tuesday.
•Reminder to all those going to Rome to turn in the second and final payment.
•The school will hold a classical music recital on Sunday, November 12, at 7:00 PM. All are welcome.
•Alumnus Captain Thomas Dudro (Class of 2006) visited us this past week. After graduating from St. Michael’s, Thomas attended Notre Dame University and now serves in the United States Marine Corps [see picture].
•The next football game is Friday, October 27, at Lavergne Lutheran [3960 Fruit St., Lavergne, CA 91750].
•The next cross country meet is Friday, October 27, at Irvine Park, time to be announced.
•The Fall Sports Awards Ceremony will be on Sunday, November 5, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help room.
He put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue…
The somewhat strange curing of the mute man in the Gospel—cured by our Lord placing His spit covered finger on the man’s tongue—teaches us, and offers a foundation for one of the doctrines and practices of our Catholic Faith, one of which most Catholics are not conscious enough, namely the use of sacramentals.
Sacramentals are things or actions which the Church uses in a certain imitation of the Sacraments, in order, in virtue of her prayers, to achieve effects, above all those of a spiritual nature [1917 Code of Canon Law]. They are called sacramentals because they are “mini-sacraments” if you will, that is, they are similar to, though not exactly the same as a sacrament, and they prepare us for the sanctifying grace which comes from the sacraments—those seven great channels of God’s grace.
The sacramentals prepare us for the sacraments in two ways: first, by removing impediments to God’s grace, like venial sins, as well as our sinful inclinations and the attacks of the devil, and punishment due to past sins; and second, by disposing us to receive God’s grace with more fervor, love and devotion, and arousing in us contrition for our sins. In addition to these spiritual goods, sacramentals can also obtain for us temporal goods, like good health for the sick, a good harvest for farmers, peaceful family life through the blessing of a home.
The use of sacramentals by God’s faithful is rooted in and goes back to the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see in today’s Gospel how He Who took on our physical human nature in order to suffer and die for us, made use of a mere material thing (i.e. His own spit) in the curing of a soul. We also hear of our Lord doing similar things elsewhere in the Gospels: once He used mud, another time the hem of His garment to bring about a cure.
In the Acts of the Apostles (19:12) we hear how the first Christians would take the handkerchiefs and aprons of St. Paul (even while He was still living!) and touch them to the bodies of those who were sick, and the wicked spirits left them. Furthermore, we know from archaeology that the early Christians would visit the tombs of the martyrs and touch pieces of cloth to the bodies when possible (we would now call these third class relics), and when not possible they would bring back to their homes some of the oil from the lamps in the catacombs as a “holy souvenir”. Finally, the blessing of persons, fasting, giving to the poor, the sign of the cross, the use of sacred images, blessed foods and vessels, incense, holy water, scapulars, processions—all go back to the earliest days of Christianity; and they have always been encouraged and sanctioned by the Church, and never condemned as idolatry or superstition.
Sacramentals, we said, are not the same as the Sacraments. The seven Sacraments, instituted by our Lord Himself, give to us sanctifying grace—God’s divine life in us; and they do this every time they take place, provided that the rite is carried out correctly and the recipient does not place obstacles to the sacrament. The term for this is ex opere operato, which simply means that the sacraments work automatically by the very fact that they take place, and they have their power within themselves. Sacramentals, on the other hand, which the Church instituted by the authority given her by Christ, do not communicate sanctifying grace. They do remove obstacles to the receiving of sanctifying grace, and they do help dispose us to its reception.
Unlike the Sacraments, the sacramentals depend for their effects on the prayer of Mother Church and oftentimes on the disposition of the one using them as well. Not just any article or action is a sacramental, but only one which the Church has instituted as such. So the power comes from the Church’s prayer attached to a given sacramental. Remember that faith must accompany the use of any sacramental. As our Lord told the woman who touched His garment and was cured: Your faith has saved you. She needed faith and devotion in order to obtain the effect. It did not happen automatically by touching His garments; if that were the case then the guards who stripped our Lord of His clothes would have also been saved.
So faith and devotion must accompany the use of many sacramentals in order for them to produce their effect. When a priest blesses water for instance, the water is truly blessed, God bestowing His blessing upon it through the prayers of the Church—this part does not depend on anyone else. But the one who uses that water must do so with faith and devotion for it to produce effects. Take for another example the wearing of the scapular: when the priest blesses it, it is truly a blessed scapular, the Church obtaining by her prayer the blessing from Christ; but if the one who wears it has no devotion to our Blessed Mother, does not practice his faith, does not even know why he is wearing it and does not care, well then we can be sure that no effects will be obtained from it. It is not, after all a good-luck charm; it’s a sacramental. This is the difference between superstition and true Catholic piety.
So we must make ample use of these wonderful gifts God has given us through Holy Mother Church. Our Catholic Faith has its beginnings, in a sense, in our Lord becoming man, making use of material objects from that very first moment of His conception. He took on human flesh because we are human and it is we He came to save. He continues to use this physical world as an instrument in saving us. May we never forsake His gifts.
•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.