Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Anyone who wants to fight has to use the available means, which have not changed in twenty centuries of Christianity. They are prayer, mortification and frequent use of the sacraments. Since mortification is also prayer — prayer of the senses — we can sum up these means in two words: prayer and sacraments.

I would like us to reflect now on the sacraments, which are foundations of divine grace. They are a wonderful proof of God's loving kindness. Just meditate calmly on the Catechism of Trent's definition: "Certain sensible signs which cause grace and at the same time declare it by putting it before our eyes." God our Lord is infinite; his love is inexhaustible; his clemency and tenderness toward us are limitless. He grants us his grace in many other ways, but he has expressly and freely established, as only he can do, seven effective signs to enable men to share in the merits of the redemption in a stable, simple and accessible way.

If the sacraments are abandoned, genuine christian life disappears. Yet we should realize that particularly today there are many people who seem to forget about the sacraments and who even scorn this redeeming flow of Christ's grace. It is painful to have to speak of this sore in a so-called christian society, but we must do so for it will encourage us to approach these sources of sanctification more gratefully and more lovingly.

Without the slightest scruple people decide to postpone the baptism of newly born children. Yet by doing so they seriously go against justice and charity by depriving children of the grace of faith, of the incalculable treasure of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in a soul which comes into the world stained by original sin. They also try to change the true nature of the sacrament of confirmation, which tradition has unanimously seen as a strengthening of the spiritual life. By giving more supernatural strength to the soul, through a quiet and fruitful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, confirmation enables the Christian to fight as milites Christi, as a soldier of Christ, in his intimate battle against selfishness and lust of all sorts.

If you lose sensitivity for the things of God, it is very difficult to appreciate the sacrament of penance. Sacramental confession is not a human but a divine dialogue. It is a tribunal of divine justice and especially of mercy, with a loving judge who "has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; I desire that the wicked turn back from his way and live."

The tenderness of our Lord is truly infinite. See how gently he treats his sons. He has made marriage a holy bond, the image of the union of Christ and his Church, a great sacrament on which is based the christian family that has to be, with God's grace, a place of peace and harmony, a school of sanctity. Parents are the cooperators of God. That is the reason why children have the obligation of loving them. It is quite right to describe, as I wrote many years ago, the fourth commandment as the sweetest precept of the Decalogue. If you live marriage as God wishes you to, in a holy way, your house will be a bright and cheerful home, full of peace and joy.

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