Dear brothers and sisters,
Holy Week begins today on Palm Sunday. This week is the most important week of the year for us Christians. There is no other celebration that is as important as what we celebrate this week. For that reason, even to the days of the week the adjective “holy” is added to them.
Today, Palm Sunday, we begin with the symbol of the palms that reminds us of the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem, the place where he gave his life for our salvation.
Next Thursday, we will start with what is called the “Easter Triduum”. We will begin with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper where we remember the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. On Good Friday we will celebrate the passion and death of the Lord. And on Saturday we will celebrate at night the great Easter Vigil in which we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. The Easter triduum contains these three elements or three celebrations.
We celebrate what Christ did for us when he incarnated and gave his life for us in the Easter Triduum. But the Easter Triduum is not an event that we celebrate as an event of the past. Every time we celebrate the Easter Triduum in the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week, we make present and live that event. That is what happens in the liturgical celebrations of these days. In the liturgy celebrated in community, God is present and the mysteries that we celebrate in the liturgy are present for us in a current and accessible way. That is how wonderful the liturgy is. Every time we celebrate a mystery of the life of Christ (mystery understood not as something hidden but rather as something that is revealed to us), we celebrate that this mystery is present for us today, in the place where we are and in the circumstances in which we live and the ones that we come to encounter.
In these holy days we celebrate that God continues to save us. That Jesus continues to offer his life for the forgiveness of our sins. We celebrate that death does not have the last word on us. So we celebrate the new life that Jesus gives us.
I invite you to live with faith this holy week knowing that God gives us new life with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Let us put our lives in the hands of God so that he can transform them into a new life with his resurrection that we will be celebrating in a week. Keep in mind that the Easter Triduum includes the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. In our life, likewise, we must experience the passion, the death to our sinful self, and the resurrection to the new life with Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters, quite possibly some of you have seen in some of the Masses that the participants of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) have presented themselves for us to pray for them. This time of Lent is a time of intense spiritual preparation for them because they will receive the sacraments of initiation. You may be wondering what are the sacraments of initiation? Well, I take this space to explain to you what the sacraments of initiation are and the way in which the seven sacraments are grouped.
If you did not know, the seven sacraments are grouped into three groups. That way of grouping them has a very interesting reason. I present below each of the groups and a small explanation of why the groups are called that way.
Sacraments of “initiation”
These sacraments are: baptism, first communion and confirmation. They are called in this way because they are the three sacraments through which one enters into faith. These sacraments are received, ideally, in childhood and adolescence. They are the sacraments by means of which a person initiates in the faith. While communion can be received repeatedly, baptism and confirmation are only received once.
Sacraments of "healing"
Anointing of the sick and the sacrament of reconciliation belong to this second group. They are called sacraments of healing because each time they are received (because they can be received more than once), healing is received from God whether it be spiritual healing in the sacrament of confession and the anointing of the sick and even physical healing with the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Sacraments "at the service of the community"
The sacraments of marriage and priestly order belong to this last group. And they receive this name because the two sacraments are meant to serve the community. Marriage from its nature and state of life immersed in daily life in all places, and the priesthood in the divine worship offering the sacrifice of the Eucharist for the salvation of men and women and in the administration of the sacraments to the people of God.
Dear brothers and sisters,
There have been some people who have asked me if couples, not married in the Church, can receive communion. I know this topic is a delicate one and may be sensitive for some of you. The shortest answer is that couples who have not received the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church, as the Catholic Church celebrates it, cannot receive communion.
I will try to explain briefly the position of the Church regarding this issue.
First of all, let me clarify that this position is not a rejection for anyone. It is not that the Church rejects people who have not been married by the Catholic Church. Marriage has a very beautiful symbolism because through the experience of marriage the couple shows to others the great love that God has for his Church. A sacrament makes present God to us in ways that are visible and in easy to understand. That is why marriage is a sacrament, because through your marriage relationship you make present God to us. The sacrament, then, is not only about the couple; it is about the couple walking with God in their relationship.
Marriage is a state of life in which the couple is invited to live the christian life as God asks for the couple who contracts marriage. And as baptized, all believers have the right to marry in the way the Church celebrates it. God makes Himself present to us through marriage, but the couple must also consciously open a space for God in their relationship.
The reason why couples who are not married in the Catholic Church cannot receive communion is because with the state of their relationship they are not in communion with what the Lord expects from them to achieve sanctity. In other words, by deciding to live together without the sacrament, you are really telling God with your life that you are not in communion with Him, with what he proposes to you. The fact of standing up and receiving the consecrated host is a way of telling God and the Christian community, of which we are a part, that with our life, even though it is not perfect, we are striving to be in communion with the teachings of Christ. Upon receiving the body of Christ in communion and saying "Amen," we are saying that we do strive to live according to the teachings of Jesus. And if we receive communion, but do not want to live as God proposes, there is a contradiction and in reality, there is no communion.
I know that this is a very sensitive issue and that there are several people who have complex situations for which they have not been able to marry, even if they have a great desire to do so. If this is your case, ask a priest about your particular situation to see if the relationship can be regularized. I hope to be able to write more about this topic in the future.
Fr. Manuel Rosiles, MSpS