The Average Catholic and Sacraments with a Small s

June 13, 2011

A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace. The Average Catholic cherishes the seven sacraments of the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Reconciliation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. These are the Sacraments with a big S. There are also sacraments with a small s. We receive the Sacraments once or many times over a lifetime. But we give sacraments every moment of our lives.

  • We give a sacrament of baptism every time we behold another as a child of God.
  • We offer a sacrament of reconciliation every time we say to someone “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.”
  • Every time a wife says to her husband or a husband to his wife, “I love you,”—or better, when a husband gets a cold cloth and puts it on his wife’s forehead when she has a headache, or a when a wife gives her husband a hug for no other reason than she knows he needs it—is a sacrament of marriage.
  • A sacrament of eucharist happens every time family or friends gather around a table to share in the good of God.
  • Every time someone decides to live a better life is a sacrament of confirmation.
  • Everyone who makes a radical commitment to be here not for himself but for God expresses a sacrament of holy orders.
  • Every time we visit a sick person in a hospital or nursing home and just kiss them on the cheek is an anointing of the sick.

What could be more beautiful?

An old song says, “Little things mean a lot.” Sacraments with a small s mean everything to those who give them and to those who receive them.

Please share any other sacraments with a small s that come to mind. Maybe we can make a big list to inspire others.

Today’s post is excerpted from my book Why Stay Catholic? Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question.

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