I was recently reading “Sacramental Theology” a book by Kurt Stasiak who is, I think, the prior of St. Meinrad Archabbey’s school of theology. I knew I would thoroughly enjoy his thoughts on both the Eucharist and Baptism, but what surprised me was the chapter on the other 5 Catholic sacraments.
I especially appreciated how these sacraments have “evolved” within the Catholic church in recent years. Particularly the sacrament of Confession, now called Reconciliation and the sacrament of Extreme Unction, now called the Anointing of the Sick. For some time, I had thought Extreme Unction was essentially a “Last Rite” or “Final Sacrament” offered to a sick person who was likely in hospice, or at the point of death. Now it seems they are offering the Anointing to any who seek the sacrament and are sick for any reason… whether physically or spiritually.
And they have turned to what I believe to be a biblical understanding of the anointing, which is not to prepare a person to get to heaven, but rather a recommissioning of the person for Christ in the face of their suffering, illness, or malady. It has been interesting, in light of these things to begin reading portions of another of his writings called “The Confessor’s Handbook” which is a practical guide for those who would hear confession. Written for Catholic priests, it also holds value for Protestants who hold to the priesthood of all believers and desire to return to a solid biblical and Christian use for the blessing that confession of sin truly is.
I another post, I hope to address sacraments from the standpoint of the grace received in them. What differentiates the grace received at Baptism from that of the Lord’s Supper? And what is different in the blessing received from confession and accountability (which I wonder if accountability might not be a sacrament itself? or an extension of confession?) By the way… for those who are reading my recent posts and wondering if Mr. Keele might be going Catholic. The answer is no. I am however doing two things that have me following this line of thought…
1) Attending a retreat at the Archabbey of St. Meinrad this spring lead by Kurt Stasiak, OSB.
2) Studying the idea of reclaiming the priesthood for all believers and preparing a sermon series on it.
‘Til next time!
P.S. – You can find the books to which I refer at Amazon.com