176 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated
But for some practical-minded people, religion appears to put too
much emphasis on the next world rather than this one. Further, they
claim that the time and effort devoted to ceremonies and otherworldly
endeavors seems to have little value. They would want religion to con-
fine itself to humanitarian deeds.
The Church has a vital role to play in shaping responsible citizens
with moral character and with a willingness to contribute to the well-
being of society. The liturgy and worship of the Church have much to
do with these admirable goals. At divine worship, people receive the
grace to help them to be formed ever more closely to Christ. The saving
grace of the dying and rising of Christ are communicated to us in the
Sacraments so that we might live more perfectly Christ’s truth and vir-
tues such as love, justice, mercy, and compassion.
Every Mass ends with the mission to go forth and serve the Lord.
This sending means that the love of God and neighbor and the moral
implications of the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments should be
witnessed by the participants in everyday life. People of faith know that
their liturgical experience provides a unique spiritual vision and strength
for making this a better world.
The lives of the saints provide ample evidence of this truth. Saints
of every age have improved health care and education and fostered the
human dignity of the poor, the oppressed, and the society at large. Saints
attribute their remarkable energies to the power that comes from prayer
and above all from the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
1. How might you participate more fully, more consciously, and more
actively in the Sunday Mass? In a culture that is centered on the
“weekend,” what can people do to observe Sunday as a day dedi-
cated to God?
2. Review the definition of the Sacraments. How would you explain
its elements to others? What can you learn from the sacred times in
which liturgy is celebrated, such as Sunday, the Liturgical Year, and
the feasts and memorials of the saints?