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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?