July 22, 2024
Reflections By Rev. Fr. David Okolie



Rev. Fr. David Okolie

Welcome dearest friends to today’s Lenten Talk on the ‘Roles of the Sacraments during Lent’. I consider this topic very timely because a number of Catholics are gradually losing sight of the importance of the Sacraments in our heavenly journey. In fact, the Church teaches that ‘the SACRAMENTS are the CHIEF means of our SALVATION’ (cf. Catechism of Christian Doctrine [CCD] n. 252).

Now, what is a SACRAMENT?

A Sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace, ordained by Jesus Christ by which grace is given to our souls (cf. CCD n. 249). Noteworthy in the above is that Jesus Christ himself instituted the Sacraments and they have the power to effect GRACE in our lives through the merits of Christ’s Precious Blood (cf. CCD n. 251).

As we may have already known, we have SEVEN SACRAMENTS; namely: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Order and Matrimony. While all the above Sacraments are always necessary for our salvation, we want to highlight THREE of them that are very essential during this Lent and the roles they play in our Lenten Journey. These three are:

👉🏼1. Penance/Confession

👉🏼2. Anointing of the Sick

👉🏼3. Holy Eucharist

Receiving the above three sacraments presupposes that one has been BAPTIZED and that is why we would not spend time on Baptism. Now, the above 3 Sacraments play significant roles in CONVERSION/REPENTANCE and new LIFE of GRACE which are the central messages of the whole LENTEN SEASON.

1) Penance/confession

It is the Sacrament whereby the sins, whether *mortal or venial,* which we have committed after Baptism are forgiven (cf. CCD n. 281). Since God, through his Church calls us, in a very special way during LENT, to abandon our sins and come back to him, this sacrament becomes very necessary during the Lenten Season. Remember that it is one of the sacraments that can be received as many times as possible and not just once and for all. Thus, we are encouraged during this Lenten Season to always approach this sacrament of CONFESSION for a closer union with Jesus Christ. On this, St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) recommends weekly Confession.

2) Anointing of the Sick

This is a Sacrament that many Catholics are ignorant of. Whenever I have the opportunity of teaching the faithful about this sacrament I am always very happy because of my own personal experiences, which I may not begin to recount here because of want of time.

Anointing of the Sick is the Sacrament whereby the Priest anoints a person that is being threatened by SICKNESS or OLD AGE with Holy Oil called ‘Oleum Infirmorum’. This is a special oil that you can’t buy from any market. It is blessed only once in a year, during the CHRISM MASS wherein the Bishop together with the whole of his priests, celebrates a Holy Mass. During the same Mass, the Oil of the Catechumen and the Chrism Oil are blessed respectively and then distributed to all the priests with which they would carry on the pastoral ministry throughout the year until the next year’s CHRISM MASS.

Now, Anointing of the Sick cleanses the recipient from sins and restores him/her to health or prepares the person for Holy Death, depending on what God wants.

Why I said earlier that many Catholics are ignorant of this sacrament is that quite often, we may have a very sick person or very old person in our house and we would care less to go and call the priest to come and administer this sacrament to the person. This becomes more painful during the Lenten Season, when all the faithful are preparing for the Easter Celebration by frequenting the Sacrament of Penance and these Sick and Old people are abandoned without preparation. So, if you have such persons in your care, please, make sure you go and call the priest as soon as possible, after this presentation. Remember that this sacrament can be received often too and not just once and for all.

3) Holy Eucharist

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, is the TRUE Body and Blood of Jesus Christ together with his Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine (cf. CCD n.266). We would appreciate the role of this all important Sacrament when we recall the FRUITS of this Sacrament as outlined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nn. 1391-1405, thus:


👉🏼i. Holy Communion augments our union with Christ.

👉🏼ii. Holy Communion separates us from SIN.

👉🏼iii. Holy Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens the incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism.

👉🏼iv. The Eucharist commits us to the POOR.

👉🏼v. Through the Holy Eucharist, the memory of the Passion of Christ is renewed, the soul is filled with GRACE and a pledge of the LIFE to COME is given to us.

Finally, dearest friends, you and I must count ourselves most privileged to have been offered yet another opportunity within this Lenten Season to utilize the SPIRITUAL TREASURES that the above Sacraments offer us. Let us be like the people of Nineveh who, through their sincere REPENTANCE attracted the mercy of God. O that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your heart!

May the Blessed Virgin Mary always support us with her powerful intercession. Amen🙏🏼

I wish you a successful Lenten Journey🙏🏼

Remain blessed🙏🏼

Rev. Fr. David Okolie is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, Imo State, Nigeria. He is a prolific writer, retreat preacher and social media evangelizer.

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