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Sacraments

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Thanksgiving and the Eucharist

Before thanksgiving was an American holiday, it was a way of life for Jews and Christians alike, indeed a hallmark of the Judeo-Christian tradition. All ancient peoples gave thanks for creation; only Jews and Christians believe that God acted decisively in history to secure...

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Zacchaeus – Grace Comes to the Tax Collector

Zacchaeus (a.k.a Zaccheus) was an especially successful tax collector and therefore an exceptionally hated man. On the road to Jericho, from the limb of a Sycamore tree, this blood-sucking vampire caught a glimpse of mercy and grace and had to make a choice....

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Marriage & Celibacy in God’s Honor – Ignatius to Polycarp

Ignatius of Antioch, in chains on his way to martyrdom in Rome, writes advice to his fellow bishop Polycarp.  Married and celibate members of the community should live their marriage or celibacy as offering in God's honor.  And the entire Church must offer to God...

Eucharist True Body of Christ, Heavenly Manna – Ambrose

Ambrose, speaking to newly baptized Christians in the fourth century, shows how the reality of the eucharist is the true bread from heaven of which manna was only the symbol and shadow. It is the heavenly banquet set before us on the abundant table...

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Powerful Waters of Baptism – Ambrose

Addressed to those who have just received the sacrament of baptism, this sermon by St. Ambrose of Milan explains to them that that they've not simply been baptized in ordinary water, but in the sacred waters that transmit the invisible fire of the Holy Spirit....

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The Meaning of Post-Baptismal Rites – Ambrose

St. Ambrose of Milan tells newly baptized Christians the meaning of the post-baptismal rites: the clothing with a white garment and the anointing with sacred chrism which we call the sacrament of confirmation or, in the Eastern churches, chrismation....

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Rebirth through Forgiveness of Sins – Cyril of Jerusalem

Speaking to new Christians, about to be baptized, Cyril of Jerusalem urges them to acknowledge their sins and wash themselves clean, to empty themselves so as to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the supernatural seal conveyed through the anointing with sacred chrism following baptism....

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Mysteries & Rites before Baptism – Ambrose

Ambrose here provides a fascinating glimpse into the rites preceding baptism in 4th century Milan as well as into the adult catechesis (RCIA) of the early Church in which direct discussion of the sacraments, mystagogia, was given only after people had already received the sacraments...