There is a story of a seminarian who lost his doxology. A seminarian is someone studying and preparing to become a priest. In the same way that a man gives his life to his bride, a priest in a greater and more profound way, models Jesus Christ by laying down his life for his bride, the Church. This seminarian was very zealous and passionate about giving his life for God. He loved what he was studying and was inspired by the idea of serving the Church. So how do you knock someone like a seminarian off his game? You take away what gives him life. Eventually his passion wore off, his zeal cooled. The seminarian lost his doxology (an expression of praise and giving Glory to God) and his faith because he substituted talking about God instead of being with God. I think our biggest problem as Catholics today is we would rather be inspired than participate in the Sacramental life, the very thing that gives us life.
What differentiates Catholics from any other form of Christian faith is the participation in God’s life on earth, through the Sacraments of the Church (not including Baptism of course and sometimes Confirmation). Because we are physical and spiritual beings we need physical and spiritual help. This is what the Sacraments are, by definition from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sacraments are efficacious signs of grace instituted by Jesus given to the Church. Another word used by the Baltimore Catechism is Powers that come forth from Christ’s Body ever living and life giving. Jesus says “I come to give you life and give it to you in the full.” He doesn’t mean just when He was here. He doesn’t mean after you have come and reached Him. He says on the way to Me, I will give you what you need so you can find me in the places where you cannot always see Me.
We are all guilty of talking about the seven Sacraments, (Baptism, Confession, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick) like they are just milestones. The Church is in every stage of our life from birth to death. The Church meets us where we are but these are not just physical milestones, these are not just things to mark on the calendar or check off our list, but powerful encounters with the Lord. So if this is the case, why are we not frequenting the sacraments more regularly?
I run a youth ministry and its a struggle at times because I know something about myself. I am really confident I can throw a party for Youth Ministry . I can throw a good party so that kids will come, but to keep them there year-long?, I have to remember my doxology, I have to remember why I do things. A youth ministry is not there to provide a social avenue for people, its not for people to have community, it is for a community to grow in faith with the help of God to go back to God. That is the sacramental way. If I am not giving my teens at youth group or my students at school Jesus through the Sacraments, I will eventually cease to be inspired. My passion and my zeal will wither away like the seminarian and I will be left forfeit. I will become dry and tired trying to come back to the same retreats every year searching for the same inspiration we received the year before. I will keep doing things to receive something which fits in perfectly with this culture we live in today.
We live on this instant gratification. Our lives are ready to receive pleasure, gratitude and recognition. The Sacraments are there not so we can receive those things, those are secondary things. If you receive consolation in Confession that is secondary thing, it is not the primary purpose to feel good. The Lord tells us, “ Blessed are those who are weak, those who are poor.” Why? Is God sentimental towards the poor people? No, He wants what’s called detachment, they are not attached to good feeling. Every time we are walking around trying to seek attachment, good feeling, recognition and affirmation when we go to the Sacraments, we are not participating in the primary goal and the primary need. We are not putting the Sacraments in its proper place. The primary goal of the Sacraments is for you to meet Jesus and for Jesus to meet you.
Many of us treat Confession like a car wash. If we would go to a regular confessor (which most of us probably don’t) they would keep us in check more often. We pick and choose who we go to based on how they make us feel after what we have done. Or maybe your excuse is I don’t go to confession because it seems like I confess the same thing over and over again. I challenge you to go to a regular confessor because he will call you out and call you on to holiness! You may not feel good but the grace of the sacrament is still there. You participate in the Sacrament not to feel good but so you can have the grace to not commit that sin again. Participate, don’t anticipate. We hear/say that all the time in youth ministry.
I was called to participate in the Sacrament of Marriage, why? To be able to put someone first, not my wife. My wife is not first, God is first. And guess what, I am not my wife’s number one either. If we are not taking time to be fed by the Eucharist, if we are not taking time for couples retreats, if we are not taking time to pray with our daughters then we are not bringing God into every phase of our lives and the inspiration will wear off with midnight feedings and the 99th diaper change. One of my favorite saints, St. Jose-Maria Escriva invited Christ in everything. He invites Jesus into making the bed, chores, tying your shoes. He believed that everything could be a way to glorify God.
I believe that God inspires us and moves us to follow Him but to sustain us He gave us seven things. I don't know your vocation but I found mine through the grace of God because I am an idiot and I lose my way all the time, so thankfully God sent a wife who will keep bringing me back to the Sacraments. I know it was the right vocation because I found God through the examples and the opportunities to die to myself everyday. I am not the best at it. I am sure there are diapers I have not changed, conversations I have not had, there are moments where I had not prayed, and moments where I didn’t bring my wife the Sacrament. When you receive a Sacrament, you have to take time to tap into that regularly. My wife and I need to keep cashing in regularly on Confession, regular Eucharist, so we may imitate Jesus in our own spiritual lives and in our home lives. There is no separation. It is integrated. The Sacramental life helps you to integrate your faith life and personal life, your body and your soul. I think that is the very thing that the devil wants to divorce. How do you respond, how will you tap into the seven things God has given you? Don’t treat Jesus like an application. Don’t treat Jesus like an app on your phone, that you can delete or replace when you lose inspiration or use for. Don’t box Him in.
That doesn’t mean He won’t inspire you along the way through other means like Scripture, the Rosary and movies and nature. Those have hints of God in them too, but there are seven means to experience God in a more powerful way than ever before.There is a life to live and in order to get to the next one we need the life dispensed in the Sacraments. We are spiritual and physical beings who need physical and spiritual help.
The story referenced is from the book
The Sower's Seeds: 120 Inspiring Stories for Preaching, Teaching, and Public ...
By Brian Cavanaugh T. O. R.
"Lost his Doxology" by Fred Craddock