CCC1847 "God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us."(St. Augustine, Sermo 169,11,13:PL 38,923.) To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."(1 Jn 8-9)As the Prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham reminds us, faith is real when it issues forth in good works:
Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works, we all may be made worthy to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.
Mary becomes the Mother of all disciples
Jesus' words, "Behold, your son", effect what they express, making Mary the mother of John and of all the disciples destined to receive the gift of divine grace.
4. On the Cross Jesus did not proclaim Mary's universal motherhood formally, but established a concrete maternal relationship between her and the beloved disciple. In the Lord's choice we can see his concern that this motherhood should not be interpreted in a vague way, but should point to Mary's intense, personal relationship with individual Christians.—L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 30 April 1997, page 11.An excerpt from beginningCatholic.com might help us become aware of the "helps" that God has provided us to encounter Him, gifts which impart grace to save us and help us grow in truth and charity.
The sacraments are chosen instruments of divine power.
The exact definition of a sacrament is that it is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” We readily can see that there are three distinct ideas contained in that short definition:
- Outward sign
- Instituted by Christ
- To give grace
Let’s examine exactly what each of these three ideas means:
The outward signs are God’s way of treating us like the human beings we are. He conveys His unseen grace into our spiritual souls through material symbols which our physical bodies can perceive—things and words and gestures.
The outward signs of the sacraments have two parts: the “thing” itself which is used (water, oil, etc.), and the words or gestures which give significance to what is being done.
… Instituted by Christ…
We know that no human power could attach an inward grace to an outward sign—not even the divinely guided but humanly applied power of the Church.
Only God can do that.
Which brings us to the second element in the definition of a sacrament: “instituted by Christ.”
Between the time He began His public life and the time He ascended into heaven, Jesus fashioned the seven sacraments. When He ascended into heaven, that put an end to the making of sacraments.
The Church cannot institute new sacraments. There never can be more or less than seven, the seven Jesus has given us: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation (Confession or Penance), Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. [...]
… To give grace
Coming now to the third element in the definition of a sacrament, we have its essential purpose: “to give grace.”
What kind of grace do the sacraments give?
First and most important of all, they give sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is that marvelous supernatural life, that sharing-in-God’s-own-life that is the result of God’s Love, the Holy Spirit, indwelling in the soul.
To the soul cut off from God by original sin, Baptism brings sanctifying grace for the first time. Baptism opens the soul to the flow of God’s love, and establishes union between the soul and God.
To the soul cut off from God by its own sin, by mortal sin, the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession or Penance) restores the sanctifying grace that has been lost. Reconciliation removes the barrier that has kept the Holy Spirit outside and once again gives entrance to God’s life-giving love.
The other five sacraments—Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony—give an increase in sanctifying grace.
They deepen and intensify the spiritual life of sanctifying grace which already pulsates through the soul. As each additional sacrament is received (and repeated, when it can be) the level of spiritual vitality rises in the soul—somewhat as the brightness of a fire increases as you add more fuel.
(God’s love does not increase—it is infinite to begin with. But the soul’s capacity to absorb His love increases as a child’s capacity for life increases with each meal that he eats.)