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Stocking Up on God

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 01, 2012

I've referred before to Fr. John Saward’s wonderful anthology of Catholic England, Firmly I Believe and Truly (see The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England). I've been going through it very slowly, with many interruptions.

Last night I read selections from Bishop Thomas Watson (1513-1584), who served during the reign of Mary I and enjoyed a stellar reputation as a preacher. The antholgy includes excerpts of his sermons on the number of the sacraments and on penance in general.

Some of the turns of phrase employed by 16th-century English writers are quite striking, and the archaic language (to our ears) seldom fails to convey a sense of the sheer weight and richness of the Catholic tradition. It is astonishing to recall that this period takes us only a quarter of the way back to the beginning!

Anyway, please read this brief summary of what we might call the five universal sacraments (excluding the two which apply to specific vocations). See if something doesn't strike you as quite wonderful here:

The first five be ordained for the making good and the perfection of every man and woman, as by Baptism we are justified and made members of Christ’s mystical body; by confirmation we are increased and strengthened in grace; by the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood we are nourished to everlasting life, and made fat with God; by Penance we are restored to our former rightwiseness and goodness, if in case we fall after Baptism; by Extreme Unction we are made whole spiritually, and also corporally, if it be thought to God expedient to our souls.

I love that phrase “made fat with God”. It is incomparably apt in reference to a Savior who insisted, literally, that we gnaw His flesh to obtain eternal life.

Give us this day our daily bread. Oh that we all might be made fat with God!

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