Article 89 – Catechism of the Catholic Church Series
Paragraphs 1076-1083 Divine Blessing
On Aug. 16, 1950, an odd news item with the headline “Old Maids Come Into Their Own With a Special Day,” appeared in the local newspaper in Denton, Texas. The citizens of that town paid tribute to its spinsters with teas and gifts, fl owers, free shampoos, and free movies. It all started when the single ladies realized how much they were spending on baby gifts, anniversary gifts, and wedding gifts, with nearly never having the chance of getting a present in return. The mayor proclaimed Aug. 16 as “Old Maids’ Day,” declaring: “The ladies have been overlooked and unrecognized in their contributions.” Gifts, cards and letters came from all over the country. From faraway cities came word that other towns were doing something similar for the unrecognized women in their communities, but one unmarried woman wrote that she resented the term “old maid” as well as the word “spinster,” but would settle for “lady in waiting,” “single woman” or, even better, “unclaimed treasure.”
Unclaimed treasure may also be a way to describe “sacramental economy” or the way Christ works through the sacraments, and His plan for salvation accomplished through the Church.
Although the word “economy” most often suggests the notion of “money,” here it refers to another kind of treasure. Economy is that part of divine revelation in the Christian tradition that deals with God’s creation and management of the world, particularly His plan for salvation accomplished through the Church. In other words, when we speak of “sacramental economy,” we are referring to “the communication [or dispensation] of the fruits of Christ’s Paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church’s ‘sacramental’ liturgy” (ccc 1076). Who among us can say that he or she has claimed all these treasures that Christ makes available to us in the sacraments or in the Church’s sacramental liturgies?
We live in the age of the Church, “during which [time] Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church” until His Second Coming in glory
at the end of the world (ccc 1076). This is a great blessing for us, which means “it is a divine and life-giving action, the source of which is (God) the Father” (ccc 1078). As a matter of fact, “from the beginning until the end of time the whole of God’s work is a blessing” (ccc 1079). When the word “blessing” is applied to us humans, it means “adoration and surrender to our Creator in thanksgiving” (ccc 1078).
A passage from Sacred Scripture (Ephesians 1:3) included in the daily prayers of priests and consecrated religious worldwide, captures this sentiment beautifully as quoted in the Catechism: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us before him in love to be his sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (ccc 1077).
As we surf the Sacred Scriptures, we discover that “the inspired authors proclaim the plan of salvation as one vast divine blessing” (ccc 1079) from the first book of the Bible (Genesis) to the fin a l one (Revelation).
The Catechism (ccc 1080) chronicles the details in the Book of Genesis: · We learn that God blessed all living beings, especially man and woman.
· We learn that the covenant with Noah and with all living things renewed this blessing of fruitfulness despite man’s sin which had brought a curse on the ground.
· With Abraham, the divine blessing enters into human history, escapes death, and is redirected toward life, toward its source.
· By the faith of “the father of all believers,” who embraced the blessing, the history of salvation is inaugurated.
The next paragraph in the Catechism (ccc 1081) explains that “the divine blessings were made manifest in astonishing and saving events” as follows: · the birth of Isaac (Genesis 21).
· the escape from Egypt
and Passover (Exodus 12-15).
· the gift of the promised land (Genesis 15.26, 28; Exodus 23; Numbers 34; Deuteronomy 1, 19).
· the election of David (1 Samuel 16).
· the presence of God in the Temple (Exodus 36). · the purifying exile, and return of a “small remnant” (Deuteronomy 3, 28; Isaiah 10, 11; Ezra 3; 2 Kings 19). · the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
· the Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).
· the Psalms (150 Psalms are interwoven in the liturgy of the Chosen People). The Catechism explains that “in the Church’s liturgy the divine blessing is fully revealed and communicated. The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and the end of all the blessings of creation and salvation. In his Word who became incarnate, died, and rose for us, h e fi lls us with his blessings. Through his Word, he pours into our hearts the Gift that contains all gifts, the Holy Spirit” (ccc 1082). The Liturgy is the manner in which we receive “the spiritual blessings of the Father” (ccc 1083). “On the one hand, the Church, united with her Lord and in the Holy Spirit, blesses the Father for his inexpressible gift in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving” (ccc 1083). “On the other hand, until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world” (ccc 1083). How blessed we are to have the indispensable gift of Christ in the sacraments and in the Church’s sacramental liturgies!
Father Hillier serves as Director of the Offi ce of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Censor Librorum and oversees the Office for Persons with Disabilities