Goffine’s Devout Instructions – Sacraments and Ceremonies of the Church

detail of a stained glass window depicting each of the seven sacraments; by Ott Frères Strasbourg, 1923; Saint-Thiébaut parish church, Thann, Haut-Rhin, France; photographed on 31 July 2015 by GFreihalter; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsCeremonies

In the celebration of her worship the Catholic Chnrch makes use:

  1. of speech;
  2. of those visible acts and symbols known as ceremonies.

These ceremonies have been ordained in order that we may more easily lift up our heart to God and the contemplation of heavenly things.

How do the ceremonies help us to raise our minds to God and heavenly things?

They help us:

  1. By making the worship of the Church impressive and solemn, thereby fixing our attention, and directing it from things of this earth to God.
  2. By placing before us visible symbols of invisible mysteries, thus enabling us more easily to reflect and meditate upon them.

Have all the ceremonies of the Church a peculiar sense and meaning?

Certainly; every ceremony which the Church, inspired by the Holy Ghost, uses in the celebration of her worship has a mysterious significance, and should awaken holy thoughts in our breasts.

Are not these ceremonies idle observances?

By no means, since:

  1. God Himself in the Old Law prescribed for the Jews many ceremonies, with heavy penalties for their non-observance.
  2. Christ our Lord made use of various ceremonies, as, for instance, when He fell flat on the ground, and prayed (Mark 14:35); when He spat on the ground, and making clay of the spittle, spread the clay upon the eyes of the blind man, who thereupon recovered his sight (John 9:6,7.); when He touched the ear of the servant of the high priest and healed him (Luke 22:50, 51).

The Sacraments

A sacrament is a visible sign instituted by Jesus Christ through which invisible grace and sanctification are communicated to us. Christ instituted seven sacraments:

  1. Baptism
  2. Confirmation
  3. Holy Eucharist
  4. Penance
  5. Extreme Unction
  6. Holy Orders
  7. Matrimony

Whence do we derive the ceremonies which, with the signs instituted by Christ, are used in administering the sacraments?

From the Church which, with the assistance of the Holy Ghost, has ordained these ceremonies to increase our reverence and respect.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions