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63. The Effects of the Sacraments

1. A character is a lasting mark, set as a seal and adistinctive sign upon a person. Now, a sacrament is capable ofimprinting a character upon the Christian soul, marking itpermanently as dedicated to the worship of God. In a somewhatsimilar way, the uniform and insignia of a soldier is an abidingmark and indication of his allegiance, his rank, and his specialduty.

2. But the character imprinted or impressed by a sacramentmust be a spiritual thing, for it is a mark or seal set on thesoul. It must, therefore, be one of the three things which aspiritual soul can have; that is, passion, habit, or power. It isnot a passion, for a passion is not lasting; it passes quickly,whereas a character has permanence. Nor is the character a habit.It is a spiritual power.

3. The sacramental character is the character or mark ofChrist. It is, in some way, a participation in Christ's eternalpriesthood. It comes to the soul from Christ himself.

4. A character impressed by a sacrament of theNew Law marks the Christian soul as the receiver or the bestower ofthings belonging to the worship of God. Now, the worship of Godinvolves actions which come from the powers of the soul. Hence, thesacramental character has as its subject (that is, its seat,location) the powers of the soul, not the essenceof the soul as such.

5. Every sanctification wrought by the priesthood ofChrist is perpetual. Therefore, a character impressed by asacrament (a character which is, in some sense, a participation inChrist's priesthood), is everlasting. It cannot be obliteratedfrom the soul. It is an indelible mark and seal.

6. Not every sacrament of the New Law imprints anindelible character on the soul. Such a character is impressed bythose sacraments which are ordained for divine worship and whichgive a person power to receive or confer other sacraments.Baptism empowers a person to receive other sacraments.Confirmation (as we shall see later) has something of thissame purpose. Holy order empowers the receiver to confer sacramentson others. Therefore, these three sacraments (baptism,confirmation, holy order), imprint, respectively, a character onthe soul. A property of these sacraments is that they can bereceived only once by the same person. Their respective charactersnever fade or admit of renewal.

"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"If, devout soul, it is your will to please God and live a life of serenity in this world, unite yourself always and in all things to the divine will. Reflect that all the sins of your past wicked life happened because you wandered from the path of God's will. For the future, embrace God's good pleasure and say to him in every happening: "Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight." "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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