A common misconception about being Catholic and celebrating the liturgy and sacraments, like the Eucharist and baptism and confirmation, is that we just do these things because they’re customs and traditions like cultural practices that we do just because. You know, like in the same way in sports we have traditions or customs that we do kind of just because. There’s Thanksgiving football in Dallas and Detroit. And the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have that terrible, terrible tower. And the NHL, some players and fans go the whole season without shaving their beard. And soccer has this tradition of exchanging jerseys at the end of the game. Sports! But the sacraments aren’t just quaint little traditions. See, the sacraments actually have power. The sacraments change us drastically, and they change us long beyond the ceremony. See, God actually does something in the sacraments. They aren’t just symbols or human traditions.
Now the Catechism explains this. In paragraph 1131, it says, “The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated, signify, and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” The sacraments are efficacious, meaning they’re effective, they do something. Unfortunately, wearing your lucky jersey doesn’t really do much. And the Catechism is saying that the sacraments make present the graces proper to them, and that the sacraments bear fruit and those that receive them with the right disposition. So what does this mean? It means that the sacraments aren’t just hollow traditions that don’t really do anything. In fact, in the sacraments, Jesus wants to encounter you. And when Jesus encounters people, he changes them. He heals them and strengthens them/ Through the sacraments, we can experience the divine life of God, and you can experience Jesus in the sacraments too.