Sacramental Life of the Early Church
You will not obtain anywhere such great graces as during the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. Only from this Sacrifice flows such power and depth of unity with God, connecting the soul forever with the Person of the Savior. It seems that only saints should live on Earth having so many Holy Masses and so many opportunities to make use of their graces. If you had our faith and so many Holy Masses at every step, you would become a society of angels. Ask the Holy Spirit for true faith, because you have the Holy Masses, and what they will be like depends on your faith.
To the Dear Reader, we submit the next pastoral aid, affiliated with the five-year cycle of our educational and pastoral work for the period 2014-2018, titled: "With the Holy Family into the year 2017". In the pastoral year 2017 dedicated to the Holy Spirit, we publish the first position titled "The sacramental life of the early Church according to Saint Agnes". It is by now the ninth book from our publishing edition: Library of the subtleties of God.
In the Church, the faithful experience the particular presence and action of God in the sacramental life. Through these sacraments, man receives the power of grace and of the depth of unity with God. If the faithful had such faith as the people of the early Church and lived through the holy sacraments, they would become a society of angels. The Holy Spirit is the key to true faith, which unleashes the effectiveness and the power of the holy sacraments.
Reader, enter into the depth of these messages and sail into the deep.
Father Piotr Maria Natanek
Saint Agnes: I would like to return to our old conversation in which you asked me about my life. I will tell you then about it in detail, but now I wanted to show you the differences in our approach of that time to the matters of faith and in your contemporary view of these matters. (...)
I will begin with baptism. In my time, baptism was the entry into the world of faith. It did not only bring grace, but also the deliverance from all external and internal bonds. The sacrament of course remained the same. Only the approach to it has changed and the awareness of those who administer and receive this sacrament. Baptism for me and for those, who received it in my times, was the absolute beginning, the beginning of a new life. For baptism, one waited as for the most important moment in life. It was preceded by preparation and purification, as well as the profession of faith. The profession of faith was absolutely necessary and with the whole heart. Nobody then received baptism as a principle or for the sake of social customs. The reception of baptism was a decision for life and death. The catechumen was then choosing death in the world and for the world, but instead eternal life. The death of Christians was at that time a daily occurrence and sooner or later it had to touch every one of us. Now also Christians come in contact with death, but much less often and for that reason the awareness of the fragility of life is much smaller.
Baptism signified the renunciation of happiness in this world and the acceptance with faith of the promise of eternal happiness. It was most often a conscious choice and for that reason it brought great benefit to all those who participated in it. It not only freed the baptized soul, but also brought avail to the whole community of Christians, which was fortified in faith, and to the godparents, who were accepting their office as an honor and with responsibility. Each baptism is a victory of Christ over Hell, death and Satan. This is a wonderful victory and this is why we always celebrated when the community was welcoming subsequent members and through baptism was including them in the Church.
Today baptism is received as a kind of symbol or custom, and therefore it comes so easily to give it up or to approach it in a sacrilegious way. In the early communities, it was unthinkable to designate unbelievers as witnesses for baptism. The godparents had to be exemplary and experienced Christians, because upon them rested the duty to watch over the spiritual development of their godchild, even though this child happened to be older than his parents. The participation in the sacrament put upon them the responsibility for the soul, which they had presented to God. You make light of this sacrament and this is why it is increasingly rare.
The Holy Spirit grants the fullness of gifts to the baptized soul, but her later spiritual development is inhibited due to the all-prevailing voice of the current world in your families through all kinds of media. Children are the most receptive and curious; therefore the access to these bad sources fills them up very quickly and forms in them bad models and tendencies. The grace of God can protect the most innocent souls, but prayer and knowledge are necessary. Great responsibility rests upon the parents, because the attitudes and tendencies molded in early childhood will be fruitful in later life, and then it is much harder to mold anything in the soul of the child. This first period after the baptism is very important. One does not have to wait until the child gains awareness. This awareness is not dependent on age but on grace, and the grace penetrates into the soul independently of age. The more grace, the greater the awareness. I knew many children more aware than their parents. Contrary to appearances, children are closer to God and understand much better the matters of God. May God bless you. Tomorrow I will come to speak about the next difference.
2. HOLY COMMUNION
Saint Agnes: Today I wish to speak about the faith in the sacraments of the Church. Another sacrament that we receive is the Holy Communion. Faith in the true presence of Jesus in the transubstantiated Bread makes this sacrament for a Christian an authentic encounter with God, with the resurrected Christ, on the plane of the soul and the body. Because of the great importance of this sacrament, it is given to persons who are aware and prepared. But no one can verify faith. We believed in this sacrament without a shadow of doubt. This was the basis of our faith, that we truly consume the Body of Jesus Christ. It is precisely because of this reason, that not all disciples believed in this miracle, many of them departed from Him. We took their place, because we believed and desired this miracle for ourselves.
This is the greatest miracle of our faith and accessible to everyone, even to those who have weaker faith. For them likewise the transubstantiation happens and for them likewise Jesus is present in His holy Forms, so that He may be received and glorified. This miracle happens always when the priest speaks the words of consecration, and not only when we truly believe. This is a great grace, because looking at today's world, one can see that if this miracle was to depend on the faith of the people, it would be very rare. Meanwhile, it is permanent. It still happens even where there are people who doubt, and not only the faithful but also the priests, who plead for this miracle by pronouncing the words of consecration.
Every man on Earth can meet with God in this way, touch Him in a real way, receiving His Body into his body. In a certain way, we repeat the miracle of Incarnation, which lasts in a spiritual way as long as the soul of man is in the state sanctifying grace. We receive Jesus as Mary, and the Holy Spirit enables the realization of this desire precisely through the miracle of consecration. Then, the priest, who acts in the name of God, places Lord Jesus into our bodies in a visible way, because if it were to be done in a way not visible to the senses, as in the case of Mary, who could believe? After receiving the Holy Communion, all who have communicated are united by one and the same Body of Lord Jesus. From there comes the awareness of brotherhood and community.
Contemporary faith is shallow because it lacks the basis of knowledge and facts to believe. There is also a lack of faithful who would desire to convince others of these truths up to shedding their own blood. Little is said about these most important truths during sermons. Little time is given to rejoice from the encounter with God in the Holy Communion, and these are the most important moments in this earthly life. Believe with all your heart, because these meetings are real and only yours. Everyone can have Jesus only for himself, like Mary. It is very important to accept Him with true love, imitating precisely the Mother of God.
3. HOLY MASS
Saint Agnes: Today I wish to take you to our Holy Mass. It differed a lot from your Holy Mass, but not at all in the forms. Mainly in the spiritual part. Forms changed over time and they were also dependent on the place where the Sacrifice was performed, but it was always the Sacrifice of our Lord and we participated in it with true faith. This was the main difference separating our times. While an exception happened at the Holy Mass, a person with an impure heart who did not seek God, your Holy Masses gather people who do not participate in them at all. They do not pray. They are only present with the body, but not the heart. Such people are the majority. In my times, going to the Holy Mass was already a profession of faith and a sacrifice for God, because there was always a threat of falling into the hands of persecutors of Christians, of whom there was no shortage at that time. After each Holy Mass, my soul was strengthened by a great hope and new graces. I knew that this Holy Mass has effects for my soul in eternity and that they last independently of what will happen to my body on Earth. It was a treasure that we were accumulating in this life, risking the loss of the temporal life. Thus, we valued this brief time of experiencing the mysteries of our faith in communion with those who believed in the same way. We valued our common prayer at the voice of the priest and staying together if only for this short time face to face with God present among us. The Holy Communion that we received could be our last meal for the road to Heaven, for the time of trial and persecution. The time of the Holy Mass elapsed inexorably quickly, and we had to go back to our homes and to the society in which talking about the things that mattered the most to us, Christians, was dangerous.
The blessing of the priest was a strength that was carried out from the Holy Mass. It had to be enough for all the time until the next Holy Mass, which was never a sure thing, because at each subsequent meeting we were hearing about further persecutions. We prayed for those who did not come anymore to the next Holy Mass, for those who suffered in prison and were condemned to death. We prayed for those who were in imminent danger and for those who have already made a sacrifice of their lives. Our thoughts and desires were close to God. We were learning bravery and the price that must be paid for faith. From the Passion of our Lord Jesus, we drew courage and strength to abide in the faith and to stave off fear. We asked for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the whole community of Christians, and especially for the hour of trial, so that we may be able to keep faithfulness. The great testimony of those times was the fruit of the great prayer of entire communities, and not only of individual holiness. People made a sacrifice to God with entire houses, from the youngest to the oldest. These were not individual occurrences, but the sacrifice of the whole Church. You are lacking among you the spirit of community, the love for the Church and the prayers to the Holy Spirit for each other, but the most lacking is the faith in the living presence of God during the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and in His action bearing fruit in real effects for the temporal and the eternal life.
Each Holy Mass is in a way a separate world, which gives back to us its riches for a sincere movement of the heart. Only this once we can receive them and keep them forever. The next Holy Mass those are already different gifts and different graces, but not the same. The grace for a specific moment can not be repeated anymore. These graces are close to one sigh of the heart, but then they disappear. However, during this moment, we can obtain them and then they last forever, for all eternity. Do not waste so much the time of the Holy Mass, because it is a grace the meaning of which you can not even imagine. You can participate every day in this grace, and you do not do it well even once a week. You will not obtain anywhere such great graces as during the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. Only from this Sacrifice flows such power and depth of unity with God, connecting the soul forever with the Person of the Savior. It seems that only saints should live on Earth having so many Holy Masses and so many opportunities to make use of their graces. If you had our faith and so many Holy Masses at every step, you would become a society of angels. Ask the Holy Spirit for true faith, because you have the Holy Masses, and what they will be like depends on your faith.
Saint Agnes: Today I will talk to you about the Holy Spirit. About who He was for us and what place He now occupies in your faith. It seems that He has been moved away from human hearts as incomprehensible and inconceivable. And in our times, receiving Him was the second fundamental sacrament necessary at all to be a Christian. Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we would have been a frightened handful hoping to survive. Only with the Holy Spirit we were Christians in the full sense of the word. The Holy Spirit accompanied all our meetings. We prayed to Him in every difficulty. He was precisely God with us, who taught us to get to know Jesus and to act according to His Will. When we received the Holy Spirit, we became united with Him through this sacrament. Not only at the time of the sacrament, but forever. It is as if He was descending from Heaven to accompany us forever on our way to Heaven. He was like a good mother watching over the development of the child and a guide on a lonely and unknown path.
The care and the guidance of the Holy Spirit manifested themselves on many planes of our lives, not only through the extraordinary graces that we experienced, but through His courage and strength with which He filled us. Sometimes it seems to me that what has been obvious to us, for you became unbelievable. Even though you receive the same sacrament and the same Spirit, through the lack of faith you do not gain such graces and you do not behold such signs as we have been witnesses of. The signs of the Holy Spirit aroused our faith, but without faith there would be no sings; and so today the world lacks both faith and signs. Back in the day, before receiving this sacrament, we prepared for it in a particular way.
These were not just teachings, for the Holy Spirit, by coming, instructed us Himself and gave us the understanding of many Godly affairs. The preparation consisted in opening ourselves to the reception of the Holy Spirit. In order to open ourselves properly, we used fasting and fervent prayer accompanied by mortification. The entire community prayed for those who were to be the recipients of this sacrament. For it is not enough to prepare the mind. One should rather prepare the heart. It is in it that the Holy Spirit will dwell when He will come, and from it He will act upon the mind, the soul, and the whole body of man, and even on the personality that sometimes undergoes an explicit change after the reception of this sacrament. Fainthearted and nervous people became full of courage and peace.
For us, the Holy Spirit was a companion on Earth, a companion of all our prayers and sacrifices. He was not an inaccessible God in Heaven, but precisely the One who descended to us, in order to look after our community and every Christian individually. It was He who led us in action and warned us against the dangers. He gave us dreams and spoke through the elect. He brought us joy and bravery. He dwelt with us and lived with our life, so that we would not remain alone and would not get lost. And today you strive to get to know God without the help of the Holy Spirit. His role and His love are not properly understood. Lord Jesus has sent to us His Spirit so that He might remind us of everything and make us His tools in the plan of the Salvation of the world. Without the Holy Spirit, we can only be seekers of God, but not guides for others. The Holy Spirit gives everything. If you want to have a greater faith, ask precisely the Holy Spirit, because He is the creator of human souls. He transforms them and makes them ripen in grace, so that one day they may bloom with the fullness of His gifts, or rather Him alone, when through His gifts we will accept Him alone in fullness. Pray to the Holy Spirit and you will transform the face of the Church, which will become again a witness and an apostle full of fervor and bravery. May God bless you and support you through His Spirit in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Saint Agnes: Today I will tell you about the priests. A priest called by God to this honor is a treasure for the community of believers and should be treated as such. Since you are surrounded by many, very many priests and you do not value enough this great gift, I want to tell you how we treated priests, to remind you that you still possess a great, great grace of which you are not aware.
Every priest called by God has the blessing of God and brings it everywhere, wherever he will set foot. Regardless of whether he speaks or is silent, he blesses by his presence alone. God granted such a power to his priests, that wherever they will appear, there God enters together with them, and God does not come to destroy, but to cure, to heal, to pour graces and blessings. Thus, the mere presence of a priest is a sanctification of the earth upon which he stands, because together with him stands upon it God Himself, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of the Living God.
Contemporary people have lost their faith in the supernatural calling of the priests and the supernatural power of their ordination. The ordinary man called by God ceases to be an ordinary man through this calling and the graces, which God sends upon him thought the sacrament of priesthood. This sacrament transforms the soul of the future priest and conforms her to the Son of Man. The priest is like a duplicate of the presence of the Son of God on Earth, and this is precisely his calling. He is as though another Anointed One - Christ. God dwells in him to save, and humanly speaking - He grants the priest the power to save through His tools of grace. These are above all extraordinary graces given exclusively to the priests, such as the administration of sacraments, the forgiveness of sins, and the blessing in the name of God. In addition, they also receive other graces that are not the exclusivity of priests, but mainly priests receive them. These are the graces of performing miracles, healing, and releasing from the influence of evil spirits. A layman, even if he would have received great graces, will never ascend to the heights of priesthood, because it is the exclusive choice and grace of God. Thus, the priest is no longer one of us, but the chosen one, who acts, speaks and lives in the name of God, Jesus Christ. In His name he prays for others, apologizes for their sins and asks for graces and blessings. It is as if Jesus Himself was sent again by His Father. Through his union with the Father, he obtains mercy for people; and through his sacrifice, he compensates for their sins.
In the soul of the priest is reflected the image of God, precisely this anointing to a Son of God, a one of a kind resemblance, which unites the Son with the Father. In this resemblance is granted the grace to imitate Jesus Christ on Earth. When the priest crosses the threshold of the house, he enters it as the Son of God and acts in His name. I think that the loss of awareness of this supernatural calling takes away a lot of hope from the contemporary man, because he does not know that God is with him and for him precisely in that priest. In every priest. The more faith one has in the presence and the action of God in the priest, the more God confirms His graces through the service of that priest. I know that Jesus said that whatever we did to our brothers, we did it to Himself. But in the case of the priest, this is a literal statement, because the priest is no longer our brother on Earth, but our Christ.
From this awareness flows great hope and joy. It is wonderful that you pray so much for the priests, but add to this prayer love and gratitude for having so many priests. They themselves do not know their name and value too little their supernatural hands, from which the blessing flows to all souls. Rejoice that you have their hands. If you knew the power of God's priesthood and had to watch every day how your few priests are taken away from you by the world, you would value differently their presence. We had few priests and we strived to protect their lives with all our strength, because their death was a great loss for us. Their death meant the lack of sacraments, the lack of remission of sins and the lack of blessing. The lack of the Holy Mass and the lack of the Holy Communion. Your priests often do not have the awareness of their own grace, but they still have hands that are the hands of God. Even if the world takes away their hearts from you, you still have their hands, which are still the hands of God and give you the treasures of Heaven. The best man will never be even the worst priest. The grace of the sacrament of ordination transforms the soul, as I have said. This is why your fight for priesthood is rightful and blessed, but remember that you still have them. Rejoice from this and thank God in your prayers, because until you have them, you can have everything. Until they live among you, God will act in them. Only when they die, their service ends. This is a great secret of God's grace. The sacrament lasts in every priestly soul. Every. Approach every priest on your knees, because even if his sins were heavier than yours, he is still king among souls and has the authority to rule upon them. You have to pray a lot, but you must not forget about the dignity of every priest, so that his name, chosen by God, would never fall on the ground without respect. For sin does not take away the dignity and the grace of the anointing to a Son of God.
You are incessantly complaining, yet you do not know how fortunate you are, having so many priests. We had very few of them and therefore we continually prayed so that God would call new priests for us. You do not know what a great loneliness it is when a priest dies and there is no other. You are far yet from the suffering and the loneliness, which we had to suffer. You have the great clemency of God that He still preserved for you so many priests. Hold their service in high regard and help them as much as you can, because the devil wants to destroy the world by destroying the priests. When they will be gone, there will be no God in the world. This is a great war that lasts. Our Mother Mary is fighting against this danger. She is the Mother of all the priests and She loves them as Her sons. She treats them like Jesus, offering for them Her tears. It hurts Her very much when they are not loved. Mary is the greatest defender of priests and is always close to them. Pray to Her. She will defend them. Amen.
6. UNCTION OF THE SICK
Saint Agnes: I have told you much about priests and about their supernatural grace. Now I would like to continue this topic in order to reveal it in an even broader light. The priest, seen through the eyes of the earth, is still small in relation to how Heaven sees him. Heaven sees him together with all the graces that he receives and that he grants to the souls. People become the most aware of the power of the priesthood when suffering and death approach them and they are helpless. Jesus heals and saves souls, but it is the priest who presents them to God and obtains for them the necessary graces.
Many times I saw death. I saw the death of the soul brought to God by the priest and the death of a lonely soul, calling the priest in vain. How different were these deaths. There is such a sacrament that opens Heaven for the soul, and this sacrament is the exclusive privilege of the priest. The prayer of the faithful strengthens the suffering and fighting soul in the moment of her passage from this world, but the prayer and the sacrament administered by the priest are a quite different matter. It is not only the grace requested for the peace of the soul and the strength to fight temptations. This is quite different. The sacrament of the unction of the sick or the last sacrament is Christ Himself coming to the soul and the body of man with the provender necessary for the path to Heaven. It happens many times that this sacrament restores strength and health, but I would like to tell you about it in this second context, about the role that it fulfills for the strengthening of the soul, not the body. Since I myself was witness to sad deaths, deaths full of fear and loneliness, I know what great strength is in this sacrament. When our community suffered from the lack of a priest, then death was for us far more terrible, sins were overwhelming us and no one wanted to die during that time. How great is the fear of the soul who knows that she is departing, but there is no priest who would take away her sins. She knows that she must stand before God together with them. There is no price that this soul would not pay then for seeing a priest for the last time. I have also seen souls departing to God in priestly hands, calm and confident.
The priest, by administering the last unction, distances evil spirits that lie in wait for the soul in the last moment, and as if dresses the soul in a festive clothe in which she will enter before the Face of God. This priest, who anoints the soul, stands in a spiritual way besides the departing soul and presents her to God as His child. The signs, which he has made upon her by anointing her, are the signs of Christ who has marked her for eternal life. Standing in front of the Face of God, the soul brings upon her the seal of Christ the Lord, which means that this soul is destined for Salvation, because Christ has decided so by the hands of His plenipotentiary on Earth. Through this sacrament, the priest stands in an invisible way besides the soul in the hour of her death and, by the power of the administered sacrament, intercedes for her with the entire priestly dignity. He testifies for her by virtue of the authority given to him and he rules upon her on the basis of the rights granted to him for that matter. The priest earmarks her for Salvation by forgiving her sins and obtaining the mercy of God for her sins. It is he who accepts the penance, which this soul will no longer manage to perform. This penance is inscribed in the priesthood as the sacrifice of the cross of Jesus Himself. The priest disposes of the grace flowing from the universal reparation of the sacrifice of the cross of Lord Jesus; he grants the soul this grace and frees the soul from her due penance on Earth. That is why the soul dies at peace and for her suffers Lord Jesus Himself, who offered and united His dying with the dying of all souls, and yet this grace is granted only through the priest to chosen souls.
It is necessary to pray for a good death, because death without the priest and the last sacrament is different. It is lonely, even if it would be a death among the most loving persons; the soul dying without sacraments is lonely and frightened. The sacrament about which I am speaking can be administered earlier, not at the very moment of dying, for the priest, by anointing the soul, stands beside her in the hour of death and in this hour defends her with the power of the signs of our Lord made upon her. Pursue the frequent participation in other sacraments, and then you will also receive the grace of receiving this blessed sacrament of passage to the other world. The more you value the sacraments and believe in their power, the more likely you will be to receive them in your last hour. Do not set off to Heaven without the help of the priest, for if you stand before the throne of God without his bailment, you will be defenseless and overwhelmed by sins. If you go to the judgment with the priest, he will be your defender through the power of this sacrament, because Lord Jesus recognizes the decrees of the priest as His own and saves the soul destined by the priest for Salvation. Such is the mystery of this great sacrament, which the dying souls desire. Today already start praying for a good death, because it is the most important moment in the life of man: a birthday for eternity, a birthday for God. May the Almighty God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you and all those who read those words. Amen.
Saint Agnes: I have told you about the most important things that were reviving and supporting our faith. God is the giver of all good. If only man opens his heart to Him, God fills it right away with gifts. The full opening of the heart takes place during the sacrament of penance, which is a personal encounter of the soul with her Savior. No one, who has not carried his faults without a quick hope of forgiveness, does fully understand our situation, but it happened that we did not have the possibility to receive this sacrament. Apologizing alone, and even reparation done on one's own, did not however bring comfort and help because they did not give absolution to the soul. Only the priest has this incomparable power, that in one moment he annihilates all her sins. How many times we have prayed to receive this sacrament. You, except for rare cases, are never praying for it. You can do it every day and you do not realize how great a sacrament you can participate in when you only want to. This is another grace preserved for you that you do not notice. It is only the absence of the priest and the lack of the possibility to give him his sins that makes man able to perceive the great mercy of God in this sacrament. The sins, which are confesses before the priest, simply cease to exist. Jesus forgives them to us on the cross. He is suffering so that we may start everything all over again.
The priest grants absolution in the name of Jesus; it means that God Himself forgives entirely everything that man regrets. The heart of man is then completely emptied of all sins, open wide, so that God may penetrate inside it with His grace of forgiveness and healing. Then true miracles happen. In the soul of man ensues a flourishing of graces. Just as removing a tumor from the body makes the body start working in the right way, in the same manner the soul freed form the burden of sin begins to fulfill its tasks as planned by God. The encounter with God in this sacrament is entirely real. One needs to make use of this gift, because before death often everything can not be said anymore. There is always too little time. This is a true encounter with God on Earth. A full opening fructifies with the fullness of graces. In my days, it was often the case that after a good confession healings ensued not only in the soul but also in the body. The soul and the body of man are closely connected, and one should look for the causes of diseases in the soul, among sins. Those are not always one's own sins and then the sacrament will not bring healing from the disease, but in the majority those are one's own sins and their confession with faith and their true forgiveness and remission by God bring healing. The most important thing about which the contemporary world forgot is the belief that this sacrament removes sin from the depths of the soul and from the surface of the Earth. The chance to receive it can always be the last one; this is why one should not hide any smallest sin, if one is aware of it. You need to open up your heart completely and allow God to enter inside it and call by name its every sin. Otherwise this sacrament is not fully realized, and neglecting it brings great damage to the soul and this soul may not receive the grace of good confession before death. The more one values and respects the sacraments during life, the more grace he will receive through them for the time of death. Amen.
Saint Agnes: You know that I have been avoiding marriage and I pledged my love only to God alone. This was my great strength, because for such a sacrifice the soul receives great graces. However, there are souls called to marriage, so that God may call in them other people to life. Thus, marriage is a particular gift in which God shares with man his act of creation. In the beginning, God removed a rib from Adam and molded it into a woman. Now He brings out from her subsequent people, so that we all make up one human family. This act of creation is even more visible through the physical and spiritual resemblance that we share with our parents.
The family is the smallest form of the great human family, encompassing the whole world and all people. The roles of family members are a mirror image of the perfect relationships, which God initiated by creating man. The man as the head of the family is called to initiate the act of creation, and the woman, as his wife, to carry out his will and to accept the offspring whom God has given him in the image and the likeness of man, so that it may be bone from his bones. The woman, by accepting the will of her husband, shares with him the calling of a new human into the world with her own soul and body, so that the man created by God would reward her humble obedience by accepting her flesh and disposition. In this way, the man and the woman are bound by the act of creation with a new body and soul that God bestows upon them. The formation of the new man and the teaching of the love of God to him are entrusted to the new parents, so that as God was willing to teach the first humans to differentiate between good and evil as disobedience to the Will of God, so they would teach their offspring in His name.
This calling is a great honor and trust from the side of God. In order for a man to be able to perform it according to the will of God, God instituted the sacrament of marriage, which enables the spouses to imitate God in His attributes and protects them from the hurt and the misuse of their most intimate and delicate feelings. Every man is called by God to live and to perform His good Will. The task of the parents is to give direction to the new human being on how to find and to perform this Will, which through his existence will bring good and blessing to the world, because through the calling of every man to life, God wishes to bestow goodness on all other people and to perfect His wounded work so it may return to its original state of perfection and holiness. The sacrament of marriage was instituted for the graces needed by the spouses to fulfill the Will of God. For the human being shaped by them will bring to the world either a blessing or a curse, will speed up the healing of the world or will move it away, will be for other people an angel of Salvation or damnation, will realize the plan of God or distance it from the world, and together with it the joy and the peace which God wants to bestow upon man.
The family is shaping man in the name of God. From her relationship with God depends the future fate of man. Although Satan always lies in wait for souls and tempts them without end, the task of the spouses is to teach their offspring to recognize good and evil. If they have fulfilled their task according to the Will of God, they are not responsible for the wrong choices of their child. However, if they have not fulfilled the Will of God to the end and the bad choices of their offspring arise from their bad choices or neglects, they are fully responsible for the negligence of their calling. The glory of children brings glory to the parents regardless of their behavior, but the glory of the parents conditions the glory of the children. The responsibility for the child lies with the parents until the child's death, although it is the greatest in the first phase of their life, because the most heavy in consequences.
The men and women who wish to accept this honorable and responsible task, God gifts with His blessing, in which He Himself grants them thought the priest the right and the ability to bring forth offspring into the world, and the graces they need to imitate Him in their family. From then on, their bodies are one body, so that from it, as once from the body of Adam, a new man could arise who will be similar to them in all things and will be their joy, bearing their resemblance within himself. From then on, the man and the woman constitute one whole, although they are two persons, as one is God although in Three Persons. Bound by such a strong and inseparable knot of God's blessing, they have as task to imitate God, conforming in all things and uniting their will, so that there would be no contradictions and divisions among them. As the Three Divine Persons possess one Will, so the spouses should possess one will. As Christ possessed two natures of different kinds, so the spouses make one body, despite different natures. As Christ and the Church make one Body, so the man by marrying a woman unites with her into one body and continues to be united to her no matter what it would cost him, for as Christ gave up his life for His Bride, so the man ought to love his wife, sacrificing his life for her. As the martyrs gave their blood to Christ, so the wife ought to give herself to the husband.
Human love is not perfect, but when united with the Divine love through the sacrament of marriage, it is capable of imitating perfectly the Divine love. The sacrament of marriage is the ability of the Holy Spirit, who is the Love of the Father and of the Son, to give birth and bring into the world the love of the Father and of the Son. Through this sacrament, the Holy Spirit descends on the spouses and gives them the love of the Father and of the Son, so that they may give birth to it for the world, multiplying the graces of the Holy Spirit in the world through their blessed offspring. The Holy Spirit gives birth in them and through them, to make everything the love of the Father and of the Son in the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Saint Agnes: The second thing about which I wanted to tell you is prayer. Prayer for a Christian is not a duty, but an air. Without prayer, the soul suffocates and dies. I can not imagine how one can consider oneself a Christian and not pray. Prayer is necessary. It is the first thing that the soul needs from the very morning till the very evening. A pious recitation of prayer is one thing, but the living contact with the Person of the Savior is a fundamental prayer, which is essential to the soul. Without it, the prayer seems dead. The miracle of our faith lies in the fact that we can talk to God Himself, whenever we want and how we want, on any subject. Turning to God is already in itself a form of worship and thanksgiving.
For us, the Christian of the first Church, this living prayer was a discovery of life, and we drew great strength from it. Then, there were not as many forms of prayer as in this day and age. Nor there was such a universal access to the Holy Scriptures. Prayer was rather based on faith and the individual adoration of the soul. I made myself a prayer that I prayed often and that I dictated to you earlier. But prayer was before all the words of the soul spoken with faith and joy, because the awareness itself that man can speak with God Himself, who became man and spoke our language, gives such great joy to the soul.
Your prayer is very rich in words and different beautiful forms, but often it is completely devoid of faith and the appropriate meaning. The most important is the purpose of the prayer and the intention. The awareness that I speak to God Himself and He listens. After, He speaks and I listen. For you, it is rather a monologue, but without true faith in the fact that you speak with a living Person. Thanks to faith, prayer is never boring. It is a meeting with a Friend, to whom one confides everything. Faith also brings God's answers. These answers are often immediate. Sometimes you have to wait for them, but they always are. If you do not listen to the answer, which is a prayer without faith, you can not say that you are truly searching for God, because He is always a living Person who desires dialog. He desires to give, and not only to take.
Pray with the faith that you are being listened to. This is the most important. Then one can obtain everything and the awareness of a living contact with the Person of God gives great strength and joy from the possession of faith. Man learns to rely on God in everything and lives with the awareness of great grace as a child of God. It is precisely the awareness resulting from the living contact with God Himself in prayer that gives the great courage and strength, which characterized the Christians of the first centuries. Today, you lack courage and joy, because your prayers lack faith. But the Holy Spirit gives all this. It is sufficient to ask Him. Thank you for listening to me. I will come tomorrow. May God bless you.
Saint Agnes: The Christian faith was for us, the Romans of the third century, a great discovery. We received the Gospel as a revelation from the bright Heaven and the subsequent truths of faith, which we studied in depth, were entering our lives and transforming them. We wanted to get to know Jesus, our Savior, and find out everything that was possible about Him. This was the case during our common meetings, where the Holy Scriptures were read. Today, you are born surrounded by the faith of your forefathers. Lord Jesus and His mystery are known and proclaimed in all churches. You accept the faith as something normal that accompanies you from childhood and is some kind of a norm. For us, getting to know the subsequent truths of faith was a discovery and a shock. We imbibed this knowledge as the chosen ones and distinguished in grace, to whom was given the grace to recognize the truth. The world around us did not know God and did not seek Him. The world around us did not hear the name of Jesus. The people whom we passed on the streets of Rome were living unaware, not knowing the purpose of life, things past and future, and above all not knowing that they have been redeemed by God, who in His Son descended on Earth to suffer and to announce to us the good news. Life for God was a continuation of His work. We all wanted to be like Him and we were all aware that this precious faith is kept in the world in us as in clay pots, which are today and tomorrow may stop to exist on this Earth. Who then will worship the true God?
Thus, the teaching that we received was for us like bread. We did not allow even a crumble of this precious gift to fall. We desired to get to know and to remember everything, and then to convey well to others, so that they may keep this faith after our death for the coming of our Lord. Yes, we were God's chosen ones, and for that reason the responsibility magnified in us the desire for sacrifice, so that the only holy faith could spread to the whole world and all men could get to know Jesus and the hope, which He has brought to us from Heaven. With every dying Christian, his precious faith and knowledge seemed to die, because during that time faith and knowledge lived in the people who had believed. We buried our priests as holy books, preserving their relics out of respect and for the graces that we hoped to obtain through them, but the knowledge and the faith that they possessed were departing together with them. This is why we strived to listen to their stories with more zeal, like children who, feeling the approaching hour of the death of their parents, ask for matters about which they will never again find out from anybody else.
Everything in this world was passing and only what we had in our hearts was lasting and certain. Thus, we wanted to fill our hearts and fill the hearts of others so that Jesus would live in us and through us. Only later records and paintings came into existence. In my times, they were so rare that we did not have free access to them, and even these works were often destroyed. Today, you are not afraid that the only Christ in the world is the One in you. Holy images are available everywhere. The same is true of the Gospel and the Holy Scriptures. However, this abundance does not translate into faith. On the contrary. Having too much, you have ceased to perceive the value of these things. It seems to you that the world of faith is like an obvious norm, not a miracle and a choosing. The truths of faith are received as a theory that one does not need to comprehend, let alone introduce into life. All that was life to us, for you is the shadow of life. It is accompanying it, but from behind, from the side, on the shelf. In the midst of many objects speaking about God and representing God, you have lost what is the most important. The faith. The faith is the pearl for which Jesus will return. And when He will come, who among you will keep it pure and beautiful? Be concerned about this true pearl, because it is becoming increasingly rare in the world.
Holy Spirit: The priest blesses with the authority of God. On behalf of God. The blessing of the priest is the blessing of Christ. If the priest blesses the union of two people, it becomes a marriage because the power of the priest is the power of God. Whatever the priest binds on Earth is bound in Heaven. The blessing of the priest has an eternal power and value; it commits reality to yield to the will of God.
The blessing of lay people draws only from the blessing of the priest, because the blessing of the priest comes directly from God, and the blessing of lay people is its derivative. The graces flowing from the cross are granted to mankind through the mediation of priests. The cross is a force and an exorcism in itself, so making it with faith always brings its blessing upon the world, upon specific persons or matters. This is why parents should bless children, spouses should bless each other. You should bless people, food, animals, rooms, sick places in the body. You do not use directly the power of Christ through this, but you draw from the redemptive grace of the cross of Christ.
The difference in the blessing of a priest and a layman is such as the difference between Christ and His cross. In the first case, Christ Himself blesses, and in the second the blessing flows from the cross upon the power of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, which sanctified the cross.