Coptic boys pray in ruined Egyptian church.
Without the outward signs in the Sacraments we could not know when or with what effect the grace of the Sacraments enters into our souls. - Baltimore Catechism
I've been writing with great joy on how the Ethiopian Orthodox have been 'using' the church across the street from me each Sunday since Divine Mercy Sunday. (The church is Seventh Day Adventist and they have service on Saturdays, which allowed the Ethiopians to use it.)
I don't know what happened, but they are not there this Sunday. I'm not sure if they found another church or returned to their original church, since I surmised there had been some sort of rift among them. Evidently not everyone in their group got the message Liturgy would not be celebrated at the rented church today since a few Ethiopians have come and gone this morning.
From Ethiopian Church of St. George.
I feel sad.
How much I wanted a Catholic church across the street - and I was not at all disappointed that the Orthodox happened to be the Catholics using it each Sunday. Why is it important they be Catholic? What is so special about Catholics? It is precisely this: the Liturgy and the Sacraments - made possible only because of the ordained priesthood. Other Protestant churches have the 'form' of religion, but not the 'power' - they cannot confect the Eucharist, nor can their ministers absolve a penitent from sin.
A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. - Baltimore Catechism
The absence of the Ethiopians this morning reminded me of what it must be like in Mosul or Kirkuk now that the Christians have been exiled, and Mass is no longer celebrated there. It left me with a very deep empty feeling and sadness.
What would I do, what would you do without the Mass? Without the Sacraments? Without the Blessed Sacrament? What would we do without priests?
Even the most unorthodox priest retains the power to confect the Eucharist, to absolve from sin, to anoint and prepare us for heaven.
What if we were deprived of this grace? What if all of our churches were closed and we had no place to worship? Not even able to have a clandestine Mass in some hidden place because there were no priests?
The Sacraments have been instituted as a special means through which we are to receive the grace merited for us by Christ. As Christ is the giver of the grace, He has the right to determine the manner in which it shall be given, and one who refuses to make use of the Sacraments will not receive God's grace. - Baltimore Catechism
Never miss Mass on Sundays if you can help it. Never omit regular-frequent confession. Never withhold your support from the Church. Always respect every priest - even when you believe him to be unfaithful - because he can still administer the sacraments.
Be faithful - even when others are not - because God is always faithful.
The effect of the Sacraments does not depend on the worthiness or unworthiness of the one who administers them, but on the merits of Jesus Christ, who instituted them, and on the worthy dispositions of those who receive them. - Baltimore Catechism