The Study of Church History-1

The study of church history has deep implications in the way I experience life as a catholic. One such important implication is the awareness of the fact that our understanding of the tenets of faith develops over time. It comes as a surprise to the uninitiated in church history that even certain things held in high esteem today, such as the sacraments, to give an example, did not exist in their present form as we practice them today. When I teach the history of the sacraments to adult classes, it is always a delight to observe the students’ reactions to examples that show that the seven sacraments in their present form did not magically drop from the sky following Jesus’ ascension (anointing of the sick being performed by the laity, different forms of celebrating the reconciliation rite, etc). Instead of a historically deficient understanding, I try to show them the fruits of the historical research and renewal called forth by the Second Vatican Council retrieved previous emphases, long forgotten through the centuries. A better understanding of the sacraments as encounters with Christ was taught, along with a renewed emphasis on the communitarian aspects and also a renewed emphasis on the Word of God present in all sacramental rites. In this new series of posts, I will consider the implications of having historical consciousness in the practice of one’s faith.

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