So many people help us build our lives, form our personalities, and develop our life projects. Think, for example, of the teachers who’ve helped you through your life… Or spouses, who walk together in marriage, with their family, toward a shared goal: Heaven.

Let's walk

The Gospels show us Jesus walking in many different places. And when He walks, He walks with others: the apostles and many other people who followed Him from city to city, destination to destination.

We walk a lot in our lives. In a way, life is a journey: we walk a path set out by God, traveling it in our own way, freely.

Sports give us so many images of the way other people help us as we walk. St. Paul compared Christian life to a race… And don’t athletes have coaches, friends, and fans encouraging and supporting them as they move toward the finish line. Coaches help them improve their technique, identify and correct their mistakes, and overcome moments of discouragement. And public races often have spectators cheering the runners on, often without even knowing who they are. Some people applaud or shout encouragement, while others offer water at critical points in the race.

And when those athletes, who are limited but struggling (like all of us!), feel accompanied and encouraged, they draw strength from weakness. Sometimes they even exceed their own expectations and run faster than they'd thought possible.

The sacraments cause something similar. God is our biggest fan, and He believes in us. He knows our weaknesses and limitations even better than we do, and He stands up for us. That’s what happens in the sacraments: God sees our need and comes to help us. The difference between our goal – holiness – and the strength we need to reach it are so clear. We need God’ help.

The first three sacraments, called the sacraments of Christian initiation, begin God's life in our soul through grace. It means immersing ourselves and participating in God's own life.

Ready, set, go: Baptism

In Baptism, God fills us with his graces and transforms our person, making us his children. He cleanses our soul from the burden of original sin. He lightens our burdens so we can run to Heaven. And He adds us to “his team,” the Church. We begin the race accompanied by our brothers and sisters, with encouragement and care from our family. And we’re assured that we belong – something that’s very important for all human beings.


Confirmation gives us the strength of God through a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is like a “punch” of vitamins and protein to strengthen the soul, preparing us for the battle against the enemy we’ll meet one way or another, often through an environment that tries to lull us into giving up the fight and surrendering.

Confession for the falls

Confession (also called “penance” or “reconciliation”) becomes very necessary on the journey. We fall over and over again. Our strength and courage falter. We’re tempted to believe that the challenge we have set for ourselves by divine inspiration is too much for us. When we go to this sacrament, the priest, who represents God, gives us God’s forgiveness and encouragement. He tells us to have courage, because with God’s help, we can get up again.

The Eucharist, bread for the journey

At the same time, every athlete must receive a balanced diet to keep their body in shape for the test. The Eucharist fulfills this role in the Christian life. This "bread of angels," as the Church's liturgy calls it, is none other than Christ Himself who, becoming small, becomes the pilgrim's food. The Holy Mass is the center of the Christian life, the greatest source of strength. Communion strengthens us and unites us to Jesus at the deepest possible level.

Mission: Matrimony & Holy Orders

For many people, marriage is their specific way of running to the goal, their vocation (or calling). Spouses run together, and the responsibilities of family and marital commitment are a help. They are a grace that makes overcoming obstacles lighter and very beautiful. In addition, spouses, by starting a family, prepare their children to be good Christians and pass on the testimony of faith to them. A family “team” is formed whenever genetic ties and the bond of faith go together. The family’s ultimate desire is, of course, for everyone to reach the goal: Eternal Glory.

Some men play a fundamental role in this journey of humanity: the priests. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, they participate in Christ’s priesthood. In his name, they distribute the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. They are also good advisors through spiritual accompaniment. They accompany us in the various circumstances of our life until the end of our earthly existence.

Anointing of the Sick, for the end of the race

Naturally, our strength often falters near the end of the race. The athlete has very little left to give, and the challenges they’ve overcome and illnesses they’ve suffered have taken a toll. This is a decisive moment, and God gives us a special grace to face it through the Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament fills Christian souls with peace and strength for the last sprint.

As you can see, we’re doubly privileged by being called to the race of life and by the desire to reach the goal that God put in our hearts. Our longing for happiness comes from God Himself and brings us back to Him. What we’re really longing for is total communion with God, being with Him in eternity. He walks with us through the sacraments to help us reach the goal and be very happy with Him starting now, on earth. He wants us to win the trophy at the end of the race and to be happy with Him, with our Lady, and with all the saints in Heaven.