Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sacramentals-Batteries For The Soul

Romans 1:20 Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse

There are many people who are moved emotionally and spiritually by nature. Mountain vistas have often moved me to contemplate the divine. Perhaps it is the immensity of ranges such as the Rockies or the softer, rounder curves of the smaller Appalachians, but I find it difficult to deny the existence of God when I am looking at such scenes.

Does the fact that I feel God’s presence when I am observing nature mean that nature itself is somehow divine? No. It merely means that, for me, the beauty of nature assists me in being open to the God’s ever present Grace. Nature doesn’t produce that Grace, God does.

God loves us intensely. He wants to reach our hearts. But we sometimes underestimate how well he understands human natures. He didn’t create one dimensional creatures but sensual beings who depend on all five senses to process the world around us.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus used mud and spit in John 9:6 to heal a blind man? Was it because mud and spit somehow have magical properties? No, of course not. The power to heal came from Jesus, himself, not the mud and not even his spittle, but God is not above using material from our world to connect with us.

Being human, there are moments when we feel distant from God. Perhaps we have too many bills or are worried about our marriage. In reality, God is still as close as always because we have his ever present grace with us. The problem is with us, not God. Some people, during these moments, put on religious music to recharge their soul, to reconnect with God. Sacred music, of course, does not produce grace but it can put us in a more receptive frame of mind.

Sacramental (Not sacraments) are items such as holy water and blessed candles, and rites such as exorcism and actions such as genuflection that moves us to cooperate with and receive God’s grace. In other words, they help recharge us and make us mentally more receptive to receiving God’s grace.

The Catechism states: 1677 Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church. They prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life.
1678 Among the sacramentals blessings occupy an important place. They include both praise of God for his works and gifts, and the Church's intercession for men that they may be able to use God's gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel.
1679 In addition to the liturgy, Christian life is nourished by various forms of popular piety, rooted in the different cultures. While carefully clarifying them in the light of faith, the Church fosters the forms of popular piety that express an evangelical instinct and a human wisdom and that enrich Christian life.

Due to the fact that I get many questions concerning the use and reasons behind Catholic Sacramentals I have decided that in further posts I will explain individual sacramentals, such as holy water.

My goal is not to convert anyone, simply to edify. I realize that some Catholic acts such as genuflecting or lighting candles can seem strange or even ritualistic but hopefully future posts will at least enlighten my non Catholic friends as to why we Catholics do these things.

By the way, if you like the title of this blog, thank my youngest son, Christopher. After reading this article for me, he came up with the title.

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