Sacrament: an outward sign of an inward grace, that has been instituted by Jesus Christ
Updated: Jan 29
That is a very important definition in regards to a lot of things as a Catholic Christian but especially to me personally regarding my ongoing recovery from mental disorder.
The definition that I stated in the title of this post is the classic one issued by St. Augustine way back when.
I've always liked that definition partly I must confess because in my younger days sacraments seemed to be like some sort of "magic" that would guarantee an infusion of God's Grace directly into my life via some simple and rather benign rituals of Faith.
The problematic word in that statement being guarantee. I am pretty sure that none of the sacraments are guaranteed to "work", if you'll allow that phrase, if you or I am not of a proper "disposition" to receive them.
I'm pretty sure that means that you have to have the right intentions too.
I CAN GUARANTEE YOU... the Sacraments are definitely NOT magic. (Let me make that clear.)
I just mention that "temptation" to think of them as such because it gives an insight into my own spiritual, mental and YES physical (think wonky brain chemistry if you must) disorder at the time that thought it in need of some "good magic", like that even exists. (Nothing could be further from the truth if you ask me.)
Everything in a "good" religion though, I contend, will have elements that appeal to all the DANGEROUS and malicious tendencies that we are so often tempted to as "fallen" creatures.
Those empty spaces in our hearts that we try to fill with God knows what are in fact the perfect "resting place" for Our Lord's Grace or Help if you will.
Wait... how can empty space in our hearts and souls be a place for God's Help to find rest?
Simple... because that is where Jesus Christ fulfills His SAVING Mission every day, to each of us that listens to His Call and responds with "Thy Will be done Lord".
He WILL NOT and CANNOT violate your person by helping you if you truly don't want Him to.
The Sacraments (and a "sacramental" way of looking at things and living, I contend) are useless without the "good soil" of an understanding conscience and free will.
Believe me, a conscience (or knowing right from wrong) can be misinformed to the point of being eclipsed and free will can be restricted and even taken away.
FORTUNATELY... we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, that knew what He was getting into BEFORE He hung on that symbol of our brutality to both God and ourselves, the Cross, and He planned way ahead beyond the point where you or I or anyone throughout history loses hope.
There IS ENOUGH Grace for EVERYONE. Infinite if you can believe or comprehend that!
A little thought provoking etymology (word origins) to finish up here:
Latin word (per Wikipedia)
Tertullian, a 3rd-century Christian writer, suggested that just as the soldier's oath was a sign of the beginning of a new life, so too was initiation into the Christian community through baptism and Eucharist.
Whoa whoa whoa there now! Before ye accuse me of being on some kind of malevolent "Christian" warpath having anything to do with condoning any kind of violence other than some occasional "righteous indignation" directed at the "money-changers in the Temple", I'll just state right out, AGAIN, that the only army that I belong to is Christ's.
He is truly the "Super-Soldier" (playfully hinted at in the comic-books) that laid down the path and pattern for all his "army" which is to have "no greater love than this, than to lay down one's life for one's friends." ~ John 15:13
An impossible task were it not for the Grace of Forgiveness that tills the soil in which we work.
Uhhht.... I did it again, suggested to myself the topic of another future blog post:
"Forgiveness" (I'll just give you a hint of my take on it... not only is it truly needed only "once in a lifetime", it must be practiced throughout eternity, but don't quote me on that! I don't need people coming at me with torches, shovels and pitchforks in the middle of the night.)
Oh yeah... and it is a two-way street when it comes to our fellow human beings.