I notice the warmth of the sun on my back. I feel the gentle breeze in my hair. Hearing the birds is like a childhood lullaby. The smell of rain is on the horizon. The promise of spring is beneath my feet. It’s all around me.
Living in a climate that spends 6+ months under a blanket of snow, one becomes relatively ecstatic about spring. The fact that I took a picture of my “spring” shoes is evidence of this (see yah later winter boots!).
Alright. So, why the springtime sentiment?!
I spent some time thinking on the way in which humans experience events, seasons, moments etc. We do this through our senses; sight, touch, smell, sound and taste. Although we know this fact already, it says something about a human. We need concrete tangible signs and symbols to understand realities around us. To understand who we are.
Sometimes we just need a hug (even if were not the affectionate type). This physical touch is a reflection of ones love/appreciation for the other
An apology in person. To actually hear someone say sorry or ask for forgiveness. These words from the heart are appreciated more than a long winded text or letter
To eat and drink at a celebration; weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. We often use food and drink as a way to experience joy and happiness among our friends and family. The food provides a place and platform to socialize and enjoy each others company!
So, whats the connection between the Church and her sacraments?!
Let me turn to the wisdom of the Catechism of the Catholic Church who in speaking of the sacraments writes,
“… In human life, signs and symbols occupy an important place. As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols. As a social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions. the same holds true for his relationship with God” (CCC #1146).
This means that our relationship and connection to God is so attainable for the ordinary human being. Although God is above us in every way, he uses simple, tangable realities to communicate with us. To come to us. He has given us the five senses to understand the earthly world, so that we might come to understand the Divine!
The sacraments are an incredible gift to mankind. It is God coming to meet us on earth. He comes to us in our sin, in our difficulties, in our joys. He is here on earth. Here in every Catholic Church. Here in every sacrament. Here in every person.
Baptism: uses water so that we might truly receive Holy Spirit. To wash away original sin and give us eternal life.
Penance/Confession: uses words to ask and seek forgiveness from a merciful God. We express our failures aloud to make this covenant, this vow to remain faithful.
Eucharist/Communion- uses bread & wine to bring the real presence of Jesus Christ in our midst. That men and women can enter into this Supper of the Lamb where they eat the Body and drink the Blood of Chris to be transformed into Him who is love!
These are just 3 of the 7 sacraments which are given to the Church and institued by Christ himself. Each sacrament uses some simple, earthly reality to bring God to His people on earth. He is definitely telling us something about himself! He is not a lofty idea, an unreachable being. He is a Father who has come to earth as Jesus Christ, and who by the power of the Holy Spirit remains present in the sacraments today. Therefore, we use our senses to receive God himself! It is in the water, the bread, the wine and the oils that God is made present.
“God speaks to man through the visible creation. the material cosmos is so presented to man’s intelligence that he can read there traces of its Creator.16 Light and darkness, wind and fire, water and earth, the tree and its fruit speak of God and symbolize both his greatness and his nearness” (CCC # 1147).