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Celebrations of Grace: The Sacraments of the Catholic Church
By Jack Hartjes
4. Liking the Sacraments
Catholics through the ages have loved the sacraments and loved the grace, the closeness to God, they find in the things they do in church. Other things that happen in our everyday lives, however, bring out in us more various and down-to-earth emotions. We enjoy them, we suffer them, we endure them, we get wild about them, we feel bound by them, or we freely commit ourselves to them. When you look close enough, all these things turn out to be graces, too. Catholics are beginning to acquire this clearer view of graces outside the church building, and I believe the sacraments are playing a big role in this change.
I used to picture what sacraments do vertically, like
this: Sacraments lift us up out of the ordinariness of life with a unique
grace and presence of God (so naturally we love the sacraments). As I imagine
it now, sacraments do this only after they point us in a number of different directions—backward
to the presence of God that has been ours all along in the world, forward to
what God is calling us to be and, especially, outward to the grace that is
alive in people and things all over God's world. And, in the traditional
language of Church teaching, all this that the sacraments mean, what they point
to, is not just signified, not just an idea or a memory; it's “really present.”
Does the liturgy that you participate in feel like something that draws you away from everyday life? Prepares you for life? Celebrates your life? What is it about the liturgy that does any of these things?