From the Evangelist desk.
Assignment title: What is sacrament and what is its place in Christian life?
This is an extract of an essay I am attempting to write for the church. I share my joys and frustrations with you.
I tried and tried to work and produce something that I could claim to be my own.
I then deleted the original documents in question and thought enough is enough, I cannot do this. I was then drawn to the rich knowledge base of books that I have had the privilege to read. And the sentence below jumped out at me.
‘Any object or event is sacramental in which transcendent is perceived to be present. Sacramental objects are holy objects, laden with divine power- Paul Tillich
I thought about this and then spent my Devotional time asking God to guide me and fill me with inspiration to produce this assignment. A calm and peace then filled my angry head and I relaxed smiling. The idea was forming and I now write feeling confident.
Therefore I ask, does this make this essay sacramental? If it is agreed that my meditation on the Lord Does make a transcendent act, am I therefore writing something that could be classed as sacramental?
There Church both Anglican and Catholic are agreed on certain sacraments.
The sacrament was classed as the seven sacraments. That being Holy Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Order, Holy Matrimony and Unction.
These have been split into the greater and lesser sacraments. The two greater are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
5th century Augustine noted that in general terms in his time anything in the world could be counted as a sacrament since all creation was a sign of God.)
If we agree with St. Augustine’s statement above, does that mean as created beings, we are in the realms of being possible sacramental? How do we become sacramental?
I would suggested that committing to the Lord on a daily basis asking Him to put us where He wants us, interacting with those who need us, on His behalf, is going a long way to living a sacramental life.
Sacraments can still be broadly defined as ‘a sign’ or symbol of something which is sacred and mysterious. Sacred objects can involve worship and meditation; sacred objects can be statutes, pictures, prayer beads etc.
If the above statement by Joseph Mortos is correct, then there are many possible sacraments that many Christian’s may not recognise and use today. I list but a few that come to mind.
1. The sacrament of Worship. I would suggest that all worship is sacramental, because we have the focus of the Divine and wish to praise God for all that he has done. With the worship we will receive the ‘Word’, teaching and with many denominations, the Eucharist as the fundamental pivotal part of the service. I would suggest that Worship is one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life, whatever the age. As stated in Christopher Cocksworth and Rosalind Browns book, ‘To draw the people afresh. Not leading the Service, but leading in service. Assisting the community to maximise its encounter with Christ to Draw people to this sacramental element is such a privilege and I believe one that should be taught afresh after Confirmation and Baptism.
2. The sacrament of Meditation. The church offers Christians a good foundation with regards to mediation. This ranges from Guided Prayer, St. Igneous Spiritual Journey, plus many books that can be used individually or in small group sessions, books including New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I would suggest that it would be good to introduce Christians to an introduction on Meditation.
3. The use of sacred objects, including beads. I feel that many Christians both Anglican and Catholic carry Prayer Beads. But by the same token, many Christians I know frown upon the fact that others use the Prayer Beads to assist them with their time of intersession, or prayer time. They suggest that the use of such as Prayer Beads can be classed as Idolatry, but I would counter this argument easily by pointing out that if the Prayer Beads are used to assist the person with their focus on Prayer to the Lord, they are of sacramental help. But if the object becomes the centre of the session, then I strongly suggest that it would indeed be a form of idolatry.
If we agree that Prayer Beads, or alike are sacramental, where they are used by the physical to focus on the Mystical to draw them to prayer, do we also believe that the same beads are not sacramental unless they have been blessed by a Priest? I would suggest that some people would feel better using something like prayer beads if they were blessed by a Priest, because that user will feel that they have received the authority of the church and God to use the item to deepen their faith.
Just a quick note, the above essay is a summary of the original, which was 2078 words long. I am sorry for using the material for the parish magazine, but alas time is short and I am now writing a new essay, because I have been guided and told this one is not what is expected.
Keep well everybody and may God both Bless and Keep you.
Yours in Christ.
© Rick Hayes, July 2010