35 And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.
36 Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.”
A good friend of mine is a Methodist Elder (at the time, he was a provisional pastor), and when writing his Thesis, he decided to 1 – Do it on sacramental theology and 2 – Decided to hit up the Catholic. I jokingly said it was because we had more sacraments… so I was a likely choice.
That said, we talked, and we both agreed that Sacraments are more then simply symbols, that it is something tangible by which we know the Lord in our midst.
Thats a good middle ground – The classic definition is such
Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification (Catechismus concil. Trident., n. 4, ex St. Augustine, “De Catechizandis rudibus”)”
Pretty intense stuff. In Short, they are a sure fire way for us to know, and show how God works in our lives. We have the Sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Communion, Confirmation) The Sacraments of Service (Ordination and Matrimony) and the Sacraments of Healing (Penance and anointing of the sick (formally Extreme Unction or Last Rights)
These 7, while different, all exhibit one aspect. We have a God, who is very much present, and works in a rather manifest way, in our lives. This is why sacraments not only are Trans formative (a difference between Catholic/Orthodox understanding and mainstream Protestantism), but they are also indicative and s sign of God’s grace. Grace transforms us. It can embolden us, it can heal us, and it can very often use us (Marriage and Ordination, being on the same level, do this )
All of this matters because they are the chief conduant of a Living God, one who works through us, with us, and in us.
Its no surprise then , thats really the first thing that we started seeing go away if we look at things historically – The first thing the reformation contested was Sacraments. They became “Symbolic” for many, and “Ordinances (IE, Rites of Passage) for the more reformed theologians. When you take out the real presence that Sacraments show, you have taken away their effectiveness.
This has been exasperated the last 50 years. Even among us Roman Catholics, frankly, sacraments have become a circus. If its not parents shoving each other out of the way to get the perfect picture of their little one receiving first Holy Communion, Its the Bridezillas taking over churches and running both Pastor and musician crazy so they can have the perfect day. The Parents have no concept who their Children are receiving, and the “Happy Couple” has no idea who they are called to bring to the world.
We can go deeper and look at ordinations, which have become viewed as some sort of thing that is owed (particularly to a gender that has its own holiness; I digress). Its all the same though, instead of something that should be Christocentric, Its become anthrocentric, and thus has been profaned. Instead of praying for the dead (2 Mac 12), we instead are incredibly sensitive to the loss. So we create a fairy tale of how everyone instantly goes up, and why? Because it makes us feel good. We don’t realize the incredible spiritual assault that every soul goes through in transition, let alone the ones who actually GET to purgatory (sorry…not everyone even makes it that far).
Its all about US..rather then how WE can get closer to him. This is why every denomination out there is broken right now, and most of all..We Roman Catholics. We tout how we are the original…but we look nothing like we should.
So why shouldn’t we have problems? In order to claim God is with us, we have to first understand he is God, and instead we have made God’s of ourselves through our egos. Sacramental theology, in its purity, says ONE THING. We are helpless, and the only person who CAN help us, is Jesus.