Sacramentality

Our annual Conference of Catholic Legal Thought gatherings always include, in addition to daily mass, a session devoted to spiritual reflection. Some years I lead the session and in others, the session is led by Greg Kalscheur, a Jesuit who teaches at Boston College Law School. This year, Greg led our session.

One of the things Greg invited us to pray with is the final contemplation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the Contemplation to Attain Love. In introducing the contemplation, Greg shared an excerpt from a piece by Michael Himes titled, Finding God in All Things: A Sacramental Worldview and its Effects. Himes writes

In the Catholic tradition, we call the occasions when grace is made effectively present for us sacraments….By sacrament, I mean any person, place, thing, or event, any sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell, that causes us to notice the love which supports all that exists, that undergirds your being and mind and all the beings of everything about us.

How many such sacraments are there, asks Himes. The answer is a “virtually infinite number,” for there is absolutely nothing that cannot be a sacrament.

If there is one thing that defines what it means to be Catholic, I think it is this sense of sacramentality. As Himes observes, the “Catholic conviction is that if one sees what is there to be seen, one will discover grace, the love that undergirds all that exists…[A]t its best and wisest, Catholicism is shaped by the conviction that grace lies at the root of all reality.”

If we only but look, we can find God in all things.

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