Sacramental Principle

We began our University of St. Thomas Center for Ministry staff meeting yesterday by watching a video clip of Michael Himes talking about sacramentality as a (rather, the) central Catholic principle that, among other things, undergirds the efforts of Catholic universities to educate their students.

Himes suggests that the sacramental principle the heart of the Catholic understanding of the Christian traditions.  He explains the sacramental principle in this way:

If something is always and everywhere the case, it must be noticed, accepted and celebrated somewhere sometimes.  What is always true must be noticed as true at a particular time and in a particular place.  Thus in creation, all of which is grounded in grace, those points – persons, things, places, events actions – which cause us to notice the presence of grace are what we speak of as sacraments.  What can be sacramental?  Anything?  How many sacraments are there?  As many as there are things in existence in the universe.

Those of us formed by an Ignatian spirituality often talk about finding God in all things. And that is what Himes is getting at – the idea that if we truly behold what is really there  – that is, of we see and more fully what really is rather than as we expect, hope, fear or desire – what we will find is the infinite presence and power of grace.


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