wondering

I’m wondering about this thing I hear called “the sacramental life.” Its almost like its a secret or something. I know what sacraments are, but I’m not sure I understand how they refer to all of life. Can anyone help me out?

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2 responses to “wondering

  1. I’m no expert on this question, but am interested by it too. Let me try to put it in a nutshell. For a full answer, you’ll want to check out Alexander Schmemann’s ‘For the Life of the World’, which is one of the few must-have classics of Orthodox theology.

    Here’s a key idea from p.17. Schmemann is critiquing a non-sacramental view of the world, namely, one that accepts an all-embracing secularism that relegates God to an artificially created “sacral” space. The result is: “When we see the world as an end in itself, everything becomes itself a value and consequently loses all value, because only in God is found the meaning (value) of everything, and the world is meaningful only when it is the “sacrament” of God’s presence. Things treated merely as things in themselves destroy themselves because only in God have they any life. The world of nature, cut off from the source of life, is a dying world.”

    A sacramental view rejects the nature vs. supernature, sacred vs. profane, dualism that has allowed Westerners to secularize creation. Rather, the starting point for sacramental thought is the Incarnation, which by uniting God to the material world, has hallowed matter and creation in such a way that no secular space can exist. All has been made holy by the coming of the Son of God.

    There’s a lot more to it, of course. For instance, think of the way that liturgical time transforms the way we approach the year. For example, most of us secular Protestants live according to the ’24hr/7day/12 months a year’ sense of time. But in a sacramental worldview time itself is transformed into the liturgical year of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, etc. Rules of prayer, such as the Prymer, help even to transform every hour into a moment of specific theological signifcance. The result is that every inch of chronological space is imbued with deep Christological, even Trinitarian significance and ultimately helps to contribute to the process of deification in our lives. As we offer up the world back to God, we end up placing our lives in His hands.

    The Orthodox seem to have thought much more about this then we semi-pagan Protestants (or evangelicals).

    In Him,
    Climacus

  2. Thanks Climacus. It’s interesting that my sister showed me the very book you mention last night! She and her husband attend an Orthodox church now. I also found this link helpful:
    http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/sacraments_e.htm

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