Each sacrament helps open a door to God
I have been teaching as part of the ministry formation program of our diocese for a number of years. The program, offered in partnership with Siena Heights University, is designed to provide theological formation for those who seek to serve as professionals in ministry in our parishes, those who are discerning the call to the permanent diaconate, and for any adult who wishes to learn more about the riches of our Catholic faith. During my time with the program, I have had the opportunity to teach on a variety of subjects. For this winter term I am scheduled to teach my favorite subject, which is the sacraments. In essence, teaching this particular course gives me the opportunity to reflect upon and teach about that which is at the very core of my priestly ministry – the celebration of the sacraments.
The textbook I use for the class is titled, Doors to the Sacred, and is authored by Joseph Martos. I've been using that text for years, and one of the reasons I chose it was because of its title: Doors to the Sacred. The title is rich in meaning, but the most important sense is that each of the seven sacraments provides a means to enter into deeper relationship with God by opening doors that help us to see and experience God's love for us in very beautiful and concrete ways.
The sacraments, in their beauty and diversity, each help us to recognize and respond to God's love for us in a manner which makes that love personal. Each of the sacraments, through word, gesture, matter and form, helps open a door to God whose love for each of us is personal, sensible and close. Speaking in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul reminds us that “God is not far from any of us and that in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27-28) The sacraments are a primary means by which we constantly encounter the closeness of God, who wishes to be an intimate part of our lives. At Christmas we recalled the event by which God drew so intimately close to us through the mystery of the Incarnation. God takes on our human flesh, our life and living, in order to draw us into a more personal relationship. Each sacrament is a means by which God continues to draw close to each of us.
In the year ahead we will be exploring the beauty of the sacraments through a variety of personal stories. I hope and pray that as we open these doors to the sacred, all of us will have an opportunity to reflect upon our sacramental experiences, and how each sacrament opens doors for us to experience individually and collectively the love and life of God. And so our journey in FAITH continues.