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Sacramental Understanding and Living

“We go to church… in order to have our eyes opened to see the goodness which God bestowed upon creation… We begin to see God revealed in and through God’s own creation… It is this vision which we lost through sin – it is not the case that the world is totally depraved because of sin but rather that we have lost the ability to see and to have our proper place in creation.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“We see the world of God’s creation spread before us, its splendor awakening us to offer thanks to Him who crowns us “with glory and honor” (Ps 8:5). Science itself invites us to open our eyes to the complexities and wonders of creation. How wonderful are the myriad ways by which God draws us to Himself!” (Dynamis 6/8/2020)

“Learning to open our eyes to the source of our actions and the absolute need for the grace of the Holy Spirit in order to change our hearts is the most fundamental understanding in our daily life before God. There are a myriad of other things to think about in our faith, many of them serving as religious distractions from the essential work of repentance. It is easier to argue points of doctrine than to stand honestly before God in prayer or confession. Doctrine is important…but only as it makes Christ known to us. But the knowledge of Christ that saves is not the knowledge one gains as mere information – but rather the knowledge one gains inwardly as we repent, pray, forgive, and humble ourselves before God. The promise to us is that the “pure in heart shall see God. Doctrine is not known until it becomes united to the heart in a continual act of communion with God.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“To open our eyes, or perhaps better said, to see clearly, we first have to open and cleanse our hearts. A large part of how we do this is this through the continual and joyful repentance. As we grow spiritually from this cleansing, we wash the dirt out of eyes and our vision becomes clearer. We begin to see that everything in life is integrated, not segregated. We understand that there is one reality, sacramental reality, and perceive in greater measure, proportionate to our growth over time, the connection and harmony of creation and people. We see through the fallacy of “God up there and us down here” and begin to live this true reality which gives everything we do in life sacred meaning no matter how mundane it feels. Nothing much changes on the outside but our experience of life dramatically changes for the better because we are living and acting in true knowledge. But this takes time, commitment, and daily diligence; the same effort we often mistakenly put as our highest priority into temporal things that do not see us past the grave.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“I can easily be distracted from the “signs” with which God is choosing to reveal Himself in my life, through the situations and human beings in my immediate surroundings. I can become preoccupied with other issues, like far-away events I follow in the news (never satisfying), or even the weather, in a way that distracts me from my immediate responsibilities; in a way that distracts me from the presence of Christ and His signs in my own life. So let me keep my heart and my eyes wide open today, to the signs of my Lord’s presence in the people and situations He sends me in the here and now.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“Creation has a sacramental purpose: it reveals God….the…rejection of sacramentalism is the beginning of naturalism, or it at least opens the door to its possibility. It is also the beginning of a certain evacuation of the sacred as a presence in the world.” (Father Stephen Freeman, James K.A. Smith)

“In the modern world, we have largely lost this sacramental way of looking at things. One of the reasons so many people become victims of disordered pleasures, such as drugs, immorality, watching horror movies, or thrill seeking through dangerous sports, is that they are searching for wonder and meaning in all the wrong places, having lost the ability to find it in the commonplace…when we start to view the world sacramentally, we begin recognizing that ordinary things are enchanted with God’s presence.” (Robin Phillips)

“…we believe that God is revealing Himself and His will in and through the things of creation, so they become a way for us to know God, to experience God, and through which we have a relationship with the divine. The Fathers did accept that the Spirit of God breathed life into creation. They also accepted that the Word of God (Logos) was found in everything that exists. Thus all created things have God’s Word in them (the logoi -’words’- of God) and whether they know it or not or like it or not are by nature they have a relationship to God.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“All the sacraments belong to God’s act of creation. This means they must not be spiritualized so that they are removed from their grounding in creation…The world itself is sacramental. It is epiphanic, revealing of God its creator. The appointed sacraments of the church are not exceptional realities or super-realities; they are not magic. Rather, they are specifications of the symbolical ontology of creation, and they witness to the fact that humankind is created in the image of God…man is able to bless and praise God for the world. Man is best defined not as a ‘logical’ but as a ‘eucharistic’ animal. He does not merely live in the world, think about it and use it, but he is capable of seeing the world as God’s gift, as a sacrament of God’s presence and a means of communion with him. So he is able to offer the world back to God in thanksgiving…” (Vigen Guroian, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

“…we must humble ourselves by fasting in order to gain strength to redirect our hearts away from our self-centered desires to their true fulfillment in God, in Whose image and likeness we are made. That is why we must become fully present before God in prayer each day as we open ourselves to His presence in our lives. That is why we must focus on serving our neighbors and not on pleasing ourselves. That is why we must confess and repent of sins that keep us wandering in spiritual darkness. By persistently orienting ourselves to God in this way, we will become more personally receptive to the gracious divine energies and gain the spiritual clarity to behold the glory of the Lord and to speak and act accordingly.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“The sacramental world of classical Christianity...presumes that the world as we see it is an expression of a greater reality that is unseen. It presumes that everything is a continuing gift and a means of communion with the good God who created it. The meaning and purpose of things is found in that which is not seen, apart from which we can only reach false conclusions. The essential message of Christ, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” is a proclamation of the primacy of this unseen world and its coming reign in the restoration of all things (apokatastasis, cf. Acts 3:21).” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The poetry of sacramental theology has been almost entirely ignored in our society, and the repercussions are manifest everywhere—especially in the arts. There is a sharp divorce between the natural and the spiritual. Our flesh and bones are seen as disposable material to be used for a short time and then discarded, instead of as mystical temples of the Divine." (Jonathan Jackson)

“The contemporary Reformed theologian Hans Boersma identifies the loss of sacramentality as the key reason why the modern church is falling apart. If there is no real participation in the eternal—that is, if we do not regard matter, and even time itself, as rooted firmly in God’s being—then the life of the church can scarcely withstand the torrents of liquid modernity.” (Rod Dreher)

“...we should not make the mistake of believing that the choice is between a sacramental or a sacrament free, secular life. Sacramentality is built into our very being. It is the most profound part of our human nature and we can not escape it. No, the choice is rather which sacramental life we wish to live.” (Archpriest Lawrence Cross)

“The one who is most free is the one who turns the work of his hands into sacrament, into offering. All he makes and all he does are gifts from God, through God, and to God.” (Mark Buchanan)

"It is this presence of the Holy Spirit within the created order that makes for creation’s unique and innate sacramentality." (Archimandrite Sergius)

“…sacramentalism had a much broader and deeper meaning in the mind of the Middle Ages. People of those days took all things that existed, even time, as in some sense sacramental. That is, they believed that God was present everywhere and revealed Himself to us through people, places, and things, through which His power flowed.” (Rod Dreher)

“Any time we take something neutral, something material, and we make something out of it for the sake of giving glory to God, it becomes sacramental, it becomes a channel of grace…An image makes present that which it represents.” (Father Martin Bernhard, St. Basil the Great)

“We live in what could be called an iconic world of God’s creation. All that God created might be said to bear the imprint of God Himself. Not that everything is God, but everything bears the glory of God.” (Father David L. Fontes, PsyD)

“…yearning for meaning and truth that all humans have is simply a manifestation of the metaphysical structure of all reality.” (David Bentley Hart)

“The Church is the sacrament of the Kingdom – not because she possesses divinely instituted acts called “sacraments,” but because first of all she is the possibility given to man to see in and through this world the “world to come,” to see and to “live” it in Christ. It is only when in the darkness of this world we discern that Christ has already “filled all things with Himself” that these things, whatever they may be, are revealed and given to us full of meaning and beauty. A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And his joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world’s return to Him who is the life of the world.” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)

“Everything that lives and breathes is sacred and beautiful in the eyes of God. The whole world is a sacrament. The entire created cosmos is a burning bush of God’s uncreated energies. And humankind stands as a priest before the altar of creation, as microcosm and mediator… All things are sacramental when seen in the light of God. Such is the true nature of things; or…“the truth of things,” if only we have the eyes of faith to see it. (Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew)

“Classical Christianity is the true materialism, revealing a dignity of the created order that never enters the sentiments of the modern mind. Our modern sin and failure is not found in loving material things too much – rather, we love them too little and in the wrong manner. We love our ideas about things and how we feel about things. Nothing is therefore loved for itself, but only for the sentiments that arise from its misuse.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The human being as part of the creation is not self-sufficient and autonomous for it owes its origins and existence to that Being whom we commonly call God. The human quests for identity and understanding of its place in the world, for creative self realization in history are realized in truths extant in and revealed by the Creator. And the Creator is both an inner presence and a cosmic reality, endocosmic and exocosmic.” (Demetrios J. Constantelos)

“The more a man leads the spiritual life, the more he becomes spiritualised: he begins to see God in everything; the manifestation of His power and might in everything; he sees himself always and everywhere abiding in God, and depending from God even in the smallest matters. But the more a man leads the carnal mode of life, the more carnal he becomes: he does not see God in anything, not even in the most wonderful manifestations of His divine powers - he sees flesh and matter in everything, and nowhere, nor at any time, is God before his eyes [Psalm 36:2].” (St. John of Krondstadt)

“The Sacrament of Baptism incorporates us into the Church, the Body of Christ… Confession is the Sacrament through which our sins are forgiven, and our relationship to God and to others is restored and strengthened.” (Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald)

“Baptism and repentance have been linked from the beginning. In both Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5 it says that people coming to John the Baptist were being baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins…Paul said John baptized with a baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4)…Baptism initiates Christian life. We continue it though Holy Communion and repentance.”(Sacramental DVD/CD Disk 1)

"Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility.” (Saint John Climacus)

“The Kingdom is personal, not national or ethnic, and its entrance requirements are repentance and spiritual rebirth.” (Life Application Study Bible, John 3:3)

"Repentance would be better defined not by saying:"O my God, I am sorry for my sins,” but rather by this:"O my God, I love you with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength.” This is total repentance.” (Anthony De Mello)

"All Christians are priests in Christ.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Titus 1:5-9)

“The word"priest” means"offeror” and, according to the Church, all human beings, clergy and laity, are supposed to be offerors in that we should offer our lives and all we have first to God because they are God’s.” (Sacramental Living)

“…the…Christian sees mankind as a priest and creation as his church. How could a priest ever desecrate his own church? How could he not see it as God’s gift to him, to be offered up on the altar, sanctified by grace, and then returned to him for his salvation.” (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“...the entire natural world is what we might call"sacramental”—not a sacrament in the strict theological sense, but nevertheless a symbolic system apt for the communication of spiritual realities.” (Stratford Caldecott)

“Anything in Creation can be of a sacramental nature, if it tells the believer something of God and imparts Gods grace to him.” (Fr. Joseph Irvin)

“If you want your children to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday experiences. You must teach your children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related.” (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 6:7)

"...most people actually are interested in theology, once the details are brought out, and particularly when it becomes clear that theology really does touch our everyday lives, that its shape shapes us in everything we do.” (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of life. The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented. They used the context of daily life to teach about God.” (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 6:7)

"...we must not create a split in the Christian life by assuming that all activity is somehow dangerous to the spiritual life. The spiritual life is not a life of quiet withdrawal, a hothouse of growth of artificial ascetic practices beyond the reach of people living ordinary lives. It is in the ordinary duties and labors of life that the Christian can and should develop his spiritual union with God.” (Thomas Merton)

“It’s easy to see God in the miraculous. It’s not so easy to see Him in the mundane. But that’s where most of us live...This is all the more reason why we need to be sensitive to His voice—so we can be aware of and attentive to the subtle ways in which He works.” (Charles Swindoll)

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