Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 8 March 2010

Belief in the Supernatural, and the Efficacy of Sacramentals and The Sacraments

I am a bit of a skeptic. While I believe in miracles in theory, in practice I cast a gimlet eye on claims of the miraculous.

But I cannot deny the supernatural.

A few things floating around the interwebs in these latter days of Lent seem related to me.
1. Fr Z has what I presume is a not-for-the-first-time rant about the silly practice of removing Holy Water from the fonts for all of Lent, in some cases replacing it with racks or sand (or kitty litter?) as if Holy Water served no real purpose other than symbolic.

2. Another topic is that of the devil, and exorcisms and Satanists, naturally replete with sound bytes from Fr Amorth, and the expression of scorn, not for his claims, which may or may not be true, but the quaint old beliefs in such things that make such claims plausible to him.

3. And we are gearing up for the marathon at my parish, (more about that later,) which always includes, on Easter morning, part of the Rite of Baptism for infants, (adults will have been baptized the night before,) described in the first comment.

There have been parents who wanted their infants baptized immediately, and in discussing this a catechist of my acquaintance, (NOT from my parish, I haste to add,) poo-poohing their urgency, essentially said there is no such thing as Original Sin.

And finally,
4. The oft-repeated opinion that getting the right "right" doesn't really matter, who cares what words we pray at Mass, or even if we go to Mass, or what anyone believes, as long as he's a nice person, and...

Do you see the connections, or is this reaching on my part?

It seems to me that modern man is ashamed to admit of a belief in the supernatural -- the supernatural, without which, there is no purpose other than the psychological to the Sacraments and to sacramentals.

Oh, sure, they "remind" us of things, they make us "feel" a certain way, they encourage solidarity -- but they can have nothing to do with Grace, for pete's sake.

Because, of course, Grace, if it existed, would be supernatural.

And therefore, can it really exist?


Scelata said...

Baptisms at my parish, by dint of making the parents stand up in front of the congregation at Sunday Mass several weeks running while expanded-by-the-creativity-of-a-liturgist-in-imitation-of-the-Gary-Shandling-theme-song* portions of the rite are celebrated, (or, in the case of those administered this time of year, several different Masses spread over the course of a month and a half, are made to seem more about joining the club that any imparting of Grace.
(The thinking is, by getting them up there more than just once, the parents will feel more a "part" of the parish family: and by seeing them up there more than once, and by being asked to pray for them, and come up and meet them in the sanctuary after Mass more than once, the unreformed neanderthals who resent "their" Sunday Mass being made considerably longer by baptisms, will resent it less because it occurs more often.)

*This is the sacrament where we
Pour some water out, and
Remember we told you last week, that we'd be
Doing some more stuff now, and so
Now we're gonna say a prayer, and the
Prayer will kinda go like this, we'll
Ask God for some stuff, and
Then we'll all agree, by
Loudly saying "Amen!" and
Here's the prayer right now, so
Let's all say it together...

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Charles said...

Hey G,
What I admit to is that at the unexpected birth of our second grandson at 25 weeks' gestation, before he was transferred to the regional Children's NICU in Fresno, I told the attending nurse who'd be in transit with him that were he to exhibit signs of "crashing," she was to immediately bless available water and baptize him without hestitation. She was so attentive while his cart was moving, I provided her with the minimal formula of words if that scenario were to eventuate.
Praise God, Joseph Charles made it through the night and our vicar made it up to the NICU the next morning and properly baptized him.
He's approaching four now, and I hope when he's a grandfather he will believe in the sacraments and sacramentals as essential elements in a fully human life being lived.

Scelata said...

Miracles, indeed!

God bless you and your family, Charles.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)