Wednesday, December 5, 2012

a sacrament whose sign is words


  Can we believe that God’s love for us has nothing to do with worthiness? It is pure gift. The answer to the question “Why do you love me?” is never a list of “reasons”. The answer is: “because I love you”. 
 In looking at vocation we realize the same. “Why did you call me? Not surely because of my worthiness or virtue or strength.” The answer is always simply, “I called you because I called you”.
--Fr. Frank Quinlivan


I love words.
And I love conversations.
Each conversation we encounter has the ability to be a life-changing conversation, if we let it.
If we allow ourselves to be touched by the little bit of eternity we encounter in the other person. 

I am constantly amazed by the power that words have to touch my heart, to change my mind, to enlighten little dark space and blind spots in my soul.

Entering a confessional is entering into a conversation. One of those "we need to talk" conversations that everyone dreads. Because, in those conversations, you know that you will not be allowed to be anything but inescapably, painfully, embarrassingly honest. You will have to encounter the little bit of eternity that is yourself, and the blemishes that blight your own beauty. 

But unlike many of those "we need to talk" conversations, the point of the sacrament of confession is that it ends with a reconciliation. I'm sorry's and I forgive you's are a daily part of human interactions.
And that's the unique beauty of the sacraments: they take such human actions, saying words, eating bread, washing, and transform and transfigure those actions with some mysterious infusion of grace.

They allow us to offer an I'm sorry from the deepest part of our soul.
Allow us to make a promise that comes from the very core of our being.
They allow us to eat and to partake of the greatest sustenance and strength.
They make us more human. 
Sacraments take us to the deepest, most true depths of what it means to be a human being. And once we've dived into those depths, we are freed to live the rest of our lives at that level. When we offer an I'm sorry, we can offer it with the completeness we understand by experiencing a complete I forgive you. Once we experience a life-changing conversation, where words touch us on such a deep level, our hearts are opened to let the words of others continually touch us.

This is the rhythm of the world: to fall and to rise again.

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