Alignment and Illumination
Why are there so many of us who are drawn to the various expressions of religious iconography around the world? Why do so many of us see the holy and the Divine in the differing traditions and gravitate toward, well, almost all of them? And then why are there people who cringe and shriek at the sights of such?
I tend to think of people who are drawn to various religious expressions as seeing something deeper in the tradition; we're connecting to the archetypes reflected throughout the world. There's an inner alignment, and the alignment is illuminated, whether through spiritual practices or grace and for whatever reason.
Sacraments are one means by which this alignment and illumination occurs.
Sacraments are sometimes defined thusly:
"A sacrament is an outward, visible sign of an inward, invisible grace."
The sentence can be read in multiple ways; in one way, the sentence can be understood that the sacrament is merely a ritual done externally that reflects the interior grace given by God.
From another perspective, we can understand the grace is being given through the sacrament by God.
I attempt to be practical and recognize that both perspectives are meaningful to people, and that the ultimate mechanism may be beyond description.
That being said, one interpretation could render the sentence to mean that the sacraments are extra but unnecessary, whereas the other reading emphasizes the connection of God, grace, and the sacrament.
While I take the position that God works through whatever means necessary, it would be a disservice to suggest that the sacraments aren't extremely beneficial. It's the difference between trying to cross the ocean in a small boat versus a state-of-the-art luxury cruise ship. You can technically do it, but you're in for a bumpier ride.
To return to the original point, the sacraments both align the inner archetypal world and illuminate that world. We're able to see it reflected in the external world. The interior and invisible grace becomes known to us throughout the traditions of the world's religions.
So embrace the alignment. Embrace the sacraments. Allow your soul to be illuminated, and let your light shine to the world.
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