This post is part of the Catholic Women Bloggers Network Blog Hop, hosted by Reconciled To You. To read more stories from other bloggers about this topic, click here.
I have been meaning to, um, hop, on this blog hop since its very inception. But, (insert your favorite excuse here), life. amirite? But, I am a rare duck in the mommy world in that my pace actually does slow a bit in the summer, so finally, here I am.
When I started thinking about the topic: Why I Love My Catholic Faith my very logic-oriented brain immediately turned the question into Why Am I A Catholic. And, naturally, I was struck with the Chesterton quote, “The difficulty of explaining “why I am a Catholic” is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” And, I mean, it is true. But, is that why I love it? I mean, honestly, kind of. But that is the heady answer and I wanted to jump into strange territory here and flesh out a heart answer.
When I was converting, I was drawn first to Catholicism by its Truth and logic, sure, but what pulled my heart in was the Sacraments, and specifically how Catholics were keenly aware of the importance of our body and our spirit, in a way that no other Christians were. In short, the Catholic Church understands that matter matters. We are not just a soul that happens to inhabit a body. We are our bodies and our souls.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a Sacrament as “an efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.” Or, more simply, they are outward signs of an inner grace that effect the graces they signify. It is through the Sacraments that we receive Christ’s grace. What I love the most about the Sacraments is that God is not bound by them. They are not for Him. They are for us. They were created for us, especially to complement the metaphysical dualism of human nature, the material and the immaterial. Body and soul. He gave them to us because we need them.
Sacraments act ex opere operato, but the fruits of the Sacraments depend on the disposition of the one who receives them (CCC 1128) (Also known as, my most frequently cited CCC passage). We need to touch, hear, see, smell, and taste with our material bodies to aide our disposition when we receive the Sacraments. Tasting the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Eucharist, hearing the words of absolution, the touch of the laying on of hands at an ordination, the smell of the chrism oil at baptism and confirmation, seeing the water washing our bodies as it washes away sins at baptism; all of those things help dispose us to receive the immaterial graces that we otherwise might miss.
Of course God could work without the material elements of the sacraments. But, He knew that we would benefit from them. The Sacraments are a beautiful gift from a Loving Father to His children.