(Perry Como sings, “Magic Moments”)
Who’s the singer? That song was Burt Bacharach’s fist big hit. “When two hearts beat are caring,” is truly magical.
It’s even more natural for us to look for a “magic moment” in religion. We can call them miracles or spiritual times that changes us, or strengthens us, or straighten us out. Each sacrament can contain such a moment. However, we tend to narrow that special moment within the sacrament and miss its meaning or application.
Take the Eucharist, for example. All of you would probably agree that the consecration is that sacrament’s mystical magic. Not necessarily. I was taught and believed that it’s the doxology, proclaiming the Trinity before the “Our Father” is prayed. But that may not be necessarily so either. The magic of the Eucharist is what is received on Sunday and then lived on that hump of a day, Wednesday, together with its worries, schedules or whatever concern concerns you. That’s the test of Sunday’s reception.
One would think that Holy Orders is both the laying on of hands by the bishop and priests and the Holy Oil rubbed into the candidate’s hands. I think the magic of the priesthood is the humbling experience of celebrating Reconciliation or Confession. The mystery of God’s mercy being poured into a soul seeking a fresh start or a restart.
For us this weekend, it’s the final initiation sacrament of Confirmation. One would confidently conclude that it’s the extension of the priest’s hand on the confirmand’s head; although not is the virus season. It is also the Holy Oil placed on the person’s forehead; only with cotton during this virus season. But do you really think that that’s the beginning and ending of this sacred sacrament? Wouldn’t it be only the beginning of full membership in the Catholic Church along it’s lifelong commitment of service, prayer, and a faith-filled life? It’s the mustard seed of this and all the sacraments?
We could talk about Marriage forever but I think its magic is the mutual forgiveness after their first argument. That makes a sacrament “sacramentally,” the adverb any sacrament calls us to be. It is all about action, behavior, and effort.
Let’s have a little English lesson today. Verbs are important. They spell action. Nouns pronounce that something’s happened. Both are good but it’s verbs that gets us through life and especially in our faith. Here’s our sad, non-action Catholic verbs. Please pay attention. “I went to Mass today.” “I got married last weekend.” “I say five rosaries a day.” “I gotta go to Confession this weekend.” Please notice the absence of energy and propulsion in those crazy, dull, and inactive verbs. “Went, got, say, and gotta go” are not the verbs of God. “I gotta go to the bathroom,” expresses the same sentiment. When are the verbs heard? Verbs like praying, healing, adoring, sanctifying?
Sacraments are spiritual nouns that, because of the sacrament, become active, engaging religious verbs in all of our thoughts, words and deeds.”
That’s what makes a sacrament holy by its old Catechism definition: “An outward sign instituted by Christ to give [each of us a daily hefty dose] of grace.”