Mass at the Cathedral de Notre Dame of Paris by Benh LIEU SONG (Own work) GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (

After the last post (here) I found a continuation of the same thoughts bursting out of me …

Not so long ago, I met a thoughtful, university-educated man, who seemed to have a notably less materialistic, more spiritual orientation to life.

On reading something I’d written, he asked me what a Sacrament was. I told him. But now I wish I might have told him rather more.

Your culture told you what aspirin was, I might have said.

Your culture told you what heroin was.

Your culture told you what psychotherapy was.

Your culture told you of countless different ways to address suffering, some good, some not-so-good.

But as I have suffered, nothing helped me more than the Sacraments.

Your culture told you what a sermon was.

Your culture told you what a hymn was.

Your culture probably told you that religion was a system of belief (but not a living reality of spiritual respiration. Or as St Augustine said: of eating what you become and becoming what you eat).

But you an educated, thoughtful man, oriented to something beyond this materialistic world …

You were led (I would imagine) to think that religion was about singing hymns and hearing sermons and being told to be a good person.

Your culture never told you what a Sacrament was.

(It never told me, either.)

Not surprisingly, dear thoughtful, educated friend, you and I were brought up in Protestant cultures.

In Protestant cultures, it is indeed easy not to know what a Sacrament is …

It is really dead easy not to know that there was a time – before the Reformation took 30 per cent of world Christianity with it – that all of Christianity (from Reykavik to Constantinople) not only understood what the Sacraments were – but knew that they were the Centre of the Faith.

(Yes, something like 30 per cent fell away. But in the English-speaking world, it was perhaps 90 per cent – at least in the first centuries after the Reformation. So that we Anglophones frequently unconsciously suppose that Christianity is not principally about the Sacraments – assuming we even know what a Sacrament is).

Dear thoughtful, educated, non-materialistic friend, who does not know what a Sacrament is …

Dear thoughtful, educated non-materialistic friend, who may suppose that Christianity amounts to going to a church and being told what to do (and perhaps singing a dreary hymn or bopping to an Evangelical rock group) …

Dear thoughtful, educated, non-materialistic friend, who are in search of something beyond this world, something transcendent …

In this English speaking world, not having the slightest clue what Christianity is …

(At least, this is how I myself once was: clueless …)

You could likely turn to the New Age movement.

(At least, that’s what I did.)

Dear thoughtful, educated, non-materialistic friend …

Will you forgive me, if I tell you frankly: you were robbed?

(Just like me …)

From Roger Buck, co-author of this site. Click to buy at Amazon worldwide!



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