Signs of God’s Love—and other review of Sacramental Awareness
-God saw that all that he had made, indeed, was very good. (Genesis)
-In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh (the Incarnation) and dwelt among us! (John’s Gospel)
-The story of our faith:
The Incarnation was the fulfillment of a series of promises God made to the
Chosen People, the Jews. God freed the Israelites, sustained them in the desert,
and delivered them into a land “flowing with milk and honey,”
God fashioned a people from Abraham’s family and entered into a covenant
with them. While the Chosen People ignored their part of the covenant, God
never abandoned them. God sent them a Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God-becoming-human makes all of human life, all of created reality, worthwhile. The
food we eat, the clothes we wear, the games we play, the jokes we enjoy, the work we do,
the rest we seek are all important to God who became one of us. Everything connected to
human life is worthy, is sacred, has meaning and importance. Jesus shared all this with
us. He was born; he died. He laughed; he cried. He worked. He was tempted. He was
The sacraments celebrate the wonder of the incarnation. The compassionate God comes
to us in the special moments of our lives. At birth; at death; and in between.
Read Matthew 6: 25-34. (Jesus teaches us to trust in God’s loving providence.)
Read the following “Messianic passages” from Hebrew Scripture:
2 Sm 7 (Davidic covenant)
Is 11 (sevenfold spirit of the Messiah)
Is 53 (Suffering Servant)
Dn 7 (Son of Man)
Write your own psalm of praise for God’s glorious creation.
Sacramentals: sacred signs that signify and gain for us spiritual benefits through the
Objects: candles used in prayer or worship; holy water; statues and icons, holy
pictures; blessed ashes on Ash Wednesday; palms for Holy Week; rosaries; relics;
incense; vestments; scapulars; church buildings; crosses; religious medals
Actions: blessings, genuflections before the Blessed Sacrament; the Sign of the
Cross; bowing one’s head at the name of Jesus; church processions
Places: the Holy Land, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes, the National Shrine and other
places of pilgrimage; chapels and retreat centers
Prayers: short prayers said throughout the day; grace before and after meals
Sacred Time: holy days; feasts of the saints; special days of prayer, fasting, and
Signs—anything that points to something else. School bell that signals class is over;
umpire’s gesture for “safe”; an EXIT sign
Artificial signs—conventional meaning attached to them, such as “red light” for
stop; language—t-a-b-l-e, or m-e-s-a, or could be u-r-g-h! to mean the same thing.
Natural signs—come from nature. Smoke—usually means fire
Crocuses; daffodils—sign of Spring
Smile implies happy (usually!)
Symbols—signs filled with deep meanings that come from within and are not just
explicitly stated. Call forth conscious and unconscious feelings and thoughts.
Family picture love
Love letter not just words, but evokes feelings, heart, mind, imagination
-symbols can reveal part of reality without communicating all of it
-symbols can reveal or conceal
-symbols bring about another reality. Wedding ring might evoke thoughts of
wedding day or thoughts of spouse. Reality of the love is greater
than the ring.
-symbols take time to develop and have many layers of meaning.
Birthday—rich individual symbol. Your special day and takes on
new meanings each year.
Symbols are meaningful signs that call forth deep feelings and thoughts that make present
and real what is hidden to the eye.
Sacrament: Comes from the Latin word sacramentum, a word we can safely assume
Jesus did not use, nor does the New Testament, originally written in Greek, use.
1. St. Paul: Mystery of God’s Love. Early theologians used the Greek term mysterion
2. Sacramentum: Pledge and Oath. Church father Tertullian applied sacramentum
to the Christian rites of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and eucharist)
3. St. Augustine: Sacred Sign. In the fifth century, St. Augustine developed the
notion of sacrament as a special sign or symbol. “a visible sign of an invisible
reality; a visible sign of invisible grace.”
4. St. Thomas Aquinas: Efficacious Symbol—effects (brings about) what it
symbolizes and symbolizes what it effects.