What’s the tallest building you’ve ever been in? Was it the John Hancock Building? Maybe the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building? Perhaps you’re very well-traveled and it’s the Burj Khalifa or the Tokyo Skytree. When you’re at the top of a building, staring down at the cars and people below, it’s hard not to wonder how man was able to make such a thing. How did we construct something so tall and strong? How does it stand undisturbed against the wind and the storms?
At the base of all skyscrapers is a virtually unmovable concrete foundation that acts as an anchor for the vertical construction. Its strength allows us to confidently reach higher and higher into the sky. That idea is also applicable to our spiritual lives. Our goal is to get as close to God as we can, and we should use the tools given to us to get there.
Recently on The Inner Life, Josh Raymond welcomed Father Sam Kachuba onto the show to talk about how the sacraments can be that foundation for our spiritual life.
To begin, Josh asked Father to talk a bit about what it means to have a spiritual life. Father Sam replied, saying that God created us for one purpose: to form a relationship with Him. While we were all created for individual vocations and called to do different things and make different decisions in our lives, our singular purpose as a species remains the same. We are called to serve, love, and know God. Just as we take care of our physical bodies to prevent sickness and death, we have to curate our spiritual life so that it does not fall ill or die.
So how do we protect it? What preventative measures can we take to make sure that our spiritual lives stay active, healthy, and connected to Our Lord? The sacraments will be our foundation. As Father Sam said, “‘A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ that confers grace.’ In other words, God wants us to receive His blessings. He wants us to receive graces. So, he makes that reception of grace happen through [very] visible signs and Jesus Himself gives us these signs.” As we observe these outward, visible signs, God is conducting an invisible outpouring of grace, and that grace gives us the strength to do His will.
Father Sam then moved on to talk about the different categories of sacraments as they relate to the nurturing and growth of our spiritual lives. The first category includes the sacraments of initiation: baptism, the Eucharist, and confirmation. These act as the foundation of the foundation. They give us the baseline from which to grow. Baptism initiates us, the Eucharist nourishes us through Jesus’s body and blood, and confirmation welcomes us as full adults into the Church.
When God first created Adam and Eve, they were created in perfection, able to walk alongside God as creatures with creator. After the fall, we lost that ability to maintain a perfect connection with God, but He is perpetually waiting for our return to His arms. Our life is spent trying to get back to that level of love, communication, and that relationship. Of course, we will never attain perfection, but every time we receive the sacraments, we take a step closer towards Him. That, said Father Sam, is why He made these outward signs such simple gestures; water being poured over our head, consuming his body and blood under the accidents of bread and wine, and being anointed with oil.
“Yeah, God wants us to be saved. He wants us to be in that relationship with Him. And the simplicity, I think, of some of the sacraments, of the whole idea of the sacraments, is exactly that: It doesn’t have to be something complicated to get us into a relationship with the Lord. It’s something very simple,” said Father Sam.
Josh recalled Chapter 8 of Acts when Philip was called to evangelize the Ethiopian Eunuch. After proclaiming the salvation of Jesus Christ, the eunuch said to him, “‘Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?’ Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:36-38) These outward signs are so simple that in the middle of the “desert route”, Philip was able to save a soul with a little bit of water.
Listen to the whole segment below:
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