Picture of Tim Talbott
Re: Part Two of the Course, First Assignment, Question 1
by Tim Talbott - Monday, 16 July 2012, 1:48 PM

Due to the fact that I am a practicing Catholic, prior to taking this course my understanding of the Sacraments was obviously based on what the Church defines it as in the Catechism. While I have not changed my understanding of the Sacraments, I have broadened my thinking of sacraments and sacramentality. The terminology, in particular has broadened my ability to even discuss the Sacraments. Eileen stole my thunder in pointing out that there is the distinction made between Sacraments, with a capital S, and sacraments, with a lowercase s.

On page 3, Dr. Martos notes that “In either case, the sacramentum involved a religious ceremony in a sacred place.” Sacramentum being a Latin form, and basis for the word sacrament, performs the job of describing sacrament with a lowercase s. In regards to this, there is much conversation which could be had of Catholic/Christian Sacraments in relation to the other “sacraments” around the world. One concept I feel necessary to mention is the theme of this first chapter which seems to detail the ambiguity and seemingly universal application of the word sacrament. This brought up an important point that has often made. The presence of similarities in both practice and belief between Christianity and other, even pagan, religions does not diminish Christianity but validates it. From a philosophical/metaphysical perspective, the similarities arose out of the same natural longing for God which every man is born with.

I believe we can get caught up in the semantics of what the Church defines its seven Sacraments as and the meaning attributed by others. What the Church means by its definition may indeed be other than what the rest of the world intends, but it does not negate what its believed definition is. Different contexts of the word light does not mean that either one is incorrect. It is not heavy in one instance and the opposite of the dark in the other.

I have to say that I focus more on the disadvantages of the broad view of the word sacrament. As I previously stated, too much ambiguity and an almost universal application would significantly water down the profundity of the term. In a situation where some could be used to describe almost anything, the novelty of it detailing a special few things would be diminished. This being said, one advantage might be seen in being able to view even mundane details as highly meaningful. This would certainly be in line with a Christian perspective of the world which God created. It really comes down to the context in which it is being used. There is a time for both, it just depends on whether you mean Sacraments with a capital S (Catholic rituals), or sacraments with a lowercase s (everything else).

GRADE 3 (Talks around the question but could be more direct and clear. Shorter than required length.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Thursday, 12 July 2012, 12:13 AM)