Joseph Martos
Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by Dr. Joe Martos - Friday, 17 February 2012, 1:50 AM
Explain how modern Catholic devotions and contemporary worship experiences that are not sacraments in the strict sense can be understood as sacraments in the broad sense, illustrating with examples from your own experience.
Picture of Monica Okon
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by Monica Okon - Monday, 16 July 2012, 7:16 PM
As at this point, I do understand that sacraments are doors to the sacred. This means rituals, practices, and symbols including religious experiences that lead us closer to God, are sacraments. The Catholic Church has confirmed for a long time till now that there are seven rituals called the sacraments in the strict sense. Modern Catholic devotions and contemporary worships have practices that are not sacraments in the strict sense. Examples of some devotions and worships that are sacraments in the broad sense include adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, music, prayer books with devotions to saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the cross to mention just a view.

My experience in many of these devotions seems so real. I was born into a Catholic family. I remember vividly that the first book my brother gave me was a prayer book filled with all kinds of prayers. Using this prayer book made available to me different prayers for different occasions. As a student, I used to have a special prayer for success, For a special need, I used to pray a novena to the sacred heart of Jesus. When I think of death, there was a prayer to Saint Joseph for a peaceful and happy death. I usually have a prayer of adoration especially if I have opportunity to be in the church. I usually love praying the rosary both as a community and as individual at my own spare time. This practice instilled in me was one of the best experiences I have always cherished in my spiritual life. For me to make it a point of duty to pray the rosary daily has always enriched me spiritually. These devotions constantly remind me about my relationship with God. Most of the time, I could feel God’s presence in a special way that is indescribable. When I kneel before the Blessed Sacrament or pray the Stations of the Cross. I find myself in total surrender to God. Moreover, the act of god’s love shown in the passion death and resurrection of Christ is usually made presence to me. I find these practices as pious devotion and they uplift my spirit and for that reason I regard them sacraments in the broad sense. After all, some of these devotions comprises of ceremony, music, prayers to saints, to mention just a few which are some of the characteristics found in the 7 sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is not really finding God in different places, but that there are different means we can approach God that makes us seem very close to God. After reading Doors to the Sacred and listening to talk 4, I can claim these devotions are sacraments in the broad sense because they involve rituals, such as objects. The only reasons these devotions do not belong to the group of sacraments in the strict sense is because the church are not hoping to bring changes in this direction on the sacramental theology. For the Catholic, the number of the sacraments have been fixed, but they possess the socially, psychologically, and spiritual elements that other sacraments possess.

GRADE 4 (Succinct and to the point.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Wednesday, 11 July 2012, 01:44 AM)

Picture of arnetta sims
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by arnetta sims - Wednesday, 11 July 2012, 7:23 PM

Monica I love your explanation on worship experiences. The modern devotions are not sacraments, but I think it is those experiences that build our expectation of the sacredness of the sacraments.It is the continual practices and expresssions in devotions that we share in the presence of God. My first rosary beads at first communion and special rituals for Mary's months. All of which left a lasting impact on my life to strive to be a good Catholic. I also go before the Blessed Sacrament to listen as He speaks to me.

As a child I did not understand why their was so much silence and reverence during special devotions. But now I can truly appreciate these sacred times and places. Upon entering the doors of the sacred, we stand before Him on Holy Ground!

Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by Eileen Rettig - Monday, 16 July 2012, 7:19 PM

As a child I remember taking part in the Forty Hours devotion. It was introduced to Philadelphia by St. John Neuman who was bishop of that diocese in the mid-nineteenth century. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the monstrance for anyone to visit usually from the evening on one day until the late afternoon two days later. This particular devotion is still active in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to this day, partially in tribute to the saintly bishop who brought it from his native Bohemia. Another devotion I took part in as a student in Catholic elementary school was the May Procession. The boys would dress in their good suits while the girls wore white dresses. We would parade around the outside of the school and church buildings saying the Rosary and singing hymns, usually from the wonderful cadre of hymns about Mary that we Catholics relish. Upon entering the church proper, one of the girls in the eighth grade graduation class would crown the statue of Mary with a wreath of flowers. The ceremony would end with Benediction. Both devotions would clearly fall into the classification of sacrament with a lower case “s”.

I have two practices as an adult that help me feel close to God and therefore qualify as a sacrament. One is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This devotion was first promulgated by a Polish nun in the early twentieth century after a series of visions of Jesus. The prayers involved are short and can be said with a set of Rosary beads. I must admit I first adopted this practice for two fairly superficial reasons. First, since my mother is Polish American and it was a Pope from Poland who reintroduced the devotion I felt compelled to adopt the practice. The second reason was even more superficial. The prayers took half the time of a regular rosary. The more I said the Chaplet, the greater the effect on me personally. I find a closeness with the Lord that is difficult for me to find outside of Mass.

My involvement in the Cursillo movement in my diocese is also a sacrament with a lower case “s”. The weekend of the retreat is a moving experience aimed at helping a Christian grow closer to God. The movement began in Catholic Spain in the late nineteen forties and spread to the United States in the mid-fifties. It has since spread under the name Cursillo to several mainline Protestant denominations and has been modified to work with other Christian denominations under several different names, such as Emmaus Walk and Tres Dias.

Within the Cursillo community I have found a closeness with like-minded Catholics I have not known since I left my family of origin to follow my husband. I meet weekly with several women with whom I share my journey in faith. We share our joys and sorrows, our close moments to Christ, our study, our attempts to bring Christ to others and our efforts to learn more about our relationship with the Lord. I have received several other spiritual gifts from this group. When my daughter announced she was pregnant by her boyfriend several members of the larger Cursillo group shared their family stories with me. I was not alone. And in turn, while being asked to give a talk about my faith life sharing my story helped several other women find the strength to deal with their own situations.

I also discovered the gift of men’s spirituality within the Cursillo movement. I come from a family of all girls and my father was quite private about his spirituality. Although baptized Catholic, my husband is not active member in any faith. Within the Cursillo community I have met and become friends with quite a few men who are strong in both their masculinity and their faith. It has been a great gift from God for me.

GRADE 5 (Extra credit for extra development of ideas and examples.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Thursday, 12 July 2012, 06:18 PM)

Picture of Tim Talbott
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by Tim Talbott - Monday, 16 July 2012, 7:22 PM

When I think of Sacraments in the broad sense, I think of the terms sacramentals or sacramentality. Rosaries and other similar items are considered sacramentals. I describe events, places, and basically everything else that is not a physical item or one of the seven specifically Catholic ritual Sacraments, as having sacramentality.

There is so much interconnectedness in all of the Faith and it is hard to articulate what you see in your heart and soul. The traditional understanding of the Church is that graces are bestowed in the Sacraments. Certain sacramentals have graces attributed to them also. With all of these, the terms from the text are useful in describing. It really comes down to the spiritual aspect of faith which I believe is more prevalent in Catholicism. In the way that people must be properly disposed to receive grace, I believe part of this is being aware of it for the full effect. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a there is something significant about the Rosary. It is not what I would refer to as magic, although depending on what one means by this, it could fit. Regardless, I have experienced more than mere feelings in reciting it. I have seen first-hand what I would consider miracles. I do know some Protestants who say the Rosary as well. This is just one example of a sacramental that I am intimately familiar with.

In a similar way, places and events can be sacramental as well. I thought that the description of sacred place and time in the text was accurate in describing these experiences. I certainly related to the examples given of going into a church. There are just some places where you know without being told that it is sacred. Places where you truly feel God’s presence. In a sense, we experience God in the sacraments but we can also see him in everyday life. The best example I can use is Jesus truly present in the Eucharistic Host, but he is also present in our heart. It is not exactly in the same way, but in another way he is.

GRADE 3 (Correct, but less than the required length.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Friday, 13 July 2012, 11:01 PM)

Picture of Marvin Fitchett
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by Marvin Fitchett - Sunday, 29 July 2012, 12:08 PM

In this academic setting, I’ve learned that sacramentals in modern Catholic devotions are objects that are not official sacraments. However, these sacramentals have been accepted into the Catholic sacramental ceremonies, because they enhance a participant’s religious experience. The Blessed Sacrament, music, prayer books with devotions to saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary are examples of the sacramentals that have been assimilated in the Catholic devotion.

However, I shall consider my own Christian contemporary worship experiences where the established sacred symbols of worship have acquiesce to newer forms of religious expression. Similar to the Catholic devotions, the Protestant devotions have negotiated the affects of the changing culture, and advancing technology. The Baptist churches I’ve attended, conducted their Sunday worship service with a particular structure. Invocation, worship through song, offering, preached word, call to salvation, and benediction.

As the culture change, the worshipped has been energized with contemporary music and songs, and worship through dance has been accepted as part of the worship service. There was a time in the African American Baptist churches when worship of/ to God was done with verbal and hand clap praise and the songs that were song were hymnals. The hymnal was a devotional song book that was placed on the back of the pews. Some contain verses from the scriptures, which made them sacred to those who song and heard the hymn. Today, in most African American Baptist churches the hymnals are rarely song, and the devotional book itself has been replaced with projection screen to site the words of the contemporary worship songs. Additionally, the only musical instruments that were played during the worship service were the piano or organ, and tambourine. In the majority of African American churches you’ll continue to see the piano or organ, and tambourine with the addition of at minimal drums to an entire band, possible an orchestra. The addition of the musical instruments is becoming the sacred norm for worship in music and song.

Another form of worship which was not practiced in the African American Baptist churches two to four generations previously was dance ministries. This was a controversial topic in its infancy. However, this contemporary form of worship was consent to because the proponents of dance ministries use scriptural references to support their effort. They referred to the scripture that spoke of David dancing before the Lord, and explained that it was a ministry of service. Dance as a ministry of service was used to encourage, and edify those participating in the service. The early forms of dance were simple, today there are different genres of dance ministries. What makes the dances sacred is when the dancers dance to worship songs.

I believe technology advances have affected all churches, not only African American Baptist churches. In the past, believers attended the church building to enter the sacredness of God’s house. Today, the technological advances have moved the sacredness of attending a service inside God’s house to viewing through the technology advances. The technological advancements that I’m suggesting started with televisions, and now there are computers with the internet. Now there is live streaming, u-streaming, you-tube, video on demand, and TBN taping Christian service. There are some that state the sacredness of God can be viewed and God can reach people through the technological advancement, and the sacredness remains intact. When they are watching the service, the viewer can participate in every aspect of the service, the worship, the offering, listening to the preached word, and the can call in on the call for salvation.

Grade 4 (Accurate understanding of sacraments in the broad sense.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Friday, 27 July 2012, 08:24 PM)

Picture of arnetta sims
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 2
by arnetta sims - Monday, 6 August 2012, 7:05 PM

Modern Catholic practices and devotions are exercises to help experience sacraments. An illustration is going before the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. When I am in this sacred space, I am aware of the presence of Christ in the Monstrance and yearn to receive Him. As I comtemplate on this mystery I feel this space and time as sacred. Devotions are practices which conditions the spirit man to enter into the doors of the sacred. The function of adoration brings us very close to a sacrament, but yet we do not feel the total effect of reception of the sacrament.

A sacramental experience expressed in a communal setting ; we would pray the Divine Praises for protection of hurricanes at the conclusion of mass. The community felt that the prayers keep hurricanes from the Gulf.

I say the prayer to St. Michael daily while wearing a sculptar for protection. These practices where handed down and they become personal efffects of reverence. Eventhough their effects are similar to a sacramental experience,they are not considered to be a sacrament.

I believe that the devotions and practices are necessary aids to assist us. In a broader sense everyone and everything can be a sacrament that ushers us into the presence of the Lord. The prayers that we pray are also sacramental actions.Sacramental actions can take place within the celebration of the Eucharist. Just as the priest prays over the gifts at the epiclesis, he too perfoms a sacramental action. The necesssary elements can be symbolic matter, graced and realized mystery.

GRADE 3 (Insightful, but some shortcomings.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Friday, 3 August 2012, 10:21 PM)