In Catholic theology and Eastern Orthodox theology I believe too, the sacraments show God participating in our lives and with us at the liturgy. It is God, breathing life into his Church–his bride. I come from a background that challenges the legitimacy of these sacraments. For a while, I succumbed to this idea that they were unnecessary. But after thinking about it, I realized the deism involved in the rejection of the sacramental sacredness. I had realized that the Evangelical Protestant background I found myself in wasn’t about a personal relationship with God but rather it was about shoving God away from humans, being force-fed theological opinions in a matter of a position of power. The sacraments are essential to the Christian belief because they bring God back to humans in way so real that goes beyond the intellectual power-pursuit that the more “rationalistic” Protestant low-churchers do.
1. The sacrament of baptism. Oh, if only I was born into the right religion to begin with. Then I would have God backing me up since day one for all the days of my life. But God is an intellectual pursuit. Baptism is for those who know full-well they will continue their intellectual pursuit. It isn’t for those who stumble and fall-down in their faith every now and again. In my background, it’s about what I’m going to believe the rest of my life and how awesome I am being more faithful than the rest. I wasn’t told that my Evangelical Covenant Church practiced baptismal regeneration until I left. But baptism–being washed free once and for all is what I desire. I’m so filled with darkness.
2. Christmation. I cannot wait for this. This is my final initiation into the Catholic Church. Byzantines combine this with baptism.
3. The Eucharist. The Eucharist has it’s life breathed into it by Jesus. My Evangelical Protestant upbringing taught me maliciously that there was no way a piece of bread could turn into the body and blood of Jesus. That’s because for them, God was disconnected from the sacrament. God wasn’t involved in the church. He was off in the distance. He was powerless.
4. Marriage. A sign of Christ giving self-sacrificial love to his Church. This has been wrongly misinterpreted as “oppressive patriarchy” by numerous feminist “scholars”. The man is not a bossy, oppressive ruler of the women, he is a self-sacrificing servant of the women leading the women in the act of love. Submission is the women’s response to the self-sacrificial love.
5. The Priesthood. The priesthood has been effectively abolished by Protestantism by their two-tiered priesthood (all believers and the high priesthood of Jesus). The priesthood actually exists in three tiers (all believers, sacrament of priesthood, and high priesthood of Jesus). The priesthood is not some sort of power-grabbing intellectual movement, this is in contradiction to the teaching of our Lord (Matt. 20:25-26). We are not permitted to rule over others. This is anarchistic, but it nevertheless is something that draws me to Catholicism, my tendency to swing toward anarchism. The priest himself is a mystical icon of Christ who was male (some would dispute and argue he was both male and female since God is genderless–God is genderless but Jesus became incarnated as a male human being to save all of the humanity that which he had assumed). God forbid the ideal priesthood ever become a power-grabbing intellectual movement.
6. Confession. Not fun in the Eastern Rite or middle ages if you haven’t confessed since last Easter (confession being public and all), but the need for it still exists and sometimes we just can’t deal with our own selves as we are and we need to get it out of our systems. My Evangelical Protestant upbringing understood this idea as leaning away from sola fide since if we need to confess, it implies we don’t trust God working in us. This is wrong. Confession is extremely important.
7. Anointing of the sick. This is God’s gift of healing for the sick…God participates again giving aid to those who are sick or dying.
My Evangelical Protestant upbringing shorthanded my understanding of God’s role in the church. If everything is an intellectual movement on my part then how am I going to find God? I would sooner prefer the atheism of my older sister than the deism of my Evangelical Protestant past.