A Sense of the Sacred
A Sense of the Sacred

When do you have a sense of the sacred? When have you felt that you were in the presence of something quite special? I often experience this when I visit an art museum. One notices it immediately. There is a hushed silence that people automatically adopt when they enter a gallery. I wonder why? Maybe it is because it is expected of us. Generally everyone knows to keep a certain decorum, perhaps it is because we know that we are walking among precious items of great monetary and cultural value. Perhaps we sense great genius around us. Whether  we like a painting or a piece of sculpture is beside the point, we comprehend that really fine art comes about through great talent. We have a sense that the artist is indeed touched by the Divine. (The same can be said about music, whether it is the composer of the piece or the musician interpreting it—really good music, regardless of the genre, is inspired by God.)

So why don’t we sense the sacred anymore when we enter our church? I was talking with a friend about it and she suggested that it might be because we are not aware of the Tabernacle, which contains the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps she is right. We forget that the Blessed Sacrament in its own special chapel, richly furnished and artfully decorated, meant to bring the proper reverence due to the reserved Eucharist, is still within the church building. We forget that the sanctuary lamp burning above the chapel’s entrance is there to remind us of God’s presence.

Equally important is the belief that we are indeed holy people, baptized and blessed, we are Christ’s Body on earth. We are sacred. Happy to greet one another we should also be aware that we are entering a sacred space, a place where God is present with us in Word and in Sacrament.   (January 22, 2003)

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