A Division Between Sacred and Secular? No…that is impossible!
22 Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, 23 “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”). Matthew 1:22-23 (TEV)
20 . ..And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:20 (ESV)
1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2 Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (TEV)
“In many Catholic parishes of the twenty-first century there is little sense of sacred space. The reverent silence that used to prevail in Catholic churches is rarely encountered, even in churches that have an ample narthex where the gathering congregation can greet one another before entering the church proper. Yet if the church proper is the Porta Coeli, the door of heaven and the portal of the Kingdom, then surely one ought to act in that space somewhat differently than one acts at the local mall or supermarket.“ (1)
I have, in the last few months as I have digested Weigel’s book on the century long changes in the Roman Catholic Church, found many things that are well stated, many things that are Biblical, many things I wish my own church would implement in attitude. But no church denomination is perfect, and no plan of man for its reform is without error, And I think I’ve found one, one that is sadly reflected in my own church as well.
It’s this idea that there is a distinction between that which is sacred and that which is secular, or to use the philosophical categories – sacred and the profane.
Like many people, Weigel sees the church facility as a transition place, a place where we go from the unreligious, unrighteousness of our world into a transition zone – we are coming close to God, and therefore our mind, our attitudes, our bodies must change. His line about acting differently in that space, more reverential. more sanctified, more holy, is a great point – and yes – I would love for my own church to have a time of meditative silence, to think about how much we need to remember we dwell in God’s presence. It would be beneficial, it would be nice.
But the reasoning is flawed. It’s not about what we do that prepares us for the blessings of sharing in Word in sacrament.
It is even more flawed because it teaches us that our lives are somewhat split. We behave one way in church, when we are in the presence of God, and one way when we are at work, or home, or a ball game. It’s as if we say – hey we aren’t in God’s presence anymore, we can now behave like the rest of the world. That was “His time” and now – the rest of the week is “ours” It doesn’t work that way – and that we allow people to think that way is not a beneficial thing.
God doesn’t want that 60-75 minutes a week. ( but the more we realize how it blesses us, we should! ) He wants to share every moment with us, that is why He is called Immanuel ( Immanent/Immediate God), that is what He has promised us. That is the gift of our baptism, as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. Yes the time where blessings are poured out are awesome, but so can be the times in the night, when we need His comfort, and realize He is there. The blessings of having Him bring us peace, in the midst of trauma or adversity. Even the restoration, when we realize the depth of our sin, or how we have created an idol that we put in His place… and cry out for forgiveness and restoration.
Christianity is not about our practices, it is about our living with God. It is about the fact that there is no secular space for us, there is no profane time, because He has invaded it, cleansed it, set it apart for our time with Him.
The church doors being a division between such? May we never think that way… may we never teach it that way… may we live each day, each moment, whereever we are, in His peace, in His mercy, in His glory…. in HIs love.
(1) Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 157). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.
Posted on August 17, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Catholic Church, Divine presence, Evangelical Catholic, George Weigel, God, Holy Ground, Holy Spirit, Porta Coeli, Sacred and Profane, Sacred and Secular, the presence of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.