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Fr. Alexander Schmemann famously said that sacraments do not make things into something else so much as they reveal things to be what they are. We hear this in St. Basil’s Liturgy when we ask God to “show” the bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Christ. The Baptismal liturgy does the same, asking God to “show this water…to be the water of redemption, the water of sanctification, the purification of flesh and spirit, etc.” This is a very different form of thought. Of course, the language of “making” is also present, but I suspect the “making” is something other than what we often imagine.
In an odd way, when we imagine the world to be “secular,” and fear its progressive banishment of all things religious, we unwittingly agree to be secularists ourselves. The fundamental concept of secularism is that the world, or certain aspects of it, exists apart from God and is entirely self-referential. This tree is just a tree. That sky is just a sky. This imaginary construct is reinforced by labeling certain things as “religious” and placing them in their own zone of influence, as though their removal somehow protects the neutrality of the otherwise secular world.
Point - Fact - Thing - Things - God
In point of fact – there is no such thing as “secular.” All things are created by God, and exist only because they are sustained by His good will. Everything points towards God and participates in God who is the “Only Truly Existing One.” When the Orthodox speak of the world as a “sacrament,” it is simply stating this fact.
When God became man, in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, He shows the sacramentality of all things. First, and foremost, He shows what it means that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God – “He is...
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