Publisher: Lyrics © CARLIN AMERICA INC, MEMORY LANE MUSIC GROUP,WINDSWEPT HOLDINGS LLCSongwriter: GEORGE DOUGLAS, BOB THIELE GEORGE DAVID WEISS
“The “Catholic World” has a lot more to it than churches. It’s also a world of libraries and bedrooms, mountains and seaside, galleries and sports fields, concert halls and monastic cells–places where we get glimpses and hints of the extraordinary that lies just on the far side of the ordinary…” (Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel beginning of chapter six).
So what do a Louie Armstrong song and a quote from a Catholic book have to do with each other? Well, if you continued reading chapter six of Letters to a Young Catholic you would be introduced to the term “sacramental imagination”. What is this fascinating term and why should you care? Let’s break it up and see if we get some insight. First the word sacrament, now I know whenever I hear the word a memorized definition comes to mind, “a sacrament is an outward sign of an inward spiritual reality (grace)”, and imagination well that is the eyes through which children see the world, it is what turned a stick into a sword, a pile of dirt into a pie. This term sacramental imagination suggests how we are able to picture God in all His glory as we participate in the sacraments.
It suggests that the oil of baptism is not some greasy substance that has no meaning, but that that oil is the anointing of a king or queen into the kingdom of God. Sacramental imagination is what allows us to attend mass and realize that we are not participating as individuals but every time we open the doors and smell the incense and taste the body of Christ we are united with every person attending mass all over the world and all the angles and saints in heaven.
But this spiritual imagination does not stop in the way we participate in the sacraments, but is a perspective on the world. The ordinary things in life: the grass, the sunshine, and a family meal. Those things do not only become the stuff that makes our ordinary life, but those are the still small voices that God uses to talk to us. Spiritual imagination is looking at a world with awe and wonder not because we live in some delusional state where we ignore all the pain in the world, but where we are able to look at the world with even more love then before because we know it is something to be loved.
This is how a childlike sacramentally imaginative person approaches faith, knowing that you will not understand everything, asking questions, discovering things with a smile, imagining everything and stepping back and marveling at the beauty of it all even if we don’t have everything figured out.
It’s running to our Father when were scared or the second we’re tempted or concerned. It’s longing to be nowhere except wrapped in his strong capable arms. It’s looking at a sunrise and seeing the gates of heaven; it’s looking at the sacrament of the Eucharist and participating in the Lamb’s High Feast. It’s never losing our belief and wonder and hope. It’s telling God everything and knowing that we are never nothing. It’s loving until it hurts and laughing until we die. For it is only through the innocent view of a child that the glory of heaven is truly revealed.