Are we sacraments?

My pastor has a habit of frequently reminding us that that “each of us is the greatest sacrament, next to the Blessed Sacrament.”

Why do I feel when I hear that, that a fingernail has just been scratched against the blackboard? It is an involuntary reaction. I don’t know why I have it. Am I nuts? It just doesn’t sound right to me. Please ease my mind on this.

I imagine that your pastor is probably using the word sacrament in a very loose, almost poetic, sense, rather than a strictly theological sense. He is probably trying to say that embodied spiritual souls (i.e., human beings) living in a state of grace are a physical sign of God’s grace at work in the world.

Theologically speaking, sacraments are material signs that convey God’s grace. The seven sacraments are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, confession, anointing of the sick, matrimony, and holy orders. In the words of the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification.” This means that sacraments are gifts to human beings for human sanctification. If humans already were sacraments, they would have no need of sanctification because they would already be holy.

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