A Sacramental Reality
April 24 – April 29, 2022
The sacramental principle is this: Begin with a concrete moment of encounter, based in this physical world, and the soul universalizes from there, so that what is true here becomes true everywhere else too. —Richard Rohr
The Sacramental Principle
Sunday, April 24th, 2022
Father Richard Rohr introduces the heart of sacramental theology, that our particular and ordinary circumstances are the places where we meet the Universal Christ:
Every resurrection story found in the Gospels affirms an ambiguous—yet certain— presence of the Risen Christ in very ordinary settings, like walking on the road to Emmaus with a stranger, roasting fish on the beach, or looking like a gardener to Mary Magdalene. These moments from Scripture set a stage of expectation and desire that God’s Presence can be seen in the ordinary and the material, and we do not have to wait for supernatural apparitions. We Catholics call this a sacramental theology, where the visible and tactile are the primary doorway to the invisible. This is why each of the formal sacraments of the church insists on a material element like water, oil, bread, wine, the laying on of hands, or the physicality of marriage itself.
By the time Paul wrote the letters to Colossae (1:15–20) and Ephesus (1:3–14), some twenty years after Jesus’ era, he had already connected Jesus’ single body with the rest of the human species (1 Corinthians 12:12–31), with the individual elements symbolized by bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:23–26), and with the entire Christ of cosmic history and nature itself (Romans 8:19–23). This connection is later articulated in the Prologue to John’s Gospel (written decades after Paul’s letters) when the author says, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of humanity” (John 1:1–4), all grounded in the Logos becoming flesh (1:14).
The core message of the incarnation of God in Jesus is that the Divine Presence is here, in us and in all of creation, and not only “over there” in some far-off realm. The early Christians came to call this seemingly new and available Presence “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
The sacramental principle is this: Begin with a concrete moment of encounter, based in this physical world, and the soul universalizes from there, so that what is true here
becomes true everywhere else too. And so the spiritual journey proceeds with ever- greater circles of inclusion into the One Holy Mystery! But it always starts with what many wisely call the “scandal of the particular.” It is there that we must surrender, even if the object itself seems more than a bit unworthy of our awe, trust, or surrender. The purest form of spirituality is to find God in what is right in front of you—the ability to accept what the French Jesuit and mystic Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675–1751) called the sacrament of the present moment. 
 Jean Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence, book 1, chapter 1.2.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019, 2021), 29–31;
Just This (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2017), 32. Explore Further:
• Watch this video introducing Richard’s book The Universal Christ.
• Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
• Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
The bread and the wine together are stand-ins for the very elements of the universe, which also enjoy and communicate the incarnate presence.
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