I was recently listening to the new show “Into the Deep” at www.SQPN.com and heard this interesting quote from Chesterton. While searching for the quote I found this great article at www.firstthings.com:
“The Christian sacraments, for example, are not valid unless both form and matter are present as prescribed. The tendency to spiritualize Christianity is nonetheless pervasive-to make it like so many other religions, to attune it to the angelism (i.e. New Age) that in every generation attracts so many of the most intelligent and sensitive souls. In opposition to those who would wish a purely spiritual religion,once defined Catholicism in shocking terms resonant with the sacramental sense of God’s presence in His creation: Catholicism, the very fleshly G. K. said, is a thick steak, a glass of stout, and a good cigar.
“A religion committed to the flesh is at least as lowly as a smoked cigar. It is for commoners as much as (even more than) aristocrats and is also, alas, irremediably vulgar. Catholicism sometimes seems positively weighted down by the flesh, as on a too-hot day, beneath the droning of a too-poor sermon, in a too-crowded church filled with listless, distracted, bored fellow participants. Weary with having tried to make things constantly better, experienced Catholics have learned to employ such experiences as epiphanies of grace, like the sacraments themselves, reflecting that here too Christ is present, emptying himself, making himself disponible, redeeming our heavy humanity. At the heart of Christianity lie the sinner and the humdrum mediocrity of daily life. The neighbor we are called upon to love is not the rosy abstraction, humankind, but exactly those neighbors who get on our nerves-and indeed precisely when they do so. Christianity is not a religion of escape. It commands the acceptance of the banal, the boring, and the repetitive-on the grounds that these especially are vehicles of grace, even though often disdained and contemned as was the Messiah in Isaiah 53. These especially are as surely the bearers of the life of grace as are, for the human body, the repetitive beating of the human heart and the steady circulation of the blood. Such boring realities are always undervalued until their rhythms threaten to come to a halt-when suddenly we glimpse how precious they are, and how miraculous each strong, steady beat of the weakening heart actually is.
“Because it is a religion of the flesh, Catholicism sees signs of the Creator in all the things He has created. Like a lover, one sees bursts of His glory in the morning sun and the crisp air, in the bellowing fury of a storm and in a caterpillar hunching himself on his slow course up the length of a bending leaf. Each angle and idiosyncrasy of concrete things is like a mystery to be read and wondered at. Why are there caterpillars? Why so many species of indescribably poignant roses? Why is there anything at all?”