Edging Toward Enchantment: Dripping Sacramentals

I've suggested in the last few posts that we can edge back toward enchantment by embracing a sacramental ontology. We can do this by recovering a Catholic imagination, coming to see the world as "charged with the grandeur of God."

But as I pointed out in the last post, the paradox here is learning to set aside particular places, times, activities and things as uniquely sacred, hallowed and sacramental. Re-enchanting our days involves adding a sacred texture to our lives.

We can re-enchant time by embracing the liturgical calendar and fixed hour prayer. As a simple example, over the last few years Jana and I have been very intentional to celebrate all twelve days of Christmas, from December 25 to Epiphany on January 6. We keep the tree up through the 6th and keep playing Christmas music. We keep our house enchanted--with music, lights and nativity sets--for the entire liturgical season. We don't tear everything down on December 26, rushing into the disenchanted New Year's day celebrations of football and watching the ball drop in Times Square with celebrities. Personally, from a celebratory stance, I wholly ignore New Year's Day. I find it an unwelcome intrusion into the Christmas season.

As another example, I've also embraced fixed hour prayer. I work hard to pray Morning and Evening prayer each day, along with Compline before closing my eyes to sleep.

Beyond time I also try to enchant space. I do this by using and embracing sacramentals. Sacramentals are material objects that are set aside and/or blessed and are used, in the words of Wikipedia, "to excite pious thoughts and to increase devotion."

Candles, prayer beads, prayer ropes, religious medals, scapulars, statues, kneelers, pictures, icons, oil, ash, palm leaves, water, incense, crosses and crucifixes. 

To help myself edge back toward enchantment I've filled my life with sacramentals. I carry prayer beads and wear a prayer rope. I wear a religious medal (depending upon what I want to spiritually focus on I rotate between St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Michael and St. Thérèse of Lisieux) or a crucifix. Icons fill the walls and shelves of my office. A crucifix hangs on the wall above a prayer kneeler. There are candles. I listen to Gregorian chants.

At Freedom Fellowship we also like to use oil when we pray over people.

And though it's a bit unorthodox, I'd even argue that tattoos can be sacramentals. Material reminders of the sacred.

Years ago, inspired by Nadia Bolz-Weber's liturgical calendar tattoos, I got a tattoo of Rublev's icon of the Trinity on my left arm.

When I finally got to meet Nadia last year I made sure we got a picture of our sacramental ink.

You'll also note in that picture with Nadia the religious medal I'm wearing. And if you could see it, there's a prayer rope on my right wrist. The rings on my left hand also have religious symbolism.

I drip sacramentals.

It's all very intentional. No matter where I look on my person or in my personal spaces I have a sacramental there to remind me of the sacred and holy. Because in my experience, sacramentals help us re-enchant space, edging us back toward enchantment.

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