MANILA, July 17, 2015—Other Christians may disagree all they want, but Catholics should not apologize for wearing the scapular, praying the rosary, and using other sacramentals because they have theology on their side, argues a lay theologian.
In a recent talk, Marwil N. Llasos, a lawyer, preacher, and renowned Mariologist told members of the Company of St. Dominic (CSD) that the religious use of physical objects is grounded in theology by virtue of what he called the “Principle of Sacramentality.”
“It defines us Catholics that we believe in the Principle of Sacramentality … that God can —and He does—use matter to convey grace,” he explained.
Llasos likened those who reject sacramentals to the early heretics who claimed that matter was inherently evil and, therefore, could not possibly serve as channels of God’s power.
Matter = good
“We are not Gnostics nor Manicheans. Matter is not evil. It is not dirty. It is good,” he exclaimed.
Quoting Gen. 1:31, Llasos shared, “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.”
By its “very good-ness,” Llasos pointed out that creation is also true and beautiful.
“Good does not only mean ‘mabuti.’ In fact, what is good also means that it is true, and what is good also means it is beautiful. So the good, the true, and the beautiful can already be found in Creation,” he noted.
“That’s why when God said that is was very good, there is already goodness, there is beauty, there is truth. And God does not disdain, He does not hate matter. His material creation, according to Divine pronouncement, is very good,” he added.
While it strictly speaks about the sacraments, Llasos stressed how a paragraph in Pope Francis’ latest “encyclical on the care for our common home,” might as well be applied to sacramentals given that both involve elements found in nature.
Laudato si’ 235 reads: “The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life. Through our worship of God, we are invited to embrace the world on a different plane. Water, oil, fire and colours are taken up in all their symbolic power and incorporated in our act of praise.”
It continues, “The hand that blesses is an instrument of God’s love and a reflection of the closeness of Jesus Christ, who came to accompany us on the journey of life. Water poured over the body of a child in Baptism is a sign of new life. Encountering God does not mean fleeing from this world or turning our back on nature.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)