The Sacraments are the primary ways we can experience God
“God is love.” Who hasn’t encountered this phrase more times than he can count? Yet even if we accept it as true, it is not simply given that we will know it on the level of personal experience. Man’s nature, which – while inherently good, is fallen – causes us to “see through a glass darkly,” thereby precluding a direct knowledge of God. How, then, can we experience his love and learn to love him in return?
God’s grace is not limited by any human environment, and powerful experiences of his love often happen in the most unexpected places. That said, he has given us certain primary modes of experiencing his love. Above all, God has given us the Church and her seven sacraments, through which Jesus Christ himself remains present with us. Many people have deeply experienced God’s personal love for them through the sacraments of Confession and Holy Eucharist, which can and should be received regularly. Many others, however, have never been moved by these sacraments. This is often because of a lack of understanding about what the sacraments are. It can be easy to receive them out of habit and even reluctantly, but if we really grasped what kind of opportunity they give us for encountering God’s love, we would run to them. Jesus said to St. Faustina, “When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, my hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. … They treat Me as a dead object” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1385). The problem is never that God is withholding his love from us, but rather, that we might not be open to it.
To accept from Jesus’ hands the graces he brings us in the sacraments, and to live in such a way that we are able to experience God’s love more deeply, we need to spend real time in prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It is there more than anywhere else that we can get better acquainted with the intense and personal love God has for each of us – a God who has descended from Heaven in order to reside spiritually, but moreover, physically among us. We have only to get to the nearest Catholic church to find him who, all this time, has been waiting there for you.