Stop and Smell the Roses

Hey everyone!  It’s been a beautiful few days, and it’s becoming clearer that summer is indeed on the way.  I’ve broken into full warm-weather mode- sundresses and flipflops, lying out in the backyard when the sun is at its peak and taking long walks in the warm evenings as the sun is setting.  It’s really a beautiful time of year, and if you’re looking for God, He’s easily found.  God can be found in so many places- in the tabernacle, in one another, and in ourselves.  But He’s also to be found in nature.  God created the world good, and He gave it to man as a gift.  It’s a gift to be celebrated, and accepted with grateful adoration.  God did not need to give us anything, but He chose to give us everything.  And what’s more is the fact that He gave us this beautiful world as a sacrament of His Presence.  What do I mean by this?  Aren’t the sacraments events like baptism, and marriage, and communion?  These of course are indeed three of the seven recognized sacraments within the Catholic Church, but the word ‘sacrament’ is not limited to these few occasions.  Everything is a sacrament: you, me, and the world.  Confused yet?

As I said, the Church recognizes seven distinguishable sacraments by which the grace of God is communicated to man.  As the Catechism (and many older Catholics) tells us, a sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible reality.  Sound familiar?  It’s a classic catechism answer, but few Catholics truly understand what that definition actually means.  Sacraments are signs that point to God; they are reminders of His Presence.  Created in the image and likeness of God, man is a sacrament, a sign of God’s love.  Created for our enjoyment and use, the earth is also a sacrament.  It is meant to remind us of God, and of His love for us.  When was the last time that you really thought of the world as a sacrament of God’s love for man?  When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses, and to remind yourself that that wonderful scent is God’s sweet perfume, His efforts to intoxicate the love of His Life, to captivate His Beloved.  And who is God’s Beloved?  We are.

When we embrace this sacramental worldview, when we are aware of the fact that God gave us this earth as a sign of His love for us, the world is transformed before our eyes.  We see it in a different light, though rose-tinted glasses, so to speak.  The scent of spring flowers in the air becomes the perfume of the Lover, and the rose bushes become a bouquet of roses for the Beloved.  The birds singing in the trees becomes God’s melodic profession of love, and the warm sunbeams on our faces becomes the gentle, pure caress of the Lover.  God’s love transcends the sexual bodily love that human persons can share with one another; He is not a sexual being (though our masculinity and femininity are in fact reflections of a deeper, more transcendent reality to be found in God).  God does not merely love as we do; He is Love itself.  Love is something that we do; it is something that God is.

So next time you’re taking a walk, and you feel the sun on your face, or the wind whipping through your hair, give thanks to God for this sign of His deep love for you.  When you find yourself walking through a warm, light rain shower, or through a shower or falling leaves or flower petals, remember that this is God telling you once again that He loves you.  When you inhale and smell the sweet scent of spring flowers, stop and smell the roses.  God gave all of this to us as a reminder of His profound love for us.  He gave it to us as a sign and sacrament of His love.  Give yourself a chance to appreciate these signs, to stop and smell the roses.  And remember to be grateful for this beautiful gift.  God wants to give us so much, and all we have to do is accept it in gratitude.  Let yourself be intoxicated.  Let yourself be captivated.

Sunflowers are one of God's most beautiful creations, and a definite sign of God's love for us.  You can't help but be joyful!

Sunflowers are one of God’s most beautiful creations, and a definite sign of God’s love for us. You can’t help but be joyful when you see them!

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