How can a mature spiritual life be enriched by sacraments and prayer?
The mature religious mind understands the relationship between the spirit and the body—that we have a material life in which our soul dwells. Both prayer and sacraments serve this purpose—to relate the physical part of our existence to the spiritual. It has often been said, for instance, that prayers are not necessary for God to hear; their value lies in our saying them, in voicing our relationship to God. Sacraments, too, are outward sign of inner beliefs and values. They relate the body with the soul through the senses. For example, the holy oil used in extreme unction not only has the oily feeling, but also the odor of the oil; the sense of smell is often the last sense to go in a dying person, penetrating the consciousness even of a comatose person, and also those attending the dying, uniting them. The rituals of sacraments serve to give sensual and communal significance to the spiritual transformation—take, for example, the rituals associated with Confirmation or Bar Mitzvah.
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