Ken and Bill say hello again to our listeners as we enter our second season of episodes discussing our excitement about aspects of the daily living-out of our Catholic faith. This season is all about “Incarnational Piety” and the aid our Church provides through resources such as sacramentals. In our conversations, we want to celebrate different ways to enrich the action of living the faith in this world while focusing our minds and hearts on the Kingdom of God.
We start this episode looking back at our “Season One,” which focused on joy as a key part of one’s mission of evangelization to others. Each episode was also an “encounter” (appropriate to the “EncounterPoints” name) for the two of us as we got to know each other better. Pope Francis has emphasized the value of authentic encounters among people right from the start of his papacy. He wants humans to build a “culture of encounter.” You can read how he described this in a morning meditation posted in 2016.
What do we mean by “incarnational piety”? The Second Person of the Holy Trinity entered our world, born in a human body, making God’s loving presence profoundly available to us in everyday life, so the incarnation is worth understanding better and celebrating as a continuing encounter with the Lord in our own day. Piety is an act of justice, as Ken points out, because God has given everything to us, and we should conduct our lives as gifts to God. The Catholic Encyclopedia at the New Advent site talks about what it means to be pious in connection with popular devotions.
And that leads us more deeply into the subject matter of this second season of episodes. Sacramentals are a beautiful part of a life of devotion and incarnational piety, engaging our senses and reminding us of God’s sanctifying grace. These sacramentals, as defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia, go along with lives enriched by popular practices and personal holiness. It’s wonderful to use material things to remind us of supernatural things, rather than staying mired in the strictly secular world of materialism.
Our aspiration toward higher things is fully appropriate given the fact that God became incarnate—emptying Himself (Philippians 2:7)—to lift humanity from the mundane to the divine. Section 460 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the quote—from St. Athanasius—about Christ’s desire to bring us into full union with the life of the Trinity: “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”
Given how appropriate and joyful it is to draw closer to the Lord in our earthly acts of incarnational piety, we’ll explore various ways to do that during this series of episodes. Among the resources that will help explain this drawing closer, the Church provides a Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. We’ll be talking about the beauty of “encounter points,” such as sacramentals, in the upcoming weeks, so please “stay tuned.”