Why do Catholics have so many rituals? Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers states, “The beautiful thing about rituals is that they draw us out of ourselves and connect us more deeply with the lives of others.” Birthdays are an example. There’s cake, candles, balloons, presents, and they happen annually. It’s a great time to be together in community with and friends. But rituals are not something that happens only on special occasions or once a year. Rituals occur in our day-to-day lives. Think about a normal weekday. You get up, you eat breakfast, you take a shower, you get dressed, you go to school, and you start your classes. Or what if you play a sport? First you warm up, next you go out on the field and stretch, then you run, finally you practice. These routines are rituals. And rituals can give a feeling of comfortableness or normalcy such as being at home – or even being drawn to something deeper outside of ourselves. They can also engage our bodies, minds and souls – which is exactly what the rituals in the Catholic Church do such as the mass, the sacraments, and sacramentals (things that aren’t officially sacraments but still draw a person more deeply into the life of God and into the life of faith). When God wants to engage us, he doesn’t suddenly engage us with the ears, but what is considered “the ear of the heart” – Benedict XVI. These rituals in the Catholic Church help to touch our hearts so that our hearts can be more open to receiving the love, mercy and joy of being in a relationship of an intimate, personal, loving and life-giving community with God.
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