When I encounter Christians who are unfamiliar with the reasoning behind the sacraments or rituals of Catholicism, I try to explain that one needs all the grace one can possibly get. These vessels bring about new ways of receiving grace, new communication lines to reach God. These sacramental acts, amazingly, bridge an inescapable gap: the vast space between the limitations of our human bodies and minds and the Kingdom of God. On our own, we cannot reach a vantage that offers a view of the mysteries of God. But perhaps our earthly selves can participate on a higher level than we are normally confined to through the sacramental life offered by the Church.
This is why I’ve come to understand that Catholicism is the only law that can liberate us. Catholicism provides a way to break free from our many confines with the slim chance that, if prepared and prayerful, we might come to untouched territory: complete newness in experience and relationship with God. These moments, I believe, are just a taste. They come and go, and often are not present. Our habits in the tradition of the faith scaffold us along the way, though, preparing us for a chance encounter that is anything but chance after all.
For those who see sacramental ritual and life as esoteric at best and blasphemous at worst, I say it is the opposite. Recognizing the need for the sacraments is an act of humbling oneself. It requires accepting an incredibly human state and need for translation and illustration — arguably, quite a bit of extra work just for the chance to get a little closer to experiencing the mysteries of our faith. Who are we, after all, but mere humans? Who are we to suggest that we don’t need all the help we can get?