Sanctify? It starts with sacramentality first and foremost

Dana Pham (pronouns: who/cares)
3 min readJan 7, 2024
My parish

“I see the doorway to a thousand churches.” — In Your Eyes, song by Peter Gabriel

In the Orthodox Christian world, Christmas was yesterday, so that brings my Orthodox holiday to an end. I’ll still visit Sts Mary and Mina’s in Bexley in future, but I remain a steadfast Anglo-catholic. Coptic Orthodoxy, whether it’s the music, or the finer theological points, remains too foreign for me to accept. So why continue to be drawn by a foreign Christianity?

Catholic laity are called to sanctify the world. An example of this is to oppose same-sex marriage (SSM) legislation. Indeed Sydney Anglicans contributed $1m to the “no” campaign in the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite. But I look upon that action with disdain, and it’s likely not for the reason you think.

Sacraments are visible Christian signs of an invisible divine reality, where mystery is symbolic and reality is Sacramental. Depending on the branch/denomination and its attitude towards sacramentality, there are up to seven Sacraments. Since Vatican II (give or take), the Catholic Church has been losing its sense of sacramentality, the most egregious example of this being Pope Francis’ crackdown on Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).

Last year, I went to a TLM wedding, where a lid was kept on the fact that the wedding was TLM. It was the most beautiful wedding that I’ve ever been to, it was a recreation of the Garden of Eden before the Fall. I had become drunk on God’s wine that day (wine symbolises God’s outpouring love). So much so that the legislative question on SSM is neither here nor there. That experience completely sacramentalised my understanding of marriage, I simply cannot unsee what I saw at that wedding.

With the exception of my parish and a handful of others, Sydney Anglicans are basically Baptists with bishops (why don’t they just call themselves Sydney Episcopal Baptists?). They’ve lost more of their sense of sacramentality than Rome has, and for much longer, yet they somehow expect everyone else to easily accept their Biblical position on marriage? Sydney Anglicans have not been effective in sanctifying the world, and no wonder, since you’ll probably struggle to see Heaven on Earth at a typical Sydney Anglican service.

Sanctification and sacramentality go hand-in-hand. From what I can see in Australia, Orthodox Christians don’t usually make headlines for sanctification attempts, maybe it’s because there aren’t as many of them, or maybe they generally have a better understanding that the back-to-basics would be rediscovering a sense of sacramentality? Maybe if Rome did not let go of that sense, there would be no need for “Blessings of Couples in Irregular Situations and of Couples of the Same Sex”? This is not a question about egalitarianism.

This is a question about what is God’s Kingdom in its revealed totality, and do we want to be a part of that? We’re in the world, but we should not be of the world as we should be a part of His Kingdom without a desire to invite in a worldly world outside that doesn’t desire His Kingdom at all. Those in the world who are genuinely curious should be invited in to experience the Sacramental in its totality, and those of the world and happy to be of the world should not be allowed to make His Kingdom feel less sacramental.

--

--

Dana Pham (pronouns: who/cares)

Trans-inclusionary radical feminist (TIRF) | Liberal Arts phenomenologist from @notredameaus | Anglo-catholic | all opinions expressed here are my own