"Suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire." Mal 3:2
Rituals are important in all our lives. That Jesus, Mary's first born son, would be presented in the Temple and offered to God for service, was ritually important in Jewish law and culture. Parents knew that giving birth to a son was a great blessing that called them to celebrate God's gift to them. To go to the temple in gratitude was as natural as washing their hands before eating. The Torah was clear and observance of the Torah delighted God and brought joy to believers.
Rituals are still important, especially for people of faith. Blessing one self with holy water while making a sign of the cross upon entering a church reminds believers of their baptism and its promises. And the breaking of bread at Mass challenges us to divide our food like Jesus did at the miracle of the loaves and fish so that all might eat.
Unfortunately, because these powerful rituals have to compete with all the information that comes our way in a modern society, it is easy to forget their meaning and miss their power. Religious rituals ought to help us center ourselves many times each day in the memory of God's saving love, but emails and text messages sometimes take their place. While the computer and cell phones are here to stay, we need to be cautious not to let them strip us of the call to transformation that the Gospel demands.
Today, bless yourself before each meal and pause to remember the great gift of food.
Which rituals in your life help you remember God's gracious love?