Berry on food as sacrament

If I ever talk of daily food as a sacrament — a visible sign of grace — there are those who grimace. They are concerned, I think, that in casting the net so broadly I am in danger of diminishing the real worth of the ‘sacramental’ and, especially, the more formal sacraments of the church.

My own view is that to allow the sacramental to be limited to particular church rituals, no matter how rich, is to diminish the sacred possibilities inherent in all of earthly life. Even worse, when it comes to faith that implicates every aspect of our lives, we let ourselves off the hook far too easily.

In regard to food, Wendell Berry says it succinctly but well:

‘To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such a desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness and others to want.’

5669124Wendell Berry, The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural, Counterpoint, 2009, 281.

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