Fr Stephen Freeman on “Make it to be” vs. “Show it to be”:
Fr. Alexander Schmemann famously said that sacraments do not make things into something else so much as they reveal things to be what they are. We hear this in St. Basil’s Liturgy when we ask God to “show” the bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Christ. The Baptismal liturgy does the same, asking God to “show this water…to be the water of redemption, the water of sanctification, the purification of flesh and spirit, etc.” This is a very different form of thought. Of course, the language of “making” is also present, but I suspect the “making” is something other than what we often imagine.
In an odd way, when we imagine the world to be “secular,” and fear its progressive banishment of all things religious, we unwittingly agree to be secularists ourselves. The fundamental concept of secularism is that the world, or certain aspects of it, exists apart from God and is entirely self-referential. This tree is just a tree. That sky is just a sky. This imaginary construct is reinforced by labeling certain things as “religious” and placing them in their own zone of influence, as though their removal somehow protects the neutrality of the otherwise secular world.
In point of fact – there is no such thing as “secular.” All things are created by God, and exist only because they are sustained by His good will. Everything points towards God and participates in God who is the “Only Truly Existing One.” When the Orthodox speak of the world as a “sacrament,” it is simply stating this fact… The greatest commandment, according to Christ, is to “love God, with all your heart, mind, and soul.” This is not at all the same thing as saying, “Make God first in your life.” God is first only in the sense that there is no second: all means all. This is the only path towards true integrity. St. Paul says it in this way:
“…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:17)
This is not a commandment for our “religious” life, for there is only one life. That one life is our soul.