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I’m up to the part in the story (of some Australian pioneers ‘Kings in Grass Castles’) where the Irishman Dinny Skeahan is ordering some cloth for the station, and instructs his son to write away for 100 yards. “How many noughts in a hundred, Dad?” he asked. “Put two,” he said “and another one for luck.” “That might make more,” the boy suggested. “Nonsense,” Dinny said. “Another nothing can be neither here nor there.”
I’m sure that there are many who think of the sacraments of Baptism and Communion in the ‘Dinny way’. “It’s just water. And just a sprinkling at that! It’s just bread and wine. And in very small proportion too! It’s nothing, naught, but a bit of luck.”
Certainly in the sacraments, the water is water, and remains just water, and the bread and wine are bread and wine, and remain just bread and wine. But just as the power of the naught is determined by its place with respect to the decimal point, so it is with the sacraments. Their placement makes the difference. Not meaning their placement on a special table, or their distribution from a special font, but their divine appointment for a special purpose, to be a means of grace. And for this reason they have great power to bless and to comfort and to encourage and reassure. It’s got nothing to do with luck, but everything to do with taking seriously the things that Jesus left for us to remember him.
DM St Patrick’s Day 2018