"Other human signs began to receive specially gracious meanings: oil (anointing and dedication to a work), human leadership, healing of sickness, reconciliation, marriage. These were now thought of as sacraments, as special and efficacious signs of God's grace at work. Through oil, fire, water, bread, and wine; through the friendship of others; and through the attractive body of a human of the opposite sex, God was at work in the world. He was giving himself to us as a continuation of the gift in Jesus. Indeed, these quite ordinary and mundane things were now seen as a continuation of the Christ event. In the sacraments, and indeed in the sacramental signs themselves, the Easter experience became present to us once again.

"But these various signs are able to be sacraments, are able to convey grace to us, precisely because all material elements are gracious. All things reveal God's goodness to us if we know how to look for it. The whole world is a sacrament, a revelation of graciousness. In the Christian view of things the natural powers — water, fire, air, fertility — are not sacred in themselves but rather in what they reveal. The Christian might more appropriately speak of them as gracious instead of sacred. They reveal goodness because they participate in goodness, or, to become metaphysical for a moment, they reveal being because they share in Being.

"Grace, then, lurks everywhere — in brickyards and back alleys, in the snow and the wind, in the sun and the stars, in the waters and the fire, in the tiny flower, and in the volcano. It is in the branches of trees, in weeds, in the chirping of birds, as well as in the roar of an elevated train, and in the desirable body of another. The environment is a sacrament, and to ruthlessly exploit it is a sacrilege. The world is a chalice of grace, and to treat it with disrespect is blasphemy. The world is grace, and not to appreciate it is ingratitude.

"But the world is not a passive sacrament; the environment does not stand idly by waiting for us to perceive its graciousness. The Holy Spirit, who, after the Christ event, began to take over as the Lord of the world, is actively pursuing us with a world that commands our attention with its splendors and invites our admiration with its beauty.

"And grace is not merely lurking around the corner waiting for us; it is chasing us madly down the street.