SIGNS CAN BE SYMBOLS OR SACRAMENTS
Once you accept the assumption that there is absolutely only one form of life that is eternal and that every other form of life is a sub form of that one God Life, sacraments can be explained quite simply (a fortiori).
A sign that is a mere SYMBOL would be something like a photograph. I can be recognized in my photo but the photo is NOT PART OF me. You could tear it, burn it or stomp on it and I would be untouched.
A sign that is a SACRAMENT would be like my face. I can be recognized by my face in a way that I cannot be recognized by my hand, even though the hand is just as much me as my face. However, my face is PART OF me. You may not tear it, burn it or stomp on it without violating my very being.
Remember, I submit that it is IMPOSSIBLE for humans to grow in the saving faith that there is no separation without experiences (sight, sound or touch). But, it is equally impossible for tiny creatures like us to see the whole God life. We are like the fleas on the back of the dog, with dog hairs growing up all around them, and the one flea says to the other, "Sometimes I wonder if there is a dog." We have to learn about the whole by seeing some part of the whole that is sacrament--that speaks to us in a "language that is understood.
HOW CATHOLIC SACRAMENTS (LANGUAGE) WORK
BASICALLY, SACRAMENTS ARE BODY LANGUAGE. A PART OF SOMETHING THAT IS SEEN (EXPERIENCED) IS USED TO REVEAL OTHER PARTS OF THE REVEALER THAT ARE NOT SO RECOGNIZABLE.
· We could start (but I'd rather not) by saying that Jesus is the ultimate sacrament of God. It is true that his human life form, like our own, is part of the one God Life. But, he is also a God Person. So, I think "Mediator" is my preferred term for Jesus in this context.
· I start with the Church as the "universal sacrament" of God's love in the world for humanity. The Church is part of humanity and can show the world who and what it really is.
Then, we have parts of the Church that are sacraments (language) that show us who and what we are as Church. (Mary is a unique sacrament to the Church. And the liturgy (particularly the 7 Sacraments) are parts of the Church that reveal in a special ways its true identity.
The bishops at the Second Vatican Council said more than once that the Church is the "universal sacrament" of God's love in the world. Why is it universal? Because where two or three are gathered together in Jesus' name we will always see love. Everyone understands the language of love when they see it, don't they?
Although we don't usually hear Mary called a "sacrament" to the Church, it is most certainly our teaching and tradition to say that we look to Mary in order to see what we are as Church. Just as Mary was the mother of God in his First Coming, so (by the power of the same Holy Spirit) the Church is the mother of God in his Second Coming. [See THE CREED]
We give flesh to God all the time as we RECOGNIZE God in the Eucharist, in the poor, the broken, in other religions and cultures, in the ugly and even in ourselves. We say: "This is my body...my blood." Only people of faith recognize the risen Lord. The risen Jesus came to Mary Magdalene and to the disciples on the way to Emmaus and to the apostles fishing in the 21st Chapter of John. None of them knew it was Jesus at first; but, they were people of faith who came to recognize him. "It is the Lord!" In that recognition, we give flesh to the Lord. "Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have" (Luke 24:39).