Will I Say Yes To Grace?

grace_logo_whiteback“Be patient with everyone, but above all with thyself. Do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage” – St Francis De Sales

One question has crossed the minds of many seeking to live a life of holiness. It is a question of ability; “will I be able to remain faithful in the face of temptation or struggle?” It is a question Abraham had to face when God asked him to sacrifice his only son. A question Mary encountered when the Angel Gabriel presented her with the mission of Salvation in Christ. A question Jesus posed to his disciples in Capernaum after teaching about the Bread from Heaven, “will you also go away?”

Our current generation acknowledges the authenticity of this question and hails those who are able to triumphantly overcome it. Their motto: “tried and true”. Why do we have this natural inclination toward authentic fidelity? My guess would be because God put it there and made it a part of our ethical compass.

Considering our present struggles and encounters as well as those of the future, we sometimes tend to doubt our ability to respond virtuously. As if we were lacking in capacity or grace. There might even be times when we consider testing our fidelity. We look at the examples of the saints or martyrs, especially those of our time and think how impossible it would be to reach that level of abandonment and trust. It seems like a sacrificial fairytale of love that could never be lived up to if ever we were presented with such fate. But God is not asking us to take that dramatic leap unnecessarily, he is not asking us to go from giving up a favorite treat to sacrificing our very lives. He does not demand that we go from white martyrdom to red martyrdom. If it is His Will that we cross those flames then so be it he will provide the grace but we should not be self-seekers of such glory.

This does not mean, however, that we lay idly in contempt either. God calls us to greatness, He is asking us to live a life of sanctity. This is a universal call without exceptions, except those we set on ourselves. Every one of us has the capacity to actualize it and is expected to try. But the way in which it is lived out is as numerous as the stars, each path is unique in its own way according to God’s design.

So, how do we respond to temptations and struggles? we do it by accepting God’s grace at every moment. By entering into the habit of examining our strengths and weaknesses in God’s presence. Where is he asking us to grow? what area of our life is he asking us to focus on? What failures is he asking us to ponder on and learn from? What virtue does he ask us to practice at any given moment? There is a level of acceptance that needs to take place in our hearts when it comes to his workings in us. The grace of transformation is there and it is up to us to accept it and willingly embrace it. “God is never wanting. God always gives sufficient grace to whoever is willing to receive it” (St. Francis De Sales).

We should remember this next time we come home from a busy day and begin to ponder its activities. Pondering the various interactions we had, the good and bad, the could have/ should have’s and the questions of future encounters. When we think of what we said, what we did or what others said and did to us and our response. The questions we ask are not a waste of time or a result of over analytic tendencies. This here is a habit with potential. This here is the Examination of Conscience prescribed to us by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Will I Say Yes To Grace? The very act of venturing into the struggle of responding with fidelity to God at every moment is a sign of our YES!

 

 

Simplicity

What is simplicity?

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“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

When Jesus said become like children I have a feeling he did not mean suck your thumb again, or learn to crawl, I don’t think he wanted us to become ignorant, uncensored, or unlearned. What Jesus wants from us is a pure heart willing to become vulnerable to him. A simple heart, one that is dependent, trusting, open, and loving toward him. Not afraid to follow, not cautious of failure, not doubtful of truth spoken.

Recently, the Carmelite sisters of Alhambra, CA posted a quote on their facebook page which made me pause in the midst of my day. I read it and considered how something so simple could become so complicated in my life. The quote was words from their mother foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament (or Mother Luisita for short) which read: “My recommendation to you is this: Be simple. Simplicity is a beautiful virtue very pleasing to our Lord.”

Simply put, life is not as complicated as we make it out to be. And God is pleased with us as we are. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jn 14:6 As the light of the world he offers a brighter path than any other light can give.

If we were to take out our life’s compass what would we see? would we find in it a North, South, East, West or would there be one simple but certain direction, “God”? Would we be more inclined to follow a four way compass or a one way? As far as I am concerned one direction is easier to handle and more peaceful to follow. The One, Beautiful,  True, and Good God is definitely worth our trust. Hearts would no longer be divided, the soul would be fulfilled, every action straightforward and full of pure intention, words would bear fruit, and thoughts rest on the divine.

Could such a way truly be grasped. Could it really bring joy into our lives? Well if God is the creator of all things and the source of all things, if He alone can sustain all things into being, and provide the fullness of Love by his very essence, what other way can we possibly follow if not the way of perfection? The way of union with Him.

Faith brings about this simple abandonment to the Divine. It is through faith that we can make sense of life’s circumstances. The hand of God is in everything we do, experience, say, think, decide. And it is up to us to accept divine providence at work in us. God is the one from whom all good things come. He uses every part of us for his glory and in his glory we are sanctified.

One mission: Love

One goal: Heaven

One purpose: God’s glory

One Way: Jesus

One attitude: Simplicity

It is that simple; Go to our Lord for answers, for help, for love, for guidance

Go to our Lord in sorrow, anger, fear, doubt, despair

Go to our Lord with gratitude, joy, peace, abandonment, success.

United with Him we can become who he intended us to be as long as we continue to follow His divine compass which leads back to him. Cant get any more straight forward. Simple as that.