Sunday, September 24, 2006


God's grace with us

In today's Collect, we pray: "Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always go with us, before and after, making us continually zealous in good works".
God's grace goes with us; in hhis wisdom and goodness, he has given us a share in his own nature, by the grace he has given us through Jesus Christ his Son ( Rom. 7. 25). Without grace we can do nothing; with it, we can do all; it will make us "continually zealous in good works". God's grace is given us at Baptism, by which the soul becomes a temple of the Blessed Trinity, a tabernacle for our God.
Christ has said, "If a man has any love for me, he will be true to my word; and then he will win my Father's love, and we will both come to him, and make our continual abode with him."(John 14.23) God dwells in us, not only by his omnipresence, by which he dwells in all his creatures, but in an especial and wholly interior manner. By grace we become partakers of God's nature, in a way that we cannot possibly fathom. We are raised above ourselves, and become capable of living God's own life. The actions we perform, inspired and animated by grace, attain their supernatural end: the possession and love of God.
But grace does not, for all that, annihilate nature; on the contrary, it builds upon it. Human nature must work by the means proper to it; that which it does becomes agreeable to God by the grace that informs it. It is therefore the grace with us, which enables us to do what is right, what God's love urges us to do. As St. Paul says: "With us, Christ's love is a compelling motive" (II Cor. 5. 14.). That was why the great Apostle laboured day and night, never ceasing to do good to all. May we, as he did, use all our powers, natural or supernatural, in the service of our fellow men; nothing will be too much, since it is Christ whom we serve in them. We shall none the less be working for souls, since the final object of all works of charity is the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. On our death-bed we shall regret no moment spent in working for our neighbour; but rather those in which we have not served God in him.
Whether our occupation be humble or honourable, we must utilize every instant of the time granted us for the service of our Master. Even when age or infirmity has put an end to our exterior activities, we can still work for God, thanks to his grace with us. Passivity can be, in his eyes the greatest activity. When Therese of Lisieux was beatified, witnesses of her life declared that in her Carmel, and thus not on active service, she had converted many souls; and in the life of another Carmelite, Sister Gertrude Erzberger, we read, "She was in the constant habit of visiting, morning and evening, the harvest fields of the world, converting souls, visiting souls, visiting the sick, consoling prisoners, assisting the dying, showing the way to those who were seeking the truth, protecting youth so menaced in our time, baptizing heathen babies, etc. Her faith in the Communion of Saints was so great that she was convinced that by prayer and sacrifice she could do all these things."
That is the way God's grace works in us, as long as we do not hinder it, and as long as our activity is accompanied by prayer for more grace, more love.
The degree of our eternal happiness will depend on the degree of love we have reached at the moment when it pleases him to call us home. God measures our reward by the efforts we have made to live and work with his grace and to increase that grace in us. There is not an instant to lose - each one can gain us eternal bliss and is therefore infinitely precious. May God's grace work freely in us all! Then we shall attain "perfect manhood, that maturity is proportioned to the perfect growth of Christ."
Lord, we thank You for the grace you give us. Grant us courage and steadfastness and make us ever "zealous in good works". Dear Mother Mary, pray for us, come to our aid!