Gracious Living

 In the Catholic tradition, living in relationship with God is referred to as “living in the state of grace.”  When we are are free from those actions, attitudes and choices that place our path in opposition to the God’s Life, we live in that state of grace.  That is, I think, a rather narrow experience of what it means to live in grace, and seems to limit the idea of grace to something that is more or less mechanical and not all that “amazing”, as our beloved hymn asserts.  Grace  exists not only within us, it is also found around us.  It is the spark of divinity that lies within us that radiates warmth and love outward, touching everyone we encounter.  It is the unseen hand that seems to reach down and pull us up when we need it most. And living in the state of grace has nothing to do with our feelings of worth (or un-worthiness, as the case may be) because grace is completely unearned.  It is the favor of God, freely bestowed and available to us, our birthright as Christians.  When we open our eyes to its pervasive presence, we find and experience grace everywhere.
Grace is in  the rain bringing back the green to our drought-stricken lawns and gardens in July.  It’s the unexpected lead on a perfect job or opportunity for ministry that comes from a casual conversation. Grace is what happens to  someone when they miraculously escape injury; it is even the things we call “good luck”, like when we are able to get home before our tire goes flat. Grace resides in the love between two people, the  gift or check that comes unexpectedly in the mail, the down comforter on our bed, and in the acts of forgiveness we bestow upon others. It is grace  that moves us to go out of our way to help a stranger. In music, a grace note is  the pause between notes that is so important to the pacing of a song. Grace is  the state we are in when we are doing nothing but just being who we are meant to be.

Understood in this way, we are never outside the state of grace–not because we don’t make ridiculous mistakes, because we do.  Not because we aren’t often falling short of our own ideals, because we do that daily.  When we accept that we always exist in a state of grace, however, we are able to  live our lives more graciously. Knowing we are graced gives us hope, makes us  more generous, and allows us to trust that we are taken care of even when we are  going through difficult times. Grace is our benevolence of heart, and our  generosity of spirit. Grace is unconditional love and the beauty that is our  humanity. Think of it: if our humanity wasn’t beautiful, why would God have chosen to become one with us through the coming of His Son?? When we know that we are blessed with grace, when we are confident that God’s love can never be lost to us, we can’t help but want to  live our lives in God’s service.

I hope that this week brings each of you a deeper awareness of the grace that dwells within and without, helping you make it through the squalls of life.

About frmichelrcc

I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Wisconsin, did graduate work in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and also at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. I have been a Benedictine since I first professed as an oblate in 1982, making final profession in 2009. I have worked as vocations director in a large diocese in the mid-west and am a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition. I have 3 sons, one of whom is now in God's loving embrace in eternity, and 2 grandsons, Bradley and Jacob.
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