Participating in the life of God

We have been created with certain inherent talents that inform us intuitively and quite unconsciously as to what is right, what is moral, what is ethical, and what is good. It is a part of our nature, as creatures made in the image and likeness of God, to be good and to do good; goodness can be found within every human heart, even those who profess no belief or faith in a Creator God.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Instilled within every human heart are the elementary characteristics that cause parents to love their children, neighbors to respect and behave well toward neighbor, and employer to treat their employees with honesty and fairness. This moral code is part and parcel of the human experience; we are born with it and cannot rid ourselves of it, although unhappily we can and all too often do, ignore it and even deny it.

While it is within our nature to know what is right, moral, ethical, and good, we carry within us the inclination to sin inherited from our first parents when their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil. Fundamentally we are flawed by concupiscence and cannot of our own strength hope to remain in perfect goodness for any significant length of time. Simply put, we are inclined toward sin, and will without assistance, find ourselves lapsing, falling upon occasion into grievous sin.

God, who gives us life itself, desires us to be good, to be holy, so that we might live in his perfection for all eternity. He understands our willfulness and inclination to sin and although we clearly don’t deserve it nor can we earn it, He gives us His grace to prop us up, to strengthen our will, and to build within us the humility to ask Him for forgiveness. Saint Augustine, acknowledged as the Doctor of Grace, wrote “It is the grace of God that helps the wills of men; and when they are not helped by it, the reason is in themselves, not in God.” Without God’s free gift of grace we cannot hope to achieve or remain in holiness, in that state of sanctification necessary for salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” [CCC 1996] “Grace is a participation in the life of God.” [CCC 1997] Pope Francis says that “Grace is not part of consciousness; it is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason.”

Grace has been a part of the conversation within Christianity since the earliest days of Christ’s Church. As Max Lucado points out “The apostle Paul never seemed to exhaust the topic of grace – what makes us think we can? He just kept coming at it and coming at it from another angle. That’s the thing about grace. It’s like springtime. You can’t put it in a single sentence definition, and you can’t exhaust it.” It is a topic upon which volumes have been written, and where both mystery and controversy surround it. What is essential to understand is this: God’s grace sanctifies and leads us to salvation.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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