Life is a journey; the choices you make now will determine your eternal destination.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Journey, Continued-Grace

Since I am giving away some copies of the book ,"The Incredible Catholic Mass", this week I will share with you some of its beautiful writing.

Grace is a supernatural gift by which man is made just, pleasing in the sight of God and worthy of everlasting life. This grace is infused in the soul at Baptism and never leaves it, unless it is obliterated by mortal sin. This grace is twofold: there is Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace. By means of the first we are brought out of a state of mortal sin into a state of grace; from sinners we become just; from children of wrath we are made children of God and heirs of Heaven. By means of the second, man grows in grace by good works.

How precious grace is St. Thomas Aquinas tells us: "One single grace," he says, "is a greater good than all the good things of the world." If an Angel had to state the true value of God's grace, he would be compelled to acknowledge that the least drop of grace outweighs all the gold, the silver, the jewels, all the wealth of the whole wide world. It is difficult to believe this, still more to comprehend it, yet it is undoubtedly true. For whoever possesses the smallest degree of God's grace is the friend of God; and if he dies in this grace, for the sake of it, God will give Himself to him as his reward, as He spoke to Abram: "I am thy Protector, and thy reward exceeding great." (Gen. 15:1) Therefore, since in God are all the treasures of Heaven and earth- nay, treasures far surpassing all that are in Heaven and earth- it follows of necessity that if man, by faithfully cooperating with grace, receives God Himself as his reward, he obtains a hundred thousand times more than he would have had if the world with all its riches had been given him for his possession.

Furthermore, be it known that a pious Christian, by every good work he performs, increases God's grace in him, and this not merely by great works, but by every good work however insignificant, even by every holy thought and pious aspiration. All such thoughts, words and works increase God's grace in the soul, and each one merits an accession of grace now and a greater reward hereafter, according to Our Lord's own words: "Whoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, amen, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Matt. 10:42). That is to say, he will receive greater joy and glory in Heaven; God will give Himself to him in more plenteous measure. He will grant him to know Him more clearly, to love Him more dearly, to enjoy Him more nearly. Now, seeing that God's grace is earned so easily and that he who corresponds to it obtains so great a reward, who will not strive to do what is good and to serve God with all his heart?

Consider what wonders grace works in the soul. In the first place, it invests her with surpassing loveliness, rendering her so fair and attractive that the beauty of the sun, the stars, the flowers, of man himself cannot compare with hers. If we could only see a soul in the state of grace, we should be forced to admit that, in comparison with it, nothing fair in nature is of any account.God Himself takes pleasure in it and would rather that Heaven and earth shall pass away than that the beauty of such a soul should be marred or destroyed by mortal sin. Even the least degree of grace is productive of this beauty, but it is enhanced and increased by each added grace.

Thus, grace gains for the soul the favor of God and causes it to be united to God in a close, tender and familiar relationship. The soul, when beautified by grace, is indeed so dear to God that He is pleased to dwell with it, rather than in Heaven itself, provided it makes a due return for His love. And even if the soul does not do its part, He does not withdraw from it until it separates itself forcibly from Him by mortal sin. Then He forsakes it reluctantly and feels it more deeply than men or Angels can conceive. Nor does He yet altogether abandon the soul but stands at the
door, knocking from time to time, as if asking for readmission, as He Himself says: "Behold, I stand at the gate and knock.... if any man shall open to me the door, I will come in to him." (Apoc.3:20).

The author goes on to talk about the Mass as the greatest means of obtaining grace. A few paragraphs later he writes:

The Fathers of the Church state expressly that God rewards with special graces those who hear Mass. St. Cyril says,"Spiritual gifts are freely given to those who assist at Mass reverently." St. Cyprian says, "This supernatural bread and this consecrated chalice are for the health and salvation of mankind." Pope Innocent III says "Through the power of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, all virtues are increased in us, and we obtain a plenteous share of the fruits of grace." "Christians should never neglect Holy Mass," says St Maximus, "because of the grace of the Holy Ghost, of which all who are present are made partakers." Fornerus declares positively: "The potency of the merits of Christ's Passion is most forcibly felt in Holy Mass in procuring for us graces and celestial riches in marvelous abundance." Thus the Fathers of the Church bear unequivocal testimony to the fact that divine grace is poured out richly, copiously, on all who assist at Mass.

So, my friends, the road to Heaven is paved with grace. And it isn't that hard to stay in a state of grace; Go to confession, attend Mass regularly; daily if possible; and consciously avoid situations that cause you to sin.

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