Friday, August 15, 2008

Gratia plena

In the past one month or so, the topic of "grace" has been dominating my interest and reading. It started out with a simple question during a doctrine class in which a priest was teaching a bunch of us about sacraments - and in particular, baptism. I can't recall exactly what the question was -- I think it was adherence to natural law and the merits of non-Christians -- but the reply given was like a burst of light.

In short, he explained that in his experience, conversion to the Christian faith owes most of it to grace, rather than human merit alone. So, the non-believer or those who have never encountered the faith can be saved not only because they live in a just manner, but chiefly because God gave them grace.

Grace... what is that? Although I have been a Catholic for thirteen years now, the word "grace" has only been part of my familiar vocabulary in the last one year. Partly as part of discerning my vocation, the term "grace" entered my life through the various spiritual directors and mentors. And yet, its meaning was never made clear. At best, grace is defined as "participation in divine life." As if this definition would elucidate anyone...

Since then, I searched to find out more about Grace, and found an excellent primer in Charles Journet's "Meaning of Grace". He wrote brilliantly about grace - what it is, what it is not, and the role of grace in the Catholic interpretation of what some Protestants believe of 'predestination.' Pick it up and gain a deeper appreciation for the treasure that we have in earthen vessels.

And today, as we celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady, a day that has always been graced with signs thus far, I turn my thoughts to Our Lady, Our Mother, who is full of grace, gratia plena. Her immaculate conception probably meant that she never had to struggle against resisting graces. In fact, thinking about it, all we have to do is to NOT obstruct the workings of grace in our lives. Next to the Holy Spirit, she is our best teacher when it comes to cultivating disposition towards grace. Mater divinae gratiae, ora pro nobis.

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