Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mercy is... for everyone

I love this narration on Mercy is/The Lord is kind and merciful... ! It is a very simple sentence, yet says really what our Lord's message of mercy is all about. This is why I had my youngest narrate this one sentence - it really takes a "childlike" attitude to really embrace these words. Throughout the years it is so interesting how the more we understand hurt, and opinion, and passion of our own ideas; the less open we are to sharing those ideas, or perhaps opening the door a glimpse for dialogue to happen.

This is a week of prayer for Christian unity. It's interesting living in the south, because I don't necessarily find it difficult to talk about faith here. In fact practically everywhere I go, from the grocery or post office, to a Dr.'s office; you can wish someone a "blessed day", and they don't look crazy at you. In fact, it is not unlikely to be approached with some kind of smile, or reference to our Lord and Savior, as I am walking to my car with the man at Publix. (They take your groceries and load them for you, no charge!)

However, the other side to that coin is the misconceptions that can arise from other denominations, and the other side to that dialogue...oh, your Catholic,...? Some think we are destined for hell if we not "really" baptized in their faith. I am happy to say though, that in most cases, this does not happen, and as Christian brothers and sisters of any denomination we share a true love for Christ, and His teachings; and I praise God for that.

Rather than get into an ecumenical debate however, my thoughts today have to do with sharing a simple prayer. When recording the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, I knew that it is a devotion, or meditative prayer, known largely in the Catholic faith. One that I have found much comfort in, many times over. I did not really think of it reaching interest beyond our faith.

Then one day while praying the chaplet, I realized how "ecumenical" it really is. It is a prayer uniting everyone on the same need of God's ocean of mercy. Of course this is the case! Just as the Creed is recited in many denominations, and the Our Father is universal as well, a prayer asking for mercy for "the whole world" is completely non-exclusive:

" for the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Now, I have shared the CD with many christian friends, catholic and protestant alike, and many people of other denominations speak of the beauty of the Chaplet. In fact, one woman from our church purchased one to share with her brother, a minister of a protestant church. He shared with her how beautiful he felt it was, and was going to share it with his church I think at a prayer service.

So, I guess, we must look at our prayers sometimes with a childlike trust in God, and what He will do with those petitions. As adults, we may think with limitations, but God has no boundaries. Christian unity is possible, we just can't put "human" limits, or water it down so that there is no definition to it either. I do pray for Christian unity, that hearts will be opened up to an understanding of faiths, so that dialogue can happen, through the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Just my own thought on ecumenism. "Mercy is...for everyone."

Friday, January 8, 2010

got GRACE?

The other day, I had the word Grace in my thoughts. It followed me throughout my morning, and stayed with me as I was preparing for Mass. I kept thinking about how beautifully Mary was greeted in (Lk 1:28) Hail Mary, “Full of Grace”. Then, remembering the “fullness” of my humanity I thought, wow, if only…

I had my journal next to me and I wrote:

*filled with Grace


Love like you are*
Pray like you are*
Be humble as if you are*…

I understand all too well the difference between “Mary” the Mother of God, – of course she was filled with Grace – and myself; a forty something house mom of 3 from Georgia who gets overwhelmed by the simplest task. So why was I considering the thought that we could live, love, or even pray as though we are filled with Grace? In fact, the next words, “the Lord is with thee” sheds the light on that truth, reminding us that Mary, being human, is “full of grace” (because) “the Lord is with” her. She was chosen by God to carry His Son. Ok then, I am nowhere near being “full of grace”. So, where am I? ½ way full? 1/3? 1/8?

I’m obviously not talking of the Grace that we say before we eat our meals, or a little extra time to pay off my Visa, no I’m talking of that supernatural sanctifying grace which the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes as:

The free gift of God establishing the soul in the way of justification and
holiness. Its intimate nature is beyond mere human analysis, but judging by its
effects, we are justified in regarding it as a physical adornment of the soul,
permanent in its essence, incompatible with grievous sin, recreating the soul as
a new nature competent to act supernaturally and meritoriously. It is habitual
grace regarded under one aspect - the real interior sanctification which
enriches the soul and makes it permanently holy in the sight of God.

Then it dawned on me, Grace is bestowed on each and every one of us; it is a gift right? Here is where I openly admit to a very basic non-scholarly, theological understanding. Particularly when I am discussing something that is “beyond mere human analysis”. But, I imagine perhaps to fully receive and participate in that grace, we have to acknowledge its presence.

There are so many opportunities we have to experience that grace, the Sacraments for example. But, if we settle on a fraction of the “fullness” of grace that Mary was, then we might never see “full”. So, here is what I am thinking, I am nowhere near being “Immaculate” as Mary was, but can’t I continue to “fill up” when I fall? If the Sacraments are an outward sign of the God’s grace, and sanctifying grace is an interior sanctification that is making the soul holy in the sight of God, then I must also need to acknowledge that grace to some extent. I know it doesn’t stop – but do we? The precious blood of Christ continues to fall upon us – yet, if we do not take the time to go to mass, or receive the sacraments, or even spend time in prayer and acknowledge that indeed we need His grace to flow on us – will it? No doubt, it’s there, but don't we need to live in it?

As an example, if I am a vessel of some kind, empty, then I go to the source to add “life” to it – in this case Grace. If I choose to receive a bit and feel better knowing that I have received Grace – is that enough to “live” in that grace? How can I share that grace with others if there is “just enough”. I have caught myself thinking, “I really don’t want to continue asking for grace – “but, in truth there is an infinite amount to go around. So, today I have a thought that if I continue acknowledging, really “knowing”, that grace – then it will continue “filling up” in an ongoing basis – spilling over – flowing freely to others.

Lord, may I find the humility to acknowledge your Grace; that I might know and live in Your grace, and share it continually through love with others. Amen