I haven’t been intensely following the synod on the families, because I think I’d rather wait to hear the conclusions at the end instead of getting all worked up along the way. I pray for our spiritual leaders, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide them just like He’s done the last two thousand years or so. I did, though, read the text of one of Archbishop Chaput’s interventions today: http://aleteia.org/2015/10/10/archbishop-chaput-to-synod-fathers-we-need-to-call-people-to-perseverance-in-grace-not-confirm-them-in-their-errors/
The part that really struck me was when he wrote that “The work of this Synod needs to show much more confidence in…the transformative power of grace…..we need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them…Marriage embodies Christian hope.”
I have wanted to write a blog on my thoughts on grace for some time now, but I couldn’t figure out how to formulate it, and then the good Archbishop summed it up for me. Let me explain how I got here.Over the summer, I began to work for CatholicMarriagePrep.com, an online, self-paced, instructor-led marriage prep program. There are essentially 7 topics that couples think about, answer worksheets on, and then an online instructor such as myself answers and expounds upon them. It is amazing and I highly recommend this preparation to engaged couples getting married in the Catholic Church! It is adaptable to older couples, convalidations, and everyone in between.
What has really struck me as an instructor is the third worksheet on the Sacraments. Being able to express their form and the grace attached – even though I basically have a theology degree – was somewhat challenging! And then, we had to give a short testimony on the transforming grace of our marriage, and that’s what opened my eyes to really ask myself if I believe in grace. Because if I did, wouldn’t I be open to it, asking for it, and seeing it work in my life? I had to really think.
Without getting too technical about the types of grace, let’s focus on the big picture: grace is a gift. A free, undeserved help that God gives to His children (CCC 1997). It allows us to participate in the life of God, to attain the divine for which our soul yearns. The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion. (CCC 1989).
Who doesn’t want free gifts? If someone offers me free food, free baby clothes, etc, I never say no. Then why is it so easy to ignore the free gift of grace? I know that sin has something to do with that, but I want to focus here on the grace. Because, like Chaput said, marriage embodies hope. Hope of what? Hope that the grace of the sacrament can transform us into the true image of God, who is Love. Marriage has the ability to take us beyond our humanity and into the realm of divine. Love is hard work, made easier with grace, but still requires sacrifice. And I think because the goal of marriage is so transcendental, and so divine, that it is easily attacked, misunderstood, and given up on.
So here’s the challenge to couples married in the Church, who have the sacramental grace of marriage: Live it. Ask for the grace to love your spouse better, to lay down your life more willingly, to love your children more purely. But above all, to be transformed by that grace into Divine Love itself. With grace, our marriages will be a witness the world cannot ignore. With grace, we won’t give up on the hope of the greatness God intended for us.
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