Question: Can ordinary folks experience a state of grace?
Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa.
A lot of ink has been spilled trying to understand how God’s grace “works” but the fundamental point is that grace is a gift from God that changes and heals us and allows us to grow in His friendship and discipleship.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “the grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.
It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification” (CCC n. 1999). But because God respects our free will so highly, He will never force us to respond to His love and mercy so although grace begins with God, it involves our co-operation.
The Catechism helpfully clarifies that “the divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom” (CCC n. 2022).
St. Paul touches on this when he wrote: “but by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them — though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).”
God’s grace allows us to become a sister or brother to Jesus Christ and an heir in hope of the Kingdom of God. On our part we need to respond to this gift of God in Christ to be an authentic Christian and a true son or daughter of God.
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