If I were to give you an option of choosing between two gifts, what would be your choice? Freely handing you over 5 million dollars or promising to pray a Rosary for you and your salvation. I asked this question in church, and there was a long time of silence…hesitancy!!!! Wow! Most people would blurt out: “I will take the money and run!” Others, more astute in their mental perspective, would respond: “Both!” However, those who would respond, “Father, pray the Rosary for me,” these would be those manifesting the Holy Spirit’s gift of Knowledge—knowing really what is most important in life: grace, sanctification of my soul, and my eternal salvation.
What is grace? Father John Hardon, in his Pocket Catholic Dictionary (page 166), offers us a concise and clear definition of grace: “Grace is the supernatural gift that God, of his free benevolence, bestows on rational creatures for their eternal salvation.” Adrian Rogers coined a pithy and easy-to-memorize acronym for grace: G= God’s, R= Riches, A= At, C= Christ’s, E= Expense! Excellent! Another catechetical definition for you: “Grace is the participation in the life of God, and that which makes us pleasing to God.”
Grace has unspeakable value, such that our eternal salvation depends precisely on grace. If we receive grace freely, respond generously to grace, preserve and grow in grace and finally end our lives dying in the state of grace, then we will go to heaven and be with God for all eternity! Therefore, let us launch into ways to tap into the spiritual current of electricity and hope that our spiritual “gas tanks” will be “F”—“Full.” Or at least close to full!
1.PRAYER! Any sincere, humble, prayer that issues forth from a pure heart is very pleasing to God and He Himself awards such a soul with an increase in sanctifying grace! Prayer is the key that opens the gates of heaven, the very breath of our souls, a sure means to attain grace and maintain ourselves in God’s friendship!
2. CHARITY. A major difference between Protestants and Catholics is the whole concept of active charity. Many Protestants maintain that faith and faith alone saves. Not so for Catholics! Faith precedes charity, because we cannot love what we do not know. However, charity is the queen of all virtues (St. Thomas Aquinas). Therefore, every action done towards another, moved by supernatural love (charity) merits an increase in grace. Read and meditate on Matthew 25: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do to me.” We should always be looking for opportunities to practice charity; however, it is good to remember that charity begins at home!
3. PENANCE/SACRIFICES. Our Lady of Fatima expressed with great sorrow that many souls are lost because nobody prays for them or offers sacrifices for them. The key is not the greatness of the exterior action but rather the greatness of the love in the heart of the individual. Remember the spiritual maxim: “Holiness depends on doing the ordinary things of our daily life with extraordinary love.” This was the essence of the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux, which is known today throughout the world as “The Little Way.” Rising from bed immediately, giving up an extra cookie, denying oneself salt on meat, praying an extra 90 seconds, smiling when you do not feel like it— all of these are small sacrifices in the eyes of the world, but can have great value before the eyes of God and attain for us choice blessings and GRACES!!!!
4. HOLY MASS, HOLY COMMUNION, HOLINESS AND GRACE TO THE MAX! By far the most efficacious means to grow in grace is the well-prepared, humble and confident reception of the greatest of all Sacraments, the Most Holy Eucharist, which is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The other means mentioned are great and highly to be encouraged. However, the frequent, faith-filled, fervent and fiery reception of the Eucharist makes light years of difference in the abundance of graces that can be received! The other way is like a rainfall upon the soul; Holy Communion is like an entire OCEAN descending in the soul! However, a very important clarification is necessary: the concept of the grace of disposition! This means that the better the preparation for Communion, interior disposition of the soul, humility and purity of heart as well as hunger for Jesus the “Bread of Life,” the more abundant the graces! “As the deer yearns for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O Lord my God.” It has been said that one Holy Communion could transform us into saints! If it has not, the fault is not in the Sacrament, but rather in the faulty recipient of the Sacrament! Let us beg Mary “full of grace” to help us to dispose our hearts to receive Jesus on a daily basis with burning hearts!
5. MARY, THE “FULL OF GRACE”. In the Annunciation Mary is greeted as “full of grace”. Indeed, of all women she can intercede for us and help us to augment grace in our souls by turning to her. In what way? A short story! St. Gertrude the Great, a great saint, writer and visionary, saw Jesus in heaven placing a shiny, glimmering, golden coin on the top of a huge pile of other golden coins. The saint asked Jesus what this meant! Jesus, on placing another golden coin on top of the pile said that every time she (St. Gertrude) prayed a Hail Mary with faith and devotion, then He was placing another golden coin in heaven for her for all eternity! Therefore, if you want to be a “spiritual millionaire” turn to Mary, “the full of grace” and pray at least fifty times a day the Hail Mary! That being done, you will have a treasure in heaven.
Jesus warned us not to store up treasures that moth can eat and thieves can steal. Rather, we should store up eternal treasures in heaven—that is to say, GRACE! Participation in God’s life in our souls! Let us strive to preserve grace, grow in grace, use the means to fortify grace in our souls and die in grace so as to attain heaven for all eternity. “Hail Mary, full of grace…pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death.” Amen!