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Themes in Christian Spirituality III: Meeting our Grace.

Updated: Jan 11




Saint Elizabeth Seton (1774-1821) presents to us a picture of God's Grace being available in the most horrid of places. This reminds me of the story told by Eli Weizel (1928-2016) that speaks of the atrocities in the World War II concentration camps, and in particular of the time when the Nazis were hanging people, including a baby that would not die.


In this story, the child was choking as it hung there in front of the prisoners who were brought out to witness the executions. One prisoner cried out in anguish, "Where is God!" Someone answered, "There is God", pointing to the baby. Where is God indeed. I look at Grace, which is God's gift to humanity, in this manner. It is stored up in both the good places and the bad places.


I believe that if God's Grace is present, then God is present, in both the good and bad places. God exists in the most beautiful and uplifting spaces and is at the same time experiencing the billion tears that humanity has poured out since the beginning of time. God is with the happiest and healthiest person and God is with a dying aids patient. God was with that dying child and in the lives of every person in that concentration camp.


One can not expect the Grace of God to be any different. Once we accept the presence of God's Graces, it is good to be open to the possibilities of finding our Grace. For myself, I believe that I have taken advantage of some of the opportunities God has offered me. My involvement in my Faith Community is a testament to that. However, I try the best I can to discern what God wants for me. I believe that there is more I can do and it is up to me to be mindful of the messages others are sending me as a key to where God wants me to go.


Grace is the recognition of both the message and the presence of the One sending the message. For example, about two week ago, a friend of mine and former neighbour took sick. It so happened that I was a visiting a couple that just had a baby and I was preparing them for Baptism. At the end of our session an ambulance went to the ailing neighbours house. I decided to go over and offer some kind of help.


The youngest son, whom I've known since he was a boy was left home. He was obviously distraught, thinking that his father was about to die. I felt that God's Grace was here and I began to share it with him in my own way. I kept the mood light by joking around with him. He appreciated it. At the end of the evening , he found out that his father was stable and latter would find out that he has a very treatable blood disease. I believe that God's Grace is His call for us to join in the Divine presence, whether it is in Auschwitz or in your neighbours house.


So I am mindful of God's guidance. My call to the Church is only one place where God stores Grace and I understand fully that I may be guided in a different direction. I am comforted in knowing that I have been blessed by the experience of knowing Grace through my Faith Community. My mentor, whom I have mentioned many times, Father Francis Abbass (1931-2019), had been a source of knowledge and was an inspiration to me in regards to possessing a Grace that tells us that God is alive and present in the world.


In our lifetime, who could be a better example of possessing Grace then Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)? This living Saint exuded Grace and was a living testimony of God's desire for Justice, Mercy and Faith through Love. Mother Teresa was a store of Grace waiting for us all to tap into. The point is that with Grace, God's presence exists in the world (even in the most horrid of places) and it is up to us to both recognize it and apply it to our daily lives.


End.


Originally submitted to the Rev. Tom Maddix as a Master of Theological Studies course requirement 554v - Taking a Chance on God - Major Themes In Christian Spirituality St. Stephen's Theological College University of Alberta

Published on April 8th, 1997

{Revised October 30th, 2023}


© Dr. Charles Warner 2023

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