Editor’s Note: Enjoy this first in a new series on the grace of Fr. James Brent, OP We are happy that he has contributed to our website and to our understanding of how God works in the soul and how we cooperate in the process of sanctification. As noted by Fr. James explains below that this divine work is a natural outgrowth of our baptismal grace and is the calling of every Christian – and it is always the goal of all the content we seek to share on Spiritualdirection.com.
The grace of God appeared.
“The grace of God appeared” (Titus 2:11). Thus, a new kind of life is possible for humans. Thanks to the incarnation of the eternal Son of God, His death and resurrection, the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into our souls in our baptism. Baptism established in us a new form of life – a supernatural life – as friends of God, other Christs in the world, adopted sons and daughters of the Father, members of the Church and the temple of the living God. Such a gift was given to us not because of any of our merits, but because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). He poured his grace into our souls to change us in the depths of our hearts. And the gift of His grace, which is something from His own Divine Life, must grow in us.
Few people understand that God’s grace given to us at baptism is intended for this to grow. God works to increase His grace or supernatural life in our souls, but God also calls us to participate in the process of growth through our free choices and various practices. Each of us is called to go on a journey from the land of our slavery to the land of the living God in heaven. The journey is difficult, and “many are the trials of the righteous” (Ps. 34:19). Yet through them all the God of grace is with us, to lead us to the victorious seats in the Jerusalem above. Living according to grace is the way to the Light. There is no other way.
God Himself has revealed to us ways and means so that His grace may increase in us and that we may shine as light in the world around us. This is the Gospel that the Church proclaims to the world The kingdom of grace is at hand. The kingdom of grace there is the title of this series of articles on the spiritual life, and the purpose of the series is to provide traditional, time-tested and true teachings about the mystery of grace, the growth of grace in our souls, and how to live our lives. according to God’s grace more and more.
The series will touch on many themes of the spiritual life: the importance of grace, how the Spirit living in us through grace works to form “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27), and how everything leads to the Father. Friendship with God, filial adoption and the Trinity living in the Gospel are just some of the topics, as well as practical aspects of living by grace, such as fruitful reception of the Eucharist, different forms of prayer and the importance of acts of mercy. Living in the Kingdom of grace leads to the purification and illumination of the depths of the heart of each of us. It leads to the restoration of the image of God in the depths of our hearts. This leads to an ever-increasing inner likeness to God – deification. Living according to grace leads to a new awareness of what God speaks to us in the Holy Scriptures and in the liturgy, to a new awareness of the presence of God who lives in our hearts, to a new awareness that God shines around us in different ways in people and in nature . . In short, it leads to contemplative prayer and to the wisdom of the heart.
These are some of the topics in our series, and the best way to start is with humility, that is, with a tiny, practical step. Why not take a short moment, find a quiet place, get as quiet as possible and say a simple prayer? Any prayer will do—the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, or any other that seems appealing at the moment. God never asks us to start from a place other than where we are now. He never asks more than what we can do today because of the grace that has already been given to us. The point is to ask for new favors. Let’s ask God to give new life to our hearts, new graces for his Church and new graces for many people who live “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2, 12). Hurt and broken hearts, even the whole world, so desperately needs God’s grace. It is time to seek His grace now. But let’s do it with confidence in the words of the Lord Jesus: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7, 7).
Father James Dominic Brent, OP, is a Dominican friar who lives and teaches at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. Several of his homilies, spiritual conferences, interviews and radio clips can be found in his personal Soundcloud website. He often lectures for Thomistic Instituteand appears on Aquinas 101.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.