Reflect on the law of the Most High, and let his commandments be your constant study. Then he will enlighten your mind, and make you wise as you desire. Sirach 6:37
Last week we kicked off the new liturgical year in the Church with the beginning of Advent. The Church gives us Advent as a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child into the world. It is a time for silent contemplation of all God has done for us in sending His Son to save us from our sins. This is a stark contrast to the world around us that is feverishly shopping for gifts, preparing for holiday get-togethers, and focusing on the busyness of the season.
In the Church, liturgical years are called “years of grace.” All of the liturgies and prayers of Church take us through Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection, as well as other key moments in salvation history. This year, the new liturgical year began on December 1st. To make the new liturgical year spiritually great, a true “year of grace,” we need to predispose ourselves to receiving God’s grace.
This begs the questions, “What is grace?” and “How do we get it?” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “Grace is a participation in the life of God” (CCC, 1997). We receive grace through the Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Eucharist, and especially in Marriage. Grace is unmerited favor, power, “spiritual steroids.” In order for grace to work in our lives, we need to have faith. As an illustration, consider grace as the electrical power grid. In order for us to be able to use that power to light our homes, we need to plug into the outlet (the sacraments) and then flip the switch, an act of faith. We can leave the switch off and fumble around on our own in the dark, or we can flip the switch on and receive all the power to live our lives as beacons of Christ’s light to our families, friends, and neighbors.
To receive this grace, we need to humbly submit our lives, every aspect, to the will of God. We do this through obedience to the commandments, daily prayer and Scripture reading, and frequent partaking in the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. God pours grace upon us and we need to be free of mortal sin in order to receive it. Consider our lives as a beautiful chalice. God wants to fill that chalice with grace, overflowing grace. By sinning, it is as if we place our hand over the top of the chalice, blocking the flow of God’s grace into our lives.
Find time during this busy season to be quiet with God, contemplating His bountiful love and mercy. He is waiting and longing to spend time with you. Will you spend time with Him?
And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16