But For The Grace of God.....
One day , we are told, St. Francis de Sales, the holy bishop of Geneva, was taking a stroll with his priest-secretary. Along came the town drunk weaving from one side of the street to the other. When the priest made a remark about the man's wicked life, the good bishop replied, "But for the grace of God, there I go."
When we consider the spiritual ailments with which the seven capital sins (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Laziness, Anger, Envy, Pride) have afflicted mankind, we may well wonder how it was possible for us to avoid having made a greater mess out of God's creation. How have we been able to survive at all? The answer can only be "But for the Grace of God."
Free will is an awesome responsibility; glorious in its victories for good, terrifying in its power for evil. Sin is in no way the necessary consequence of God's having created us free, and when we are made free to love, then the alternative must also be possible but when chosen it entails tragedy. The natural inclination of free will is to live and to choose the good. Moreover, our nature was created in a state of goodness and integrity with our soul in control of our body. This was a preternatural gift, man was not created in a state of pure nature but was graced and aimed at good.
Early on, however, our first parents did evil by preferring themselves to God. Why did God permit that first sin, that first misuse of our freedom, and then all the evils that came as consequence? Perhaps it was to teach us a most basic lesson; that we cannot remain good, succeed in doing good and being truly loving without His help.
Sometimes we hear people who are entangled in sin show their exasperation by saying, "Oh, how I wish God would take away my free will!" He won't. And for good reason. Only free love is real love, robotic love is programmed love, not from choice. He will though, accept surrender of it as a gift of love by letting Him adorn our soul, sharpen our reason, and fortify our will with His grace. His answer to our selfishness, then, is not rejection on the contrary, He holds out to us His blessed healing forgiveness and with it the supernatural empowering of His grace. "Amazing Grace," indeed! That soothing touch of His saving balm drives out the fever of our introverted love and gently leads us to give ourselves to Him in love. Yes, even our first impulse to repent of sin and turn to Him again is prompted by His merciful grace. And he offers the grace of conversion to all sinners. Some, still hardened in self-love, resist, others, hungry for the real thing, accept with grateful tears.
Tears of gratitude for grace can be readily understood. While the selfishness of sin is so demeaning, enslaving, and yes, constricting, the grace to love is ennobling, liberating and broadening. What a relief to be free, free of the narrowness of self, free of the burden of guilt, free of the shame of always feeling suspected and hiding from discovery; yes, free at last really "To Be Me" created so whole and beautiful by the God of love!
Source: Fr. J. H. Miller
All Christians are called to be holy, that is to be more closely united to Jesus Christ, for He teaches us: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Only through the Grace of God can we grow to holiness (John 4:14, 7:38-39).
Through His Grace we discipline ourselves and make daily sacrifices, taking up Christ's cross and following Him to the end (Matthew 16-24).
Through His Grace we can persevere in the Christian life until death, and so finally enter the eternal glory of Christ's Kingdom (Romans 8:28-30).