Monday, August 16, 2010

GRACE IS NOT A THING

Thomas Merton reflects on something rather amazing

SPIRITUAL GASOLINE?  “The more the notion of grace is treated by us in a semimaterialistic, objectified way, the more unreal it will be.  In practice, we tend to think of grace as a kind of mysterious substance, a thing, a commodity which is furnished us by God; something like fuel for a super-natural engine.  We regard it as a kind of spiritual gasoline which we find necessary in order to make our journey to God.”

RECEIVING GOD’S OWN SELF.  “Grace is not something with which we perform good works and attain to God.  It is not a thing or a substance entirely apart from God.  It is God’s very presence and action within us.  For all practical purposes we might as well say that grace is the quality of our being that results from the sanctifying energy of God acting dynamically in our life.  That is why in the primitive Christian literature, and especially in the New Testament, we read not so much of receiving grace as of receiving the Holy Spirit: God himself.”

BEING FOUND, LOVED.  “To be perfect then is not so much a matter of seeking God with ardor and generosity, as of being found, loved, and possessed by God, in such a way that his action in us makes us completely generous and helps us transcend our limitations and react against our own weakness.  We become saints not by violently overcoming our own weakness, but by letting the Lord give us the strength and purity of his Spirit in exchange for our weakness and misery.”

  -- Thomas Merton in Life and Holiness

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