Paul Thomas Moore: May the Grace be with you, in all the seasons of life

In My Father’s House / By Paul Thomas Moore

Did you ever feel inadequate? Not quite up to snuff? Too old, too young, too short, too tall, too much of this or not enough of that?

God’s got our number — carved on the palm of his hand.

If I ever feel inadequate, God begs to disagree — and he has an ownership stake in the property in question. God asks only that I bring the burden to him, and not try to address the ache with the alternately benign (silly) or malignant (sin-ny) distractions the world has to offer.

If I ever feel inadequate, God begs to disagree — and he has an ownership stake in the property in question.

Instead, God has the grace to bring peace to my afflictions/temptations, even those of a longstanding nature, as St. Paul related, “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee. . . .’” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

That’s the faith I refresh during this season of wonderment as I recall the “reason for the season,” and as I re-read “Grace Through the Seasons” by Joyce Heiple of Germantown Hills, published by Covenant Books and reviewed in The Catholic Post edition of Feb. 25, 2021.

This helpful little book is about how grace has followed Joyce through the seasons of life, some of which have been stormy. She discovered that grace helped steer her through the storms. As well, a blessed teacher, playing music at church, Cursillo, friends, the beauties of nature, and her partnership in her husband Rob’s diaconal vocation also served as agents of grace in her life.

AT WORK EVEN IN DARKEST TIMES

Grace can grow even in the absence of spiritual consolation, as St. John of the Cross described when he wrote of the “dark night of the soul.” Paradoxically, he described it as a “happy night.”

Having faith that grace is at work even when we feel discouraged is not just a challenge for us, but one that has been felt by our greatest models of sanctity such as St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Mother Teresa (who chose her religious name in honor of Thérèse, though she opted to use the Spanish spelling).

At one point, Thérèse wrote, “God hides, is wrapped in darkness.” The letters of Mother Teresa published after her death in the book “Come Be My Light” reveal feelings seemingly even more bleak, “There is no God in me. . . . I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer.”

Yet, Thérèse and Teresa still planned hopefully what they would do in Heaven. Thérèse vowed, “I will spend my Heaven doing good upon earth.” For her part, Mother Teresa promised that she would play hooky from Heaven, “If I ever become a saint . . . I will continually be absent from Heaven — to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”

OUR HEARTS INTO ALIGNMENT

As much as they may have tried to walk in the Lord’s will, for much of their lives Thérèse and Teresa didn’t feel too many spiritual pats on the back. To compare it to a marriage, they didn’t get that honeymoon feeling anymore. Still, they operated on faith, loved others in his name, and God graced their efforts: through Mother and her spiritual daughters he established a global network of service to the poor, and through Thérèse’s personal testimony (“Story of a Soul”) he drew the hearts of millions closer to him.

Grace’s antidote to the dark night of the soul is to hold onto the hem of the Lord’s garment. As author Jennifer Hubbard (whose youngest child, Catherin Violet was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012), has written, “sustained and steadfast prayer ultimately brings a heart into alignment with the workings of God.”

The lesson for me is, I won’t change God through my prayers, but in making myself available to him in my gifts and in my glitches, in glory and pain, little by little, grace by grace my heart will better reflect that which it beholds: his Sacred Heart.

It’s not a duty thing; it’s a love thing.

Or, to paraphrase Luke Skywalker, “May the Grace be with you!”

PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at paulthomasmoore@hotmail.com.

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