Catholic Teachings - O'Brien: A mediation on grace

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Grace will be a little bit easier to understand if we study it through the eyes of those who gave themselves completely to God. Such a person was St. Rose of Lima (1586 - 1617). She was born into a wealthy family in Lima, Peru. She was baptized with the name of Isabel but because an Indian maidservant called her a beautiful rose her mother called her Rose and she was confirmed with that name.

From her earliest years she devoted herself to serve the poor by means of a hostel on her parents' property. There she would feed the poor and give shelter to old people and obtain medical help for the penniless. She was initiating Catholic social help - and teaching - in that recently conquered land.

At the age of 20, because of her great devotion to St. Catherine of Siena, she became a Third Order Dominican. Her fasts were swiftly brought to the authority of the Inquisition. Those who examined her had to admit that she was directed by "impulses of grace." She told people when she would die. And she did die just as she had said. The burial was delayed for days because of the crowds who paid her homage. She was canonized in 1621 by Clement X and proclaimed patroness of Peru, all of America, the Indies and the Philippines. Her feast day is August 23.

St. Rose of Lima expressed the value of suffering in a letter to a Dr. Castillo: "If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights!

Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pain and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men." (2nd reading, Liturgy of the Hours)

From The Theology of Grace:


By his grace, God communicates to man the holiness of which he is himself the fountain-head...God imparts to us something of himself, something of his divine sanctity,something not belonging to human nature, and which man cannot attain by his own efforts. It is something freely given to man without previous merit on his part, in order to make him like to God and holy even with the holiness of God...all true Christian spirituality is a spirituality of grace, a spirituality that is the flower and fruit of grace in us, a spirituality in which we are before God as beggars, who can only receive and who look for everything from his love. Christian spirituality rests wholly upon grace, it consists in opening our hearts to grace, letting grace take complete possession of us, transform us, sanctify us, deify us, as a little child abandons itself to its parents allowing itself to be dealt with as they wish.
--Jean Daujat (The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minn.)

--July 17, 2000