By the Grace of God

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From Small Steps for Catholic Moms, May 15:

He who knows the comforts that come through the gift of grace and knows also how sharp and painful the absence of grace is will not dare think that any goodness comes from himself, but he will openly confess that of himself he is very poor and naked of all virtue.—Thomas a Kempis (Imitation of Christ)

Show me, Jesus, the work of your hands. Bring me to my knees and give me the words to ask for your grace. Shed light on the dark places of my soul and burn away the muck. Infuse me with your goodness and help me to grow in virtue.

Page through photo albums with a child today. Share with him the moments of grace in your life. Be brave! Talk openly about the times you were afraid and how God brought good out of bad situations. Don't assume your children know the stories. Tell them!

Grace isn't really a virtue in the usual sense of the word. Grace is a gift-- a gift from God that enables the pursuit and acquisition of virtue. Without grace, we are helpless, hopeless. With grace, we are comforted, consoled, emboldened, empowered.

People ask me all the time how I do what I do. I'm always grateful when that's how it is phrased: how do you do what you do? It's a much easier question to answer than how do you do it all? I don't do it all, so to answer that particular question, I first have to explain that I don't even attempt to do it all. By that time, the questioner has lost interest because what she really wanted to know is how I do what I do. The answer there is Grace. By The Grace of God.

Nothing else. Nothing more. Certainly nothing less. When I look at the times in my life that were most peaceful, most content, even most productive, those are the times when I can see God's grace most at work. They weren't necessarily physically healthy times or tangibly productive times. They were the times when my soul was closest to God. When I knew, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He was working and He was providing and He was completely in charge. The reality is that those times are times when I felt most out of control.

Tumor growing in my chest, threatening to stop the beating of my heart and the filling of my lungs?

I am powerless. Only God.


Baby growing above the placenta instead of safely below it or beside it, life-threatening hemmorage almost inevitable? I am powerless. Only God.


Four children eight and under, including two nursing babies, with a traveling husband?

I am powerless. Only God.


Dark, dark depression?

I am powerless. Only God.


In the moment--those moments-- I didn't see the grace. Perhaps, immediately, there was very little. Instead, He allowed me to feel the sharp and painful absence of grace. Sometimes, He left me there for long, long months, even years. He allowed me the precious gift of knowing that I am small and weak and I cannot live this life under my own power. He allowed me to need Him and long for Him and beg His mercy and His grace. Then, when I could not even rise from my knees, I could pray. Could beg grace. Could see the gift of the Church in the sacraments, real and actual grace available for nourishment of my soul. To confess, to be annointed, to receive Him bodily, God in His mercy provides these for the mother, the woman, who cannot truly live as He intended without the Grace of God.

And He gives us something else. In the in-between times, the times away from the church building, the every day of living, He gives us His Word. Nurtured and nourished by the sacraments, we receive regular infusions of the grace of scripture. A slow, steady drip of grace day and night, constantly watering our souls so that they are not sharp and painful and brittle.So that they are not fragile and tentative.  A day hemmed in God's word does not unravel. It doesn't. And so I've learned. The sharp and painful absences have taught me. They have taught me that there are tender non-negotiables.

To awaken early enough in the day to steep my soul in God's Word is to recognize He is the Master of my days, my moments. To read His love, to hear Him, to let those words become a part of me is to fully awaken to the day He intends. To memorize those words so that I carry them about with me throughout my daily round, so that they come readily to my mind and to my lips, to be unafraid to utter them aloud is to live a life of grace that is readily identified and genuinely appreciated by those I touch.


I can see it. When I look back, it is obvious. The work of His hands. The unmistakable mark of His love on my life.

God, grant me the grace to see it--to seize it--in the now.

Would you share your thoughts with us, let us find you and walk with you? I'd be so grateful and so honored to have you as a companion. Please leave a link to your blog post below and then send your readers back here to see what others have said.You're welcome to post the Small Steps Together banner button also.