“Grace is a participation in the life of God.”CCC1997
Habitually implementing something into our life always begins with great enthusiasm. We consider something good, something that we are certain will enhance our way of life, and naturally, we stir up excitement for it. There is a level of hope that enflames a joy strong enough to implement and create change. Until we reach a point, which we all do when the flame begins to fade away and we are faced with mere determination. Other activities raise their voices for our attention and a decision has to be made at that moment. Will we or will we not commit to the habit we created for ourselves or does this new activity outweigh the fruit that is being had from the habit we put in place for ourselves?
God grants us the graces necessary to fulfill any implementation that nourishes our living out a life of holiness. Habitual virtue, prayer, and mortification are all means by which we can attain the holiness God called each of us to live. But our undertaking of these holy habits will, more often than not, fail us if we do not have a very clear understanding of our humanity and the need for a sacrificial will and determination. It is certainly not grace alone that transforms our life of prayer, holiness, and virtue. Grace is a gift freely given to us by God, it is an undeserving gift that sustains every possible means by which we can acquire sanctity. But because of our humanity, a collaboration between the giving of grace and our willingness to receive it needs to take place. It is within the context of our relationship with Jesus that our determination is transformed into a supernatural act of grace that sustains our commitment to walking on the path of holiness.
“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth andCCC 1731
goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.”
I suppose bad habits are much easier to come by because grace is not a necessary participant. Without a foundation of truth, our repetitive actions become fueled solely by our heart’s appetites. And so when we decide to invite grace into our habitual desires not only do we have the strength to will the good but our will begins to transform into a vessel of surrender wherein God reigns and our will bows to the glory and perfect love of God’s holy will.
There are days when I wish God could simply transform me against my own will because it appears to be much easier for him to take over my life than to give me the choice of turning toward or away from Him. Because like saint Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Rom 7:19 And yet, God loves us so much that He prefers we come to love Him freely, as a Father loves his son and not simply as a slave obeys his master. Love freely given will always outweigh love fearfully handed over.
Ultimately, we are all on the road to holiness and are striving for a greater union with God. We are constantly faced with a renewed “yes” to living a life of habitual virtue and pure love. And as Christ reminds us, the more grace we receive and the closer we grow in intimacy with him, the more charity he will require of us. The more we are able to encourage our brothers and sisters on their journey and in their struggles to grow in love. In this way, we are sure to lean more towards a humble disposition on our own journey, and maintain a spirit of gratitude for the work that God has done in our life.
“Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love . . ., see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.”1 Peter 1:22