The grace of God is sufficient unto me! This realisation came to me years ago when I had the grace to grow in my spiritual life, and one of the greatest gifts is to be able to have the time for daily mass and weekly confession. In the beginning, as a neophyte, I was still strutting around like a proud peacock. I had, by the grace of God, been challenged to give up sinful ways. I recall the struggle to part with some secular magazines which I had been feeding on, and which had contributed to my self-centred and materialistic outlook. I was a sucker for branded goods, and it was not wisdom surely for me to spend so much money on myself. Still, I was blind to this and to so many other areas of my life.
Then came the Baptism and the grace to grow, and I thank God for the ministry of intercession. One of the things I had the grace to do was to have my sins purged. I went regularly on Saturdays to make my confession, and this went on for years. It was also due to the fact that I was in a prayer ministry and we were involved in retreats for not only lay people but many priests as well. To cut the story short, I realised for myself that as I drew nearer to our Lord, he also gave me more and more knowledge of my own sinful ways. When I was ready, he would let me understand. My proud prayer to our good Lord had been, ‘See, Lord, I am giving up this and that for you!’
Little did I realise that I was giving up what was bad and what was poisonous, even cancerous. To have persisted in my sinful ways would have been fatal. I would simply die and remain dead in every sense of the word. So, then, the Light of Christ shone upon me. I saw the misery, the poverty, the crippled one in the person of a sinner – me. It was a slow process that took years. Plunged into the deep end, I had to learn to cope. When I felt pushed to a corner, I wanted out. I would have no more to do with the Catholic faith. But our Lord, so merciful, so patient and so understanding, did not give up on me. Through the following words from the Gospel of St Luke, he spoke loudly and clearly to my heart.
“Would-Be Followers of Jesus
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus[a] said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Today, I understand better that the closer I desire to draw to the Lord he too will draw closer to me. He loves me dearly. But light and darkness cannot be one. Sin and holiness will never gel. So as to allow me to draw closer to the Lord, He allows me the grace to co-operate with his grace. The Sacraments of the Church help me in all the ways that make my spiritual growth possible. Yes, God is good, and only by His grace will I be able to enter.
Today I see my own sinfulness. I acknowledge the life I have led. I have confessed all my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and I pray that I will always be able to do so with total honesty. Praise God!
In heaven, the saints rejoice with me. Through their intercession, I too aspire to spend my life after my sojourn on earth with them, to sing forever of the praises of God! To God be the glory now and forever!
This article was written some time ago, and it spans many years – from my Baptism in 1993 to the time I left the retreat ministry some ten years ago. But the journey continues, of course, and as I move along, I can keep singing the praises of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Saviour. The mercy of God! How grateful I am to have been baptised and to be His child. Praise God!