Friday, February 23, 2007

"Led by the Spirit"

Tonight, SAA Church, all are invited for the following:
1) Stations of the Cross – 7:00
2) Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – 7:30-8:30
The following are recent questions from anonymous bloggers. They are related to prior posts but also to this Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus is tempted in the desert by the devil.

“How does one obtain grace?”

“This question relates to a prior discussion about the work of the devil in our lives. I know that overcoming the devil's power for humans can be a huge, lifelong challenge. But surely God has the power to beat him. There are people who are kept down by the kinds of things you have referred to before -- alcoholism and other addictions, mental illness, horrible outlooks -- things that keep them away from God and that they just can't rise above on their own. If it's the work of the devil, isn't God's help needed to win?”

There are many ways in which one obtains grace as there are many types of grace (sanctifying, natural, actual, etc.). Maybe I can give a fuller treatment of grace in the future on this site, but for now, let’s focus on the grace that leads to eternal life: Sanctifying Grace. The primary way to receive Sanctifying Grace is through the sacraments as we’ve said here many times before. We first receive this type of grace at Baptism; we receive the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit within us. The grace of Baptism leads one to receive the grace of the Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, etc. In other words, it leads one to the fullness of God’s Grace (divine life within us).

A life of grace is a life led by the Spirit. Jesus, a divine person with two natures (human and divine), lived a life led by the Spirit. We will hear in this Sunday’s Gospel that the Spirit led him into the desert. It was here that Jesus, in his human nature, was tempted by the devil three times. Because he was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Lk 4:1) which had just descended upon him at his baptism, Jesus was equipped to resist the temptations of the devil. If we live a life of grace, we will have the power to resist the devil, turn away from sin, and turn to God who is the source of happiness.

God’s help is most definitely needed to win in the battle against the devil and temptation. We are no match for the devil; we can’t beat him and his legion of demons on our own. Anyone who has ever tried to resist his temptations on their own knows that. We need to call on God – “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” – and implore his help. He has many tools and weapons for us to wage the battle; his greatest ones are the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Penance.

To every blogger: I would strongly recommend to avail yourself to God’s Grace this Lent. As I said, there are many ways to obtain different graces (through penances, e.g.), but I am referring to the sacraments – most signicantly, the Eucharist and Confession. Especially if we find ourselves in the midst of temptation, grace is the answer. The grace of these two sacraments is so powerful – and the devil knows this, that’s why he works so hard to keep people away from them – that the devil, ultimately, is no match for them.

Even if we aren’t in the midst of such a struggle, we should enter more deeply in a life of grace. When we do that, we go more deeply into a life of happiness, joy, peace, and mercy. When one obtains grace, he/she obtains eternal life.

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