At the Cathedral of St. Helena we had a four day Lenten Mission this week facilitated by Dominican Father Serge Propst,
O.P. He celebrated Mass at noon each day and his teaching began at 1 pm and then he repeated his teaching in the evening at 7 pm. I am so grateful that there were two sessions offered each day so that those who worked could also attend the mission.
His message was a simple one but a profound one. He talked about how much God the Father loves us and just the way he said it and had us repeat it, I felt just a little more closer to God the Father. He offered
confession after each session. He called confession, the “polishing of halos.” Father encouraged us to go to confession often in order to grow in your faith.
He talked a lot about actual grace and sanctifying grace. He shared that sanctifying grace is a call to good and is permanent. Actual grace is temporary and needs are cooperation in order to grow in our faith. He stated that for many of
us, we are still stuck in the baptismal font of our faith and have refused to grow and mature. In other words we are still babies in our faith lacking maturity. Instead of acting upon the actual graces given to us we stumble around in our lives, trying this
and trying that. He went on to say that God will give us every grace to grow but He needs our cooperation.
God supplies 99.999% percent
of the effort for us to grow and we supply 1%. To cooperate with actual grace, is a decision. For example I can decide to be patient in traffic or I can decide to smile at the clerk at the grocery store whom appears to be really having a bad day. I can decide
to hold my tongue and not spill out that sarcastic remark towards my husband. If I find myself losing my temper, he suggested go to the bathroom, close the door and take a time out to cool down. It probably is the only place in our home that we can be alone.
He stated that we cannot grow in holiness by ourselves so take God's hand and hang on for dear life. I always picture Jesus as my anchor
when the storms of life toss me here and there. I imagine myself hanging on to Jesus my anchor, while the storm is raging. As long as I hang on to Jesus, I am safe in the midst of the storm.
He talked about the importance of forgiving others whom have hurt us and looking into our hearts for those we still hold bitterness and grudges. He challenged us
to make a list of people we need to forgive and begin the process of forgiving them. Bitterness and grudges do not hurt the other person, it hurts us and stops us from growing closer to Jesus Christ. I know in my
own life that is so true. When I forgive from my heart, I am the one set free to grow and to love. Forgiving is an on-going process and will continue until we take our last breath.
I am going to to to take to heart his words: “Just don't be Catholic but choose to be Catholic. Choose to be holy and take personal responsibility for growing in your faith.” Just for today I am “choosing
to be Catholic” with the help of God's grace.
Father Propst left us many things to reflect on and
to put into practice. As I continue on my Lenten journey, I am pondering and reflecting on the ways that I can cooperate a little more with the actual graces that God gives me daily.