Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism

It can be hard to settle our minds on the idea of “cooperating with grace”.  How would you explain the Catholic doctrine on salvation to others?

It is easier to see in my life where I have in the past "cooperated with grace" than to explain how I might be doing it in the present.  At present, I am keenly aware of all the moments when I am NOT cooperating with grace, by omission, or by poor stewardship of time, or by refusing to do the more because I fear the labor will be more than I can bear.  I can know I cooperated with God's grace for example in Paul's existence, in the days leading up to Faith's birth, in all of my pregnancies. Maybe not immediately, maybe not with even a scintilla of the gentleness of Mary, but I came haltingly, grumbling, grousing, shuffling like a sulky child eventually to do God's will.  Grace is God's work in me to which I respond.  The kid who does what the father asks, even if initially he says no, is doing the Father's will.  I am that kid.  

What struck me in this chapter of Sherry Wendell's Forming Intentional Disciples, is that to be a disciple is to will to follow Christ, to put your hand to the plow and not look back.  You have to will to do the work. It is no longer an organic process you fall into, it is a deliberative choice to be set apart, and to act.  I am immediately struck with "How?" and "Where" and "What?" I don't know what God wants. He hasn't briefed me.  Then I am struck again.  Have I asked?  Am I listening to His answer?  I know I will know if I ask.  Am I afraid to ask? 

Yes.  To ask to be a disciple is to be asked again, "Do you know of the cup that I will drink? Can you drink of it?" and to say "Yes." again.   It is a timorous thing.  And yet, who should not want to ask for that drink? 

So I say yes again and hope God will show me quickly and push me on my way so I don't lose my nerve or look back or try to slip back into hoping the sacraments will complete the work in me that God has planned.  The sacraments can complete the work in me, but only if I will to be the work and the word to others.   I'm reminded of Flannery O'Connor's, "She thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quickly."  Cooperating with grace if one looks at today's readings, often requires the very urgent pulling of angels to prevent the sluggish soul from lingering in complacency or sin. 

So how do you cooperate with Grace? What does that entail? What does it mean and how do you know?  You read/study God's word. You look to integrate what God says in your life and your heart, and you stay close to the sacraments and trust.  You trust in He whom the wind and sea obey, that He will calm the storms in our hearts and even in our lives, that to be a disciple of Jesus, is to trust His friendship, to trust his judgment, to follow obediently even when the waters are rough and the temptation is to say, "Lord save us, we are perishing." 

I joked to my husband that to be a disciple is to be a Flying Walinda of faith.  He pointed out that they sometimes use a safety cable, this is harder and more incredible than walking across Niagara falls or the Grand Canyon, this is walking on water and moving mountains.   One has to follow Jesus to get in the boat to go into deep waters, and one has to really Trust Jesus beyond human comprehension, (grace) to get out of the boat.  

...and I didn't even get to the second question, how would I explain the Catholic doctrine of salvation to others...except I would say...Thank God for His Justice, Thank God for His Mercy.  Whatever He wills, is right even if I cannot see the why.  

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