Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blog # 126 Transformed 2

Blog # 126 Transformed 2 I can easily remember as a boy the Dominican Sisters Regina, George, Margarita, Robert Marie, Polycarp, Pascal and Williametta who staffed our local parochial school regularly keeping before our young Catholic minds the great importance of being and remaining always in the "state of Grace". Somewhere along the line in my further Catholic education the modifying word "Sanctifying" was added to the notion of Grace for me. A good way of getting to know a more complete and accurate meaning of a word is to trace it down to its roots. That process for me with regard to the term "Sanctifying Grace" goes like this: there are three roots, stemming from the Latin, sanctus , meaning holy ; faciens , the present participle of the Latin word facere , meaning making; and the Latin gratia, or gift. We come to the meaning of the term "Sanctifying Grace" as a gift that makes us holy or like to God. Realizing no human word could define or express the infinite nature of God, we are helped in seeking a root for the word 'holy' by the description of the vision of angels in chapter 6 verse 3 of the Prophet Isaiah. Hovering over the throne of God they cried out to one another : Holy holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" Again realizing the inadequacy of any word or sound when it comes to expressing the infinity of God I take the word holy as meaning whatever it is that went into the expression God Himself gave to Moses in order for Moses to tell the Pharaoh who it was who sent him as I AM. (Ex 3: 14). Joining this notion of Sanctifying Grace as the gift that makes us holy or like to God with the notion of being "born from above" in Chapter 3 of St. John and Paul's references to our becoming a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom 6:4), we come upon good insights into our Catholic theology of Baptism and the other Sacraments all of which fall under the definition of "outward signs instituted by Christ to give Grace. To help me clarify the notion and experience of the new life we receive through faith and Baptism I make use of an analogy. It has to do with an automobile. What can we say of an automobile that would demonstrate the new life we receive in Baptism? Try giving it a new paint job and it looks like a new car. That image does not seem strong enough to satisfy the notion of our new life of Baptism. Try giving it a new motor and that may come a bit closer but it is still not forceful enough to satisfy. The notion that came closest for me was to think of commissioning the car as a police car , giving it not just a new look or a new motor but a NEW IDENTITY! The same automobile is now entitled to certain given privileges, and those in charge of it take on certain responsibilities with regard to it. In Baptism we become members of the Church, the Body of Christ, united with Jesus as branches are joined to a vine, sharing the life of the vine. We are entitled to pray and officially worship God in Jesus' Name. Conversely our sins become far more serious as they are identified as accepting an invitation of evil to betray the wisdom goodness and generosity of Jesus that should always live within us, as the Sisters reminded me so many years ago when they kept our attention focused on the notion of "staying in the State of Grace".

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