Friday, February 15, 2008

My Take on Cooperation and the Sacraments

May God be with you!

Earlier this month, I was so privileged to watch and participate with 21 children as we adored our Lord. It made me think about how Christ draws us in to Him. How He wants us with Him. How much He loves us. It made me think of how we are saved and how the Sacraments help us.

We are saved by the Grace of God alone. We are called to respond to that Grace through the gift of Faith and works. We are taught this as Catholics. Faith and works are important. Mary is such a wonderful example of how we should work with Christ; participate with Him. How we unite our will to His Divine Will. But for me, it seems at times I go kicking and screaming my way to Christ because of my own selfish will.

I know what is best but have a hard time doing it. Yet God still works with me, loves me, encourages me; even when I’m thinking I’m just too busy, have to many irons in the fire, can’t possibly take time for prayer etc.! Last Friday, this (God working with me even when I may not be working with Him) was brought to me in such a beautiful way as I prayed the Stations of the Cross; our prayer and meditation on the Passion of Christ.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Mark 15: 21

Christ as BOTH fully God and fully man could have carried His cross; our cross. But He knew that in order to fully appreciate His gift of Salvation, we need to work with Him. So He shows us an example of what He expects of us with Simon (much like me) not always eager to help and impatient to be on my way with so many things to “do”. Yet Simon does help even if at first under protest and Simon is changed forever.

Christ COULD do it all for us. He could drag us kicking and screaming or just whisk us away to what He knows is the best course of action for us. But He knows that for us to finally and totally choose Him and love Him, we must also help Him help us and co-operate in our salvation.

Just like any good parent knows, if you give your child everything, demanding nothing, the child will be spoiled and will not appreciate even the most wonderful of gifts. They (gifts and parents themselves) will be taken for granted and ultimately have no value. BUT, if you the parent love your child and expect your child to help out at home, in the family, at school - do good works, be kind, be obedient; they will appreciate the love of the parents so much more. Less will be asked for and even the smallest gift will be valued.

So God, as the wisest of parents, does for us. His gift is the greatest of all; our home with Him in Heaven. Yet our co-operation helps us to appreciate this gift and enter in with Christ for our salvation.

God, knowing our weak nature, gave us the Catholic Church and gave authority to the Catholic Church to administer the Sacraments to give us Grace, strength, courage, leadership and forgiveness, in helping us to always choose Christ and His Salvation and become reconciled with the Body of Christ when we have turned away. While the Sacraments are not the only way we can co-operate with Christ, He gives us Grace in those Sacraments so that we can grow in spiritual strength to know Him, love Him, and serve Him more throughout our lives, so our whole life may be in closer union with Him

Just as it is important to teach children to appreciate the gifts they have received, as children of God, we need to appreciate the gifts of the Father. The more often we receive the Eucharist and go to Confession, we build a “habit of Grace” and become closer with Christ, with God our Father. These gifts, these Sacraments, through the Grace imparted in them, strengthen our bond with God and help us to co-operate more fully and easily in His plan for us.

So like Simon who “helped” our Lord Jesus on His road to our salvation, so through the Sacraments, we are strengthened to co-operate with Christ.

God bless you!

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