by Clemens Pater
In doing the work of God; in carrying out our responsibilities as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father, the secret ingredient is love: love for God, love for others. It is the “thing” that can make the difference: like a pinch of salt; like a spoon of sugar; like a small measure of yeast. Love softens and changes things that seem solidified and impenetrable – that don’t appear to be changeable. Love notices things that others may never see. Love sees something in the eyes; it hears something in the voice, and love doesn’t fail to respond in support and kindness.
St Paul tells us that “There abide these three: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. (I Cor 13:13) St Thomas Aquinas teaches that charity is the formal cause of all the virtues. That is, charity must be the motivation and driving force behind all our virtuous efforts. So also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by Charity. .. It is the form of the virtues.” (CCC no. 1826)
Are we spiritual people? Then we are capable of realizing how God can silently and invisibly renew us and transform us and others with His grace. We inevitably have weaknesses and bad habits that discourage us. There are, similarly, negative qualities in others with whom we live and work. Perhaps these shortcomings or sins annoy us or present obstacles to our peace in mind and heart. How can we possibly change these things in us or in others? By doing what we do with love.
Are we spiritual people? Then, we must trust that God can and will use our offerings of little bits of love. They become His ingredients for accomplishing great things. St Therese of Lisieux says, “To pick up a pin from the floor can save a soul.” When we are in the state of Sanctifying Grace, God can use everything we do – carried out from a motive of love for God – to save souls: ours and others. Acts of love become supernatural weapons in His hands. St Therese, a Doctor of the Church, says “I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act.” (from the Autobiography, quoted in CCC, no 826)
Believe that you are God’s co-worker in the battle for salvation. Others may not see or realize what we do for love of them. God does. Acts done in love glorify Him, and they become acts of the Church, acts of Christ.
And our sins? - even our secret sins? I am sorry to say that they can confound God’s life and work in us, and for others. They stall or obstruct the progress of Grace. As spiritual people, as faithful souls aware of the meaning of God’s grace, we know that these hurtful acts or habits – even when they are unseen by anyone – thwart the forward movement toward Christ’s Kingdom.
Our sins don’t have to be the final word. Christ already won the victory over sin once for all. We must join ourselves again to Him and His power. Our conversion, utilizing the Sacrament of Confession, making acts of contrition, acts of reparation, can correct and restore our direction toward Him who is the Way, Truth and Life. With His grace He may even choose to catapult us over some of the usual blockades, and hurry us toward heaven. He will help us walk slowly but surely on a path to Life.
Acts of charity, and intentions of charity, while doing the most mundane tasks; kindness and gentleness toward those whom we find difficult; enduring injustice patiently: these are golden keys that unlock doors that may otherwise seem without access. We know this and believe, because we are people who profess a supernatural dimension to our lives. This spiritual level is real. It is an extraordinary and powerful realm constantly made new and alive in God. This love of God, and love of neighbor for God’s sake, is the secret ingredient.
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Our Blessed Mother was called “Full of Grace.” All her daily actions were sanctified. She never ceased to live and act with the God’s life and love. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
From St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Discourse VIII, on the Assumption of Mary:
“It is certain, as the holy Council of Trent has defined, that Mary never committed any sin, not even the least; not only she has never lost divine grace, never bedimmed it, but she has never kept it unemployed; she never did an action that was not meritorious; she never said a word, or had a thought, or drew a breath, that was not directed to the greatest glory of God; in a word, she never relaxed or stopped one moment in her onward course to God; she never lost anything through negligence, for she always corresponded with grace with all her power, and loved God as much as she could love him. ‘Oh Lord,’ she now says to him in heaven, ‘if I have not loved thee as much as thou dost merit, at least I have loved thee as much as I could.’”