This month’s blog series is “Gathering the Graces”. St. Ignatius invites us to ask God for a grace each time we pray. This month, blog contributors will share stories about the graces God has given them and where God is leading them.
This past week was a reminder of how much I need God’s grace as Louisiana braced for two hurricanes. Thankfully, Marco dissipated before making landfall. Laura hit the Southwestern part of Louisiana very hard. One way God’s grace becomes a reality is when we come together to support our neighbors. I am partnering with several parishes in the Diocese of Baton Rouge to offer support for those impacted by Hurricane Laura. Please visit the Helping Hands for Laura page to learn concrete ways we can help with immediate needs in Louisiana.
Grace plays a key role in our spiritual lives. What the heck is grace, though? I feel it is often a word that is thrown around without a clear understanding of what it means. We even sing amazing grace like we know what it means, but do we understand that grace is the building block of our present lives?
In our spiritual lives, grace is the way God reveals God’s self to us. It allows us to come to new understandings and insights about:
- Holy Spirit
- Our Salvation History
- Our Faith
- Our Sins
- Our Disordered Attachments
- Our Gifts
- Our Call
Grace is a deep infinite well that continues to invite us to explore new depths of our faith. Its existence is what propels us into new horizons in our relationship with God.
Naming the Grace I Seek:
St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace we seek at the start of every prayer time. Naming the grace we seek allows us to get in touch with what God might be offering us to learn more about.
Here is how we can do this at the beginning of each prayer time:
- Place yourself in the presence of God.
- Ask God: What is the grace I seek?
- Notice what word arises within you. It might be something such as rest, peace, clarity, courage, hope, light, love.
- When a word arises in your thoughts, turn this into a prayer. God as I begin, I seek the grace of _____.
Gathering the Graces:
St. Ignatius invites us to look back on our prayer, our week(s) and when we end a retreat to gather the graces God generously poured into us. I often invite people to “gather the graces” by reflecting on these questions:
- What graces did you receive?
- What are you thankful for?
- When did you experience consolation?
- When did you experience desolation?
- What do you now know that you didn’t understand before? (About God, yourself, your call, others, etc.?)
Praying for the Graces to Deepen Within Us:
Once we have named the graces God gave us, it is important to pray for the graces to deepen in us. We want the graces given to us to stay, to become part of who we are, and to transform us.
God’s generosity cannot be outdone. We will continue to receive grace upon grace as God invites us to new depths for the entirety of our lives.
An Invitation: Gather Your Graces
This coming month, the Into the Deep writers gather the graces of their lives. They will share what God is revealing to them.
I invite you to do the same.
As you look back on the past months or weeks, during this unexpected time of our lives, what are the graces you received? What might God be revealing to you in light of what you named?
JOIN ME! Overwhelmed No More: A 6 Week Retreat in Daily Life
This unique online discernment retreat, based on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, provides an individual retreat experience within a virtual community of faith.
We’ll begin this community journey on September 7th and finish on October 16th. The weekly content is self-paced, so you will be able to jump in easily after Labor Day if that works better for you! I hope you will join me!
- Gather the graces of your last months using the “Sense-Making” Prayer Guide created by Becky Eldredge and Stephanie Clouatre Davis
- Book recommendations on Grace from our Into the Deep Writers:
- A New Look at Grace by Bill Heubsch
- Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination by Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP.
- The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen Norris
- Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris
- Circle of Grace by Jan Richardson
- To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue
- Devotions by Mary Oliver
- Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke
- God’s Voice Within by Mark Thibodeaux, S.J.
- Reimagining the Ignatian Examen by Mark Thibodeaux, S.J.
Photo by Artem Kovalev on unsplash.