“We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that He gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)
This truth spoken by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton brings to mind the understanding of grace and the role it plays in our lives. Grace can be thought of as that gift of God which touches us and offers us a path to holiness. We can receive grace in different ways: through the Sacraments of the Church, through our sisters and brothers in Christ, and through the events of our daily life. How we respond to grace is of the utmost importance. Do we use it to draw closer to God?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian, was famous for his comparison of “cheap” grace to “costly” grace. He taught that cheap grace is accepting God’s love and forgiveness without the condition of striving for holiness ourselves; while costly grace means recognizing the sacrifice of Christ and living our lives accordingly, trying our best to follow Him. He wrote: “(Costly grace) comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” (The Cost of Discipleship)
Mother Seton lived her life in accordance with costly grace – she looked for small tokens of God’s love in her day – snippets of grace – and offered them back to God as she strove to do His will. May we recognize the magnitude of grace in our own lives, and never forget that we were “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!