Lent, Grace, Virtue, and Pelagianism: God's role in making us happy and holy


Back to Tebow, just for a moment. Tebowing on the sidelines and preaching in front of the cameras, some seem to think every ball to leave his hand is divinely guided – nothing short of a miracle.

But is the football really some divine remote-control hovercraft, Tebow really a kind of divine puppet?

It sounds ridiculous, but let’s be honest. The question has gone through our head. But is religion some magic coke machine? We throw in a coin (or sometimes even without the coin), and God makes it happen. Does grace just kind of hijack our life, our world?

On the other hand, I’ve been accused of Pelagianism

Okay, it’s a big word, but it’s simple. It’s the opposite of the Tebow example. We don’t need God at all – we can be holy and happy without his grace if we just try hard enough.

Fortunately 1500 years ago at the Council of Carthage (one like Vatican II, just a long time before), it was solemnly condemned. Without God’s grace it is not merely difficult, but absolutely impossible to perform good works. We can’t do anything good. We can’t be happy. We can’t be holy.

So why did I write those articles? 4 Simple Steps for Silence4 Things for a Good Pilgrimage to Heaven10 Step Holiday Workout: Intense and Full-soul. If it depends on God and notour efforts, we should just sit back and wait for God to make it happen. Infact, should I be waiting for some excommunication notice from the Vatican?

Joking aside, we can do something, even though there’s no magic formula. With silence and prayer, we can prepare for God’s grace. We can work with him by discerning and answering his call in our lives. We can exercise virtue.

Lent provides the perfect opportunity as a time of repentance and conversion – turning back to God and working more closely with him. We have strayed from him in little ways, and he calls us back.

Three simple tips to bettering understanding God’s grace this Lent

1. Presence.

More than a thing, grace is personal – God’s presence. You don’t receive some X-Men superpower. God is present with you and in you.

So first, we have to ask him to stay with us! And on your part, you need to remove obstacles and get yourself in shape to work together.

2. Remove vice.

This is the first step. If you are proud, lazy, or simply attached to yourself, there’s no room for God. What is your biggest difficulty in prayer, loving others, or simply in doing what you know is right? That very well might be what God is asking you to give up.

But remember, it’s something positive to make God more present in your life.

3. Exercise virtue.

Most importantly we are called to be better men, men of virtue. Instead of giving up chocolate or television for Lent (or in addition to these), do something  more– believe more, hope more, love more.

For the time of Lent remaining, I would like to offer you a weekly virtue reflection to make God more present and better cooperate with him.

Please comment and tell me what you think. What virtues interest you?

Copyright 2012 Br. Mark Thelen, L.C.



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