July 29, 2022

Ken’s 12-Pack / Ken Ogorek

Things most Catholics wish they knew better: What’s so amazing about grace?

Ken Ogorek

Seventh in a yearlong catechetical series

Grace was poorly taught for decades. So now, although we sing about it, do we really grasp the urgency of its presence and power in our life?

Transformers aren’t just toys and movies

Grace is a transformer. Grace changes you.

Catechetical textbooks from the late 1960s through the early 1990s presented an insufficient recognition of the transforming effects of grace—an inadequate understanding of grace in general. Many adult Catholics are familiar with the word “grace,” but lack a sense of urgency about its role in daily life.

Grace is often described as God’s love, then not much more is said about it. But there’s so much more to grace—important details that make it so … amazing!

Grace really does change you

In last month’s installment of “Ken’s 12-Pack,” I emphasized that God always makes the first move. Grace provides a concrete example of this reality.

The preparation of the human person for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. Grace is God’s initiative, changing you in several key ways:

  • You are introduced into the intimacy of trinitarian life. In other words, the love that flows between Father, Son and Holy Spirit becomes real and accessible for you in an entirely new, unique and irreplaceable way.
  • God adopts you as his own child! You can rightfully call him not only Father, but also Dad!
  • You become a participant in God’s life such that your closeness to him—and his to you—can accurately be called a real, intimate, personal relationship.

What about the sacraments?

Each of the seven sacraments has its own special grace—changing you in specific, concrete ways. Let’s take a new look at the sacrament of penance as one of seven potential examples.

Many Catholics think of confession as “that thing I need to do after I sin.” We half-jokingly say, after we do something that could be perceived as sinful, “Oops. I’d better go to confession!”

And while it’s true that the sacrament of penance addresses sins already committed, the special grace of this sacrament can help keep you from falling into grave sin in the first place! This is one reason why frequently celebrating the sacrament of penance (monthly is a good pattern for many folks) is warmly recommended by so many spiritual directors, Church leaders and trusted pastors of souls.

If more adult Catholics took to heart the preventative power of grace experienced via the sacrament of penance, confessions would be more frequent, sin just might decrease and the world would truly be a better place.

Short-changing grace in the catechesis of the 1970s and 1980s

dug us a little hole regarding this aspect of Catholic faith and life; thankfully we can and are digging out of it—in part due to the clarity offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

It’s amazing because it changes you—for the better!

Grace changes you. If you’re a wretch, it can help save you. If you’re lost, it can help you become found. If your spiritual blind spots trick you into feeling like a soul-sick orphan, grace helps you see how loved you are as an adopted child of almighty God.

Let God’s grace transform you. Let his life enfold you. Make the sacraments a priority. You’re guaranteed to find the results … amazing!

(Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis, has lost his six-pack abs. But his 12-part series, whose theme is: Things Most Catholics Wish They Knew Better, will run through December. He can be reached at his archdiocesan e-mail address kogorek@archindy.org or by using the contact information at www.kenogorek.com.)

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