The mysteries in religion are measured by the proud according to their own comprehension, by the humble, according to the power of God; the humble glorify God for them, the proud exalt themselves against them.

John Henry Newman

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A child was born to a mother whose husband abandoned her and the child before the child’s birth.  The child, a boy, had little contact with his father.  Indeed, he saw his father twice: once when the man was dying and once when the boy was but four.

As to the latter instance, the father walked by without so much as stopping and stooping to say “hello.”  The boy remembers receding to his darkened room and crying.

The young boy learned from this that what hurts us is, in the end, biography not fate.

The lad never carried a grievance, never let the desertion cripple him, never sought a substitute, never let this fact hold him back.  He became a good father and a successful and contented man.

How does a young boy suffer such a loss yet walk a constructive path – walk without noticeable limp?

Grace.

Thomas Merton tells us that we cannot will our own emptiness – the state of disgorging ourselves of all that is not God to make of us a temple for God.

Mystery.

Cannot something like this be said of grace?  Can we assume that we will always know the instances in which the grace of God visits us?  What equipped the young boy to the wisdom he possessed at four, as a youngster in a world full of boys with fathers?  Grace.  Grace is the answer.

Grace: a mystery within the mystery of God.

We humans like to domesticate God, to cut God down to our size.  In the foolishness of pride we attempt to reduce God to what we can comprehend.  We do this with grace.

We assume that we will know when the grace of God governs us.  Yet does this explain the young boy’s knowledge and reaction to his father despite the hurt he received?  No.

Grace visits without us knowing it, without us earning it.  Thus, too does God.

If we cannot empty ourselves by ourselves, by our own will, why would we expect to know when grace visits us?

Grace, like God, is mystery.  Mystery engages us without our conscious knowledge of its presence.  The same can be said of grace.  You are, in ways not known to you, always swimming in the grace of God.

Take heart.

Shalom.

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