I knew a guy one time who loved to order stuff online. It wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for him to receive several packages in one day. The trouble was that he was out of town a lot for work so the boxes and envelopes would pile up outside his door. You always knew when he had come back from a business trip because the three deep pile on the porch suddenly disappeared overnight. Then you knew when he was out of town again when the packages started clogging the walk like a Big Mac lover’s left ventricle. I don’t know how he even had time to use all the things he got because he wasn’t around much.
Sometimes I think we treat our spiritual lives like that guy and his packages. We come to the Sacraments and receive the grace, but it sort of sits outside on our doorstep until we are finally “home” in our connection to the Lord. Anyone who was Confirmed as a teen because that’s what their Mom wanted them to do, but who didn’t really practice their faith until they had kids, knows exactly what I’m talking about. You see, Sacraments always give grace regardless of our disposition. Jesus is present in the Eucharist just as much for a believer as for an unbeliever. Disposition DOES however dictate the effect the grace has on us.
If one is open to the grace and participates with it truly life changing things can happen. However, if one is closed off to the movements of the Spirit the grace is often left outside waiting until you “get home,” so to speak. I have, to some parents’ chagrin, always been opposed to making people receive Sacraments against their will. I have seen amazing things happen when people skipped Confirmation or First Communion as kids and came back later in life to receive them. The fact they waited until they truly felt God was calling to that allowed the grace to really permeate their souls.
This line of thought is also applicable to the average Catholic sitting in the pews on a weekly basis. Many of us have had the experience of engaging in a Bible study or catechesis session only to find that suddenly the faith is coming alive in a whole new way. That’s one of the best parts of our faith, you can dig as deep as you want and you’ll never run out of ways to experience the Lord anew each day. So dig deep, try hard, give all you got, because the more you put in the more you’ll get out of it.
Prayers Always, Fr. Joseph Altenhofen