Mar 11, 2019 918 Sue Martin

Amazing Grace!

Count Your Blessings and Be Surprised by What the Lord Has done!

As a teenager I read the autobiography “The Story of a Soul” by Saint Therese of Lisieux and was puzzled by her words. In the confidence of my youth, I did not exactly understand what she meant.

At our fortieth wedding anniversary, the meaning of those words finally dawned on me. Our four children and their respective spouses, together with our twelve grandchildren, threw us a surprise party. They invited family and friends from all over the country. A surprise it certainly was to say the least. We were put on the spot, having to give an unprepared, impromptu speech to a hall full of people gathered to celebrate with us.

As we looked back over our married life, we were amazed at the blessings we had received. These were completely undeserved graces on our part. We were conscious that there were friends and relatives present, better people than us, who had not received as many blessings as we had. I felt completely overwhelmed at the realization and began to wonder why so many wonderful blessings came to us and not to them.

All we understood was that we did not deserve these graces. We had made so many mistakes and wrong decisions. Most of the time we felt at a loss as we stumbled through life, a bit bewildered and often feeling pretty incompetent as we prayed our way from day to day through each crisis that came along.

I realized the prayers we prayed were the key. Many years ago, I participated in a directed, silent retreat with an old Jesuit priest. He taught me the Ignatian principle of requesting a specific spiritual grace with every daily meditation. We started off well enough early in our marriage, doing this together, but after a while asking for a deep spiritual insight eventually gave way to prayers such as “Please help the baby sleep” or “Please get us over this sickness quickly.” We even resorted to prayers such as “Please provide the money for this dentist bill or the school fees soon.” Often, the scripture meditation was the first thing to go, depending on the level of tiredness or the degree of conflict on the day.

Years later while doing a Cana couples’ session with the French community Chemin Neuf, we were asked to do the long-forgotten scripture meditations in the Ignatian way, hearing it explained again to ask for a specific grace each day.

We realized it was such a great blessing to have found the key to receiving God’s unreserved and bountiful graces—we just needed to ask, and continue asking, for them. Sometimes you even get graces that you have not asked for. Looking back, we saw that over the years every little prayer we prayed for, especially for our children, was answered, often extravagantly and in ways we could never have dreamed.

Our prayers were answered though not always in the way we wanted them to be. There are still some graces we are asking for that have not come through yet, but we are sure they will eventually be answered by our God, who is always a loving and merciful Father.

We have also learned over the years to ask for particular graces not only for our own family and friends but also for others when we see their need. It does not really matter who asks for the grace and how often; if someone is heading in the wrong direction, or in the midst of a crisis, he often does not think to simply ask for the grace for himself. This is part of the privilege of being the body of Christ. If one part is in need then we all are in need. We have also learned over the years to not just ask for one grace daily but for as many as possible, for as many people as possible, because the needs in our world are just so great.

Thank you, Saint Therese and Saint Ignatius, for teaching us to ask daily for grace because, as you said so many years ago, “Everything is grace.”

Sue Martin

©Sue Martin © lives with her family in Australia.


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