If the only Catholic Doctrine question for my students was, “What is Ms. Ciancibello’s favorite word?”, than the majority of my students would get an A+ in their religion class. As I teach a variety of ages, 3-8th grade Catholic Doctrine, I am confident that my 8 year old students to my 13 year old students know my favorite vocabulary word. We pass through this word in all the grade’s textbooks. This word is used in cliche quotes on Pinterest, on pillows at Homegoods, and can even be taken as someone’s first name. We see this word in today’s Word, in the Scripture readings. St. Paul mentions this word as he states to the Ephesians that we have received redemption by his blood, forgiveness of sins, “in accordance with the riches of his grace he lavished upon us.” If you haven’t caught it already… My favorite word is “grace”.
Defining the word “grace” is simply the gift God gives to us of His life and love. When we receive grace we are receiving God’s very own presence of His life and love. It is through grace that we partake in the life and love of the Trinity! Grace is a pretty big deal and something our hearts should be craving more and more of. St. Paul articulates to us that God desires to pour out his grace upon us. He wants to lavish us in the riches of His grace. It is by grace that we can receive redemption through Jesus Christ. It is by grace that we can become a new creation in the forgiveness of our sins and live a life of holiness. It is by grace that we can live without blemish- without sin. Grace helps us to live out our purpose! This gift helps us to love Him and serve Him as we are called to do.
As I’ve gotten older and experienced more and more, I’ve learned what a gift truly is. When I was a child I would honestly expect my parents to give me a birthday present. Gifts were something that were normally given on special occasions. I did not realize until I matured that no one is due a gift or entitled to anything! The biggest example of this in my own life was the moment my boyfriend (now fiance) got down on one knee. The biggest gift of my life was symbolized in a ring, but was mainly the question of “Will you marry me?”. An absolute gift. Something I will never deserve, someone I will never be entitled to. A complete selfless gift that was given to me.
In the current preparation of discerning engagement to being engaged, I have learned much. I have cultivated deeply in my heart the understanding of a gift, and therefore a new understanding of grace. God freely gives us grace as a GIFT. We do not deserve it. We are not entitled to receive it. He just selflessly gives it to us and proposes it to us throughout our lives. He proposes this gift of His life and His love because He simply desires to love us and to be with us forever.
It’s simple and beautiful. His grace is constantly offered, constantly tangible, constantly a sacrificial gift. Let’s open our hearts to say “YES” to this gift of grace today.
Briana is a Catholic Doctrine teacher at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel school in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese