“Hail – Full of Grace” was the message of the angel.
When writing about her mystical visions, St. Catherine Labore referred to “Our Lady of Grace” within the context of the vision she had of Mary, who wished that a medal with Mary’s image be minted and distributed. The medal became incredibly popular all throughout Europe. Numerous miracles were attributed to wearing the medal so that, more by the people’s appellation, the medal eventually became known as “The Miraculous Medal.”
St. Catherine also once saw a vision holding out her arms with spread fingers. Rings were seen on the fingers of Mary’s hands. From some of the rings, rays were seen streaming out, but not from others. When St. Catherine inquired Mary said, “The rays are graces from God.. The reason rays are not seen from some rings is that God cannot bestow graces upon people who don’t desire, nor ask for, them.”
- Intimate knowledge. Insight, understanding and that knowledge (in the so-called “biblical sense”) which will be about intimacy with God.
- Many gifts. The presence of mind to count the ways God has loved you and the many gifts of God’s love, which God have given to you. We so often look at our shortcomings, let us see the gifts – all of them that God has provided.
- Filled with gratitude. Ignatius prayed, “Fill me, Lord, with gratitude. Let my heart, sometimes filled with so much else, be filled with thanksgiving. Give me the feelings of gratitude, of a grateful heart. Give me joy, freedom, peace and generosity.”
- Moved to serve. Overflowing gratitude in the heart touches all the things and people in our lives. It touches thought, word and deed; every hurt, every slight, every loss; every reaction and response; every opportunity and choice. To receive the grace to want to love and serve God is a great grace.
- Know Where You are in Your Faith. Do you need God’s grace? Where are you in your Christian walk? The first thing to do when you want to ask for God’s grace is to take a quick assessment of your faith. Looking at how well you’ve been following His Word and living in faith can help you identify the specific areas where you really need God’s grace.
- Figure Out Why the Grace is Needed. We have to look at ourselves honestly and with open eyes to identify where we need God the most.
- Be Open to Gods Grace. We need to allow people to come into our lives to provide for us. When we accept what God is trying to do, we make it easier for God to do His work in our lives.
- Stop and Pray. We develop a closer relationship with God through prayer. We become closer to Him and grow in our understanding of His will and His desires.
- Have the Right Expectations. We have to temper our expectations of God. Often we have expectations of grandiose miracles, when sometimes all we need are little ones. We get so caught up in the “Big Idea” that we miss what’s really happening in small, quiet ways, around us. We cannot dictate how God acts in our lives, but instead we need to be open to anything. God will act in His way, in His time. We need to open up our spirit to Him.
St. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9 writes, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Grace is not about strength or power. It is about weakness and humility – like a small baby – in swaddling clothes – sleeping in a manger.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Audio version of the homily can be found here: