Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Finding Grace

Our Better Selves

Grace: (n; 12c) [ME, fr. OF, fr. L. grātia favor, charm, thanks, fr. grātus pleasing,
grateful; akin to OHG queran, to sigh, Skt grnäti he praises.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1987

“Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
C.S. Lewis [1898–1963], Book III; Chapter 8
(“The Great Sin”) in Mere Christianity (1952)

At one time the wealthy could at least be counted on for good manners; such does not appear to be the case today, especially among the cohort of multi-millionaires and billionaires who make money quickly and easily and as a result think themselves “better than others.” Their world is a competitive one, their ambition fueled by pride. In such a ruthless world, manners, gratefulness and kindness are not important, these being a sign of humility (or “weakness”).

More’s the pity, and society suffers as a result of its lack, even as many others are blithely unaware of its importance. A society in which everyone is competing is a horrible one in which to live. It becomes unbearable. When something is lacking or gone, its absence becomes more pronounced. Such is undoubtedly the case with grace. Where can she be found? Well, an old memory that recently returned to me, tells a story.

Almost 40 years ago, I met a few such old-school, old-money individuals when I was a student working part-time at McGill University; they came from noted English and French families and they were different in a good way, in a way that I found appealing. They were well-mannered and had all the social graces one would expect of such people. I, who came from a working-class background, took note and learned much from them.

I don’t want everything from the good ol’ days, but grace—both social and Christian—would be good in greater abundance. It would be a fine thing and good for society’s individuals to take in. If you accept the position that it is God who has bestowed on you certain gifts or benefits, including monetary, then you are more inclined to view others in a similar manner—with similar grace. In God’s economy no one has merited such gifts; everyone is equally undeserving.

Such a thought goes against the idea that we always must earn it, that it is a result of our own efforts, that only the best and brightest obtain it. Yet, grace contains none of these ideas, and because it is none of these things, we have difficulty accepting it. It is a heavenly gift of love (and acceptance) available to all who seek it. Truth be told, grace confounds the human mind, perhaps because it is a mystery which is wrapped in simplicity and humility.

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