The State of Grace

1st Sunday of Advent
Beloved in the Lord Jesus.
The planet Venus is called the ‘sister planet’ of earth. This is because like earth, it is a rocky, solid body; its diameter is nearly the same as our planet, and it has the same gravity and Mass as earth. Now if engineers were to build a spaceship designed to make the journey to the planet Venus, so that ordinary citizens could go to live there, well – I don’t think there would be any takers. You see, the surface temperature of Venus is 860 degrees F, the atmospheric pressure is 92 times that of earth; its clouds are made of sulfuric acid, and instead of oxygen, you would have to breathe carbon dioxide. We would no doubt refuse this invitation, because our body and our lungs are designed for this world. In our atmosphere, they work, but there, they would not work.
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Now in the same way, our human nature, while adequate for the ordinary life of this world, is not adequate for the life of the world to come: the New Creation that we call heaven. If we were to enter heaven with only our human nature as is, we would be no more able to survive there, than on the planet Venus. Just as we would need some extra power of breathing to survive on another planet, so we need an extra power in our soul, in order to live in heaven. What is this power, and how do we get it?
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The power that we will need, so that we can live in heaven, is a power ‘above and beyond our nature’ – ‘super- nature’, it is ‘supernatural,’ and so we call it the Supernatural Life. Now this is true not only of human beings, but of angels as well; no created being by its own nature, is able to have a relationship or union with God without a supernatural elevation of nature; somehow, we have to be made ‘like God,’ so that we can relate to him, and this is the supernatural life, which is in us as Sanctifying Grace. This is what we mean when we say that we wish to be in the ‘State of Grace.”I hope that I am in the State of Grace.’
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This supernatural life, is first of all, a gift of God; it comes first to us in baptism. And this is why Jesus Christ came into the world, to impart to us, supernatural life – to give us a share in his divine life. St. Paul encourages us today: Cast off deeds of darkness, he says, and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
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This ‘armor of light’ of which he speaks, is grace. ‘Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ,’ is to walk in this life of God. But we must protect and nurture this Divine Life, as a soldier uses armor for protection. In our baptism we receive the seed of this supernatural life – we become ‘in the State of Grace.’ The Christian life then, is about protecting and growing this grace in us. Our life will be a success, if at the moment of death we have in our soul, this Supernatural life, if we are in the State of Grace; this will make union with God not only possible, but beautiful. On the other hand, our life will be a failure if we die without the supernatural life. Everyone who is in hell is there because they were not in the State of Grace when they died.
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Our Lord reminds us today of the End Times, the final and the 2nd Coming. Jesus is speaking about the Elect – the Redeemed – when he says, on that day, lift up your head and rejoice, for your redemption is at hand. The Elect are those to be found in the State of Grace. If we commit a mortal sin, a serious sin, then we lose this necessary supernatural life in our soul; but we can recover it, by being sorry – turning back to God, going to confession. We must never remain long without the State of Grace, but return to God, and begin again, immediately.
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The State of Grace is lost by grave sins such as skipping Sunday Mass, serious theft or lies; sins against purity, cruelty, lack of charity, and other things. Losing God’s grace causes us to be empty. It is told in the Gospel of St. Luke, that when Jesus was a child and his parents were traveling from Jerusalem, he became lost. There can be no sadness like that experienced by Mary and Joseph, the feeling of losing Jesus. St. Alphonsus tells us to learn two lessons from this event: one is, that we should never be among those who through our own fault of sin, lose Jesus from our soul. The other lesson is: that if we have lost the Lord due to sin, we should know that God easily makes himself found by those who seek him.
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Whether it is to be restored to the State of Grace after serious sin, or to receive more grace by confessing venial sins, which are a daily struggle – which we all struggle with – well, as we begin Advent today, this can be a beautiful time of grace for our parish and our families.
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What present does Jesus want for his birthday? He wants us to prepare our soul for him, for his Nativity. God’s Divinity stoops down to us in the form of a baby, so that our humanity might acquire the supernatural life, and live forever with Him in heaven.
May the Blessed Virgin be near us, and dear to us, in these holy days leading up, to the birth of Christ our Savior.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of dear Audrey Santo]

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