Recently a DM reader asked me to write on grace.  I am happy to oblige. 

Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five speaks to the working of grace in his journey from wrongful arrest and imprisonment to election to the New York City Council. CBS Mornings

A number of years ago I was leading a workshop on the Cosmic Christ at a large conference in New York City.  Following the workshop, a group of five Jewish women came up to me and said, “We have asked our rabbi what grace means, and were unsatisfied with his answer.  How do you define grace?”  I replied, “Unconditional love, the flow of unconditional love.”  With that they all smiled, thanked me, and walked away.

Grace is a blessing, a gift.  The word “grace” is related to the word “thanks,” gratia, gratitude, graciousness and gratis.  Aquinas says, “Divine help is accorded gratis to human beings and as a result it quite fittingly took the name grace.”

A journey through the Namib desert in the rainy season, witnessing its transformation from dry to green. Goldschakal Studio

Last night there was a huge and pounding rainfall where I live, weathermen call it “a river of rain”.  And it was.  And a blessing since the West is always needing rain these days.  I recognized grace in that river of rain.  Grace is like a gratuitous pounding of water and rain to the parched. 

Grace glistens. Like doxa or glory.  Grace is bigger than us—like rain is.  It comes from another hand and another place.  We do not make it or manufacture it, it is not rationed or in short supply.  Grace is abundant.  It refreshes.  It blesses.

Bad theologies have put a wedge between nature and grace but a mystic like Meister Eckhart recognizes that “nature is grace.”  Humans can be instruments of grace to one another and to future generations. 

“Though the night is cold and dark, In our soul, there lies a spark.” Noah Aronson and the BANOT Band sing prayers for the dawning of the light of hope at Solstice.

I prayed last night that rain would drench the souls of ALL human beings at this perilous time in history when we must all wake up and grow up and out of our adolescent state as a species.  

Wake up to the common good, to the survival of the planet, to the crisis we are all sharing in, to the possibility of a future.  Wake up to our capacity for compassion, justice, forgiveness, for creativity and moving on.  That would be a grace for sure. 

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 156f., 277, 293, 308, 362, 379f., 443.

And Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 30-34, 40-45, 71-79, 91-94, 1-2-113, 576, etc.

Banner Image: “Rain Dance.” Photo by Alex Cheek on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

What is your experience and understanding of grace?  Do you recognize humans as being a grace to one another?  Do you recognize creation as grace?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart

Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.”  — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.  

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5 thoughts on “On Grace”

  1. Avatar

    Grace is in each if us and in the creation and cosmos that God has provided to support our graceful journeys. It has taken a life time for me to understand that grace is free and freely given. I was taught as a child that grace had to be merited. True spiritual freedom has been in the recognistion that I can be transformed by just accepting the power that grace does for me and for those around me.

  2. Avatar

    May you have a day of grace, Matt, on this Solstice birthday. Thank you for the many years of teaching you have offered me. I love you still and more. Kay Kosinski-Duren

    1. Avatar
      Brigid Cannon, OP

      Yes, Kay, I reaffirm your prayer of Thanksgiving to Matthew. I am a Dominican Sister and I made a program in CA with Matthew on his book “Original Blessing” and it touched my life deeply and used it often in my Retreat Ministry. Matthew even took time to writing in a book of his that I purchased “to my Greening Power”.
      I, too, pray for and with Matthew in gratitude for speaking the Truth in Love.
      Blessings to you Kay and to Matthew!
      Love, peace and joy,
      Sr. Brigid Cannon, OP

  3. Avatar

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you DM Team for the beautiful videos today and every day!
    Grace for me is Faith in the Divine Flow of LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS in our hearts/Souls and among Us with-in All Ongoing CO- CREATION in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  4. Avatar

    As an “accidental” mystic, I’m just an adopted child of Lady Grace, daughter of Spirit.

    Mystics are, almost by definition, supposed to be granted visions and beatitudes only after undergoing long, arduous purifications and the proper study of “correct” doctrine. That’s their unwritten, implied value: mystical Revelation is expected to be a reliable measurement of, and guarantee for, a mystic’s holiness and their utmost obedience (to both church and God), and doctrinal conformity.

    In other words, mystics must work hard to “earn” their visions.
    Also implied: God gives mystical Revelations to those (saints) who “deserved them.”

    But this mysticism — the official, Biblical theology (“Neoplatonic”– such an awkward name for a universal theological mysticism!) is NOT about expecting or deserving mystical doggie treats for sanctity or effort. As Jesus and Eckhart taught, those are pure gifts. Instead, it’s a voluntary spiritual commitment to honoring The One/God by focusing one’s entire life on a more selfless Path of transformation, becoming a more loving, humble, grateful, fully-embodied human-within-Creation, thereby choosing to live within the Christ/Logos exemplar’s mutual living/loving/creating flow.

    The Mystical Revelation is the all-encompassing, radically unitive grace-GIFT of flowing/transforming, carried in Spirit, into higher harmony/synchrony with the One-God/Christ-Logos.

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