Grace is a curious thing. The fact that it is being dispensed to us does not always come to our attention. It is however the primary spiritual nourishment available to us and it is one of the primary ways through which the Holy Spirit endeavors to guide us.
At times Grace has a bitter taste and at other times it can taste fresh and appealing. It is always wholesome and it only loses its nutritional value when it is left unconsumed.
In my own experience Grace, when it is dispensed as part of our daily spiritual diet, can often be digested without the realization that it is on the plate to be consumed. This would be my normal experience. The Holy Spirit is simply providing daily nourishment to enable me to cope with the realities of daily life in the Kingdom. Occasionally however, Grace is dispensed to help us deal with a difficult issue that has arisen. This Grace will not go unnoticed because having it on the menu is critical to our spiritual health and it is likely that we have consciously turned to God seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. This is when Grace can leave a bitter taste. The taste is bitter because the Spirit is directing us out of our comfort zone to experience nourishment that can leave us at times gasping.
If you have lived long enough as a Christian you will likely have experienced this level of Grace. While the experience itself may not be pleasant the spiritual progress made can be significant. The Collect for Mass on the 25th of May of this year is instructive and reflects clearly what our disposition needs to be as we call for and experience this type of Grace:
“O God, from whom all good things come, grant that we, who call on you in our need, may at your prompting discern what is right, and by your guidance do it”
That each of us is in need of pruning and shaping as we move along life’s by-ways is beyond dispute. Our Lover-Creator has destined us for eternal life with our Triune God. Our passage here below is simply part of the preparation for that reality. The Spirit relies on our cooperation in the preparation necessary to see us safely to our goal. The preparation can be painful. Jesus has reminded us on many occasions in scripture that part of our duty as his disciple is to carry our cross. We have also been promised however that the cross will never be heavier than we can carry.
All of this leads me to a fresh realization of just how integral the Holy Spirit is to my spiritual health and how critical it is to digest the Grace dispensed to me. It is also a constant reminder that as appealing as this world may appear to be from time to time it is not the goal of my journey.