Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 7, 2003
Search for God's gift of grace
RCIA catechists must undergo a conversion to Jesus -- Wiesner
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
In ordinary speech, grace means charm or appeal. In Christian belief, grace is a spiritual gift that suggests God's goodness and God's generosity. "It signifies Christ's life in us," Prince George Bishop Gerald Wiesner said March 29. "It's a question of a relationship with God."
Wiesner led an Easter retreat for about 70 RCIA catechists at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. He focused on grace, saying, "Grace is not a free ticket to heaven. It's the life and holiness of God given to us through the Holy Spirit."
Wiesner said talking about grace brings to mind that passage where Jesus Christ told his disciples, "I do not call you servants any longer because a servant does not know what the master is doing. I call you friends."
"That's grace," the bishop said. "God is calling us friends, God takes the initiative."
Grace is the most perfect gift we can have. "God loved the world so much that God gave his only Son. That's grace," Wiesner said.
"Grace is our sharing in the salvation, the redemption of humankind. Grace is a new relationship with God. When we are in a state of grace, we are in a relationship (with God)."
Wiesner said it's important to realize that grace is a gift freely given us by the Spirit of God. "We cannot earn the relationship; we cannot deserve the relationship because we have absolutely no right to it. It's beyond us."
God, however, does not leave people to themselves, the bishop reminded his audience. "What is so beautiful in all of this is we know God searches us out, God hunts us down, God chases us. God comes to us on God's own initiative."
But grace is not just an individual relationship between God and us. "It's a relationship that's offered to us through the situations and circumstances of ordinary, everyday life," Weisner said. "Grace is offered to us through other human beings. Grace is offered to us through and in the community of those who believe in Christ, which we call the Church."
Those who consciously live the life of Christ have a different scale of values, whereby success is more important than money, according to the bishop. "Living in grace rules out serious and deliberate sinning," he stressed. "Sinful behaviour is incompatible with a life of grace."
Wiesner also spoke briefly on conversion, saying those who become Catholics through the RCIA process must undergo an intellectual, moral and religious conversion. "There has to be a conversion to Jesus," he said.
The bishop also urged the catechists to think of themselves as friends of Jesus Christ, reminding them that good friends spend time with each other and love each other.