Gary Michuta interviews Bryan Gesinger on his book, Power to Become Children of God: Essays on the Catholic Faith (Amazon):
Conversation with Bryan starts about 14 1/2 minute mark. Check it out!
One of the great challenges our age has revealed is the question of disposition to the grace of the sacraments. The promise of the gospel is nothing less than participation in the divine nature of the Blessed Trinity himself. But the embarrassing spectacle Catholics so often present often strikes those trying to make sense of the gospel as proof that this promise is a lie. The problem is not with the sacraments, but with our failure to be disposed to receive and incarnate the grace.
St. Thomas says that the grace present in the sacraments is like the light and heat of a fire. The grace is always constant and constantly offered by God to us. But our subjective experience and expression of that grace depends on how close we choose to come to the fire. As we see, for instance, with the “thoughts and prayers” baloney offered by Christians as a prophylactic against obeying God, there are many Catholics (I am often one) who say, “Lord, Lord” not as an entry into obedience but as a substitute for it. Jesus warns us that if we persist in that lie, he will tell us “I never knew you.” We can sinfully use the sacraments in the same way: imagining that getting our Eucharist card punched means we can live in a way that is the opposite of Eucharistic. And when we do, people who see us receive the Eucharist often conclude that the Eucharist is a waste of time or, worse, that it is the cause of our sinful lives. When that happens, God’s name is blasphemed because of us.
Mr. Gesinger is absolutely right that God has given us the power to become children of God. Now and then, we meet people called “saints” (some canonized, most not) who have genuinely taken God up on his offer and who live out lives of authentic love as a result. They are intensely magnetic human beings. My prayer is that in coming years, the humiliating spectacle so many of us Christians present to the world will be overcome by a conversion that again sees that orthodoxy and orthopraxy (that is, love and grace received and love and grace expressed) must become one. At present, so much of the Church’s witness is ruined, not by persecution, but by seduction. We demand grace and give none and we chase idols while we do it. As St. John Chrysostom says, if we will not see Christ in the beggar at the Church door, we shall not find him in the chalice.
Let us take up the offer to really become children of God and extend that grace to others–especially the least of these.