Grace: A Brief Meditation

The definition of Grace is that free and unearned favor endowed by God.

I believe in grace, although I have to admit I hadn’t given it much thought until an event some years ago brought it into perspective for me. 

The occasion was a visit in 2000 to Mother Mary Clare Vincent OSB, the seventy-five-year-old prioress of St. Scholastica Priory in Petersham, Massachusetts. She had known me all my life. 

We were having a quiet tea together, when she suddenly took my hand and, looking into my eyes with her intense and bright black eyes, she said, “Darling, there’s a special place in heaven for you on account of all your generosity.” 

I was taken aback. I had been visiting the priory since 1985 when Mother Mary Clare, with a small group of nuns, had set up the community under the auspices of the Benedictine order. While I was most assuredly not called to be a nun, much less lead a contemplative life, I adored Mother Mary Clare and came to love her band of Sisters. 

We had a symbiotic relationship—I gave them advice on matters of finance and business and provided modest financial support. They, in turn, prayed for me, my intentions, and anyone for whom I asked them to pray. We were indeed family. 

Listening to Mother’s words about my place in heaven, I answered with a chuckle, “Mother Mary Clare, what I do is nothing special. It just comes naturally to me because I love you.” 

“Aha,” she responded before I could speak another word. “Your generosity is a direct response to grace. Believe you me—that’s what is so marvelous about you. You accept grace; you never reject it. For that you will be greatly rewarded, my darling.” 

She had silenced me and I contemplated her words, encouraging words for someone who was far from a model Catholic, much less saintly. A place in heaven, I thought. I hoped it would be close to her. 

I took her reassuring words to heart and have been a believer in grace ever since. Grace received and embraced inspires the heart and soul to respond. How we respond to grace determines how we live our lives. 

The millions of acts of daily human kindness throughout the world are evidence of man’s innate goodness in response to God’s grace and favor. 

I like to think of grace as being granted in a variety of flavors— kindness, joy, patience (sadly that grace totally skipped me by), fortitude, faith, hope, humor, and so many more. 

I feel blessed that the grace of generosity of spirit has imbued much of my life. And I believe that the grace of gratitude is what inspired me to write this memoir.