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‘Grow in Grace’. Is this simple, straightforward gardening?

I have just read a book called ‘What’s so amazing about Grace?’  I was disappointed to say the least. I am no more literate in my understanding of  Grace than I was before I started reading this book and in fact I disagreed with the author within the first few chapters of the book so much so that I started speed reading through the rest of the book.

Perhaps my perspective on Grace remains infantile but I realise that it’s an area of my Journey with the Lord that I need to investigate further, pray about and unwrap. I then came across the poster telling me to ‘grow in grace’…???

As I understand it, I receive Grace ( a sanctifying/Holy spiritual gift from God) through the Sacraments of the Church, namely Baptism, Reconciliation , Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Sick. Through these Sacraments, my eyes and ears are opened to God’s messages and communication with me through His Living Word, the people around me and through prayer and fasting. Through this precious gift of Grace my soul is open to receive and understand Revelation. I realise that I have to be ‘in tune’ with the Lord in order to recognise this precious gift of Grace thorough the Sacraments.

Some questions about Grace I need to investigate further: (lots of reading to be done!!)

  1. Is Grace something I just get because I say I am Christian?
  2. Is Grace different from a Blessing
  3. Is Grace free to us because Jesus died on the Cross?
  4. Do I need the Sacraments of the Church to receive Grace?
  5. What does a Blessing bestow as opposed to Grace?

Confession 3. When last have you taken the time to apologise?

Within the Sacrament of Reconciliation there are three rites of Reconciliation which all play a role in completing the process of Reconciliation. These rites are ordered the first rite, the second rite and the third rite of Reconciliation. The first rite of Reconciliation is Individual confession, the second rite is a communal celebration and the third rite is general absolution in a communal Rite of Reconciliation.

 The First Rite of Reconciliation (Individual Confession):
In this century, we as Christians complete this first Rite of Reconciliation most commonly than any other rite. Many churches today have a Reconciliation Room, where a penitent and a priest  are seated and the penitent begins confessing their sins. This is completed in a special process with four key elements. These elements are confession, act of contrition, absolution and penance. In this process the penitent begins confessing their sins, and acknowledging what they have done wrong and wanting to turn back to God. After they say a prayer of contrition which shows acknowledge of their sins the priest then absolves them from their sins. After this is completed the priest then gives the penitent penance which is a prayer or prayers that they have to say in order for their sins to be forgiven. This is the first rite of Reconciliation called individual confession. This is the rite which is now commonly used in the church and is most preferred.
 The Second Rite of Reconciliation(Communal Celebration):
Many churches provide opportunities for people to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a part of a communal celebration, rather than individually (the first Rite of Reconciliation). If there are communal celebrations, then they are usually held in Lent or Advent as these are the penitential season of the Church year. The celebration begins with a hymn, and a greeting by priest, immediately followed by a prayer expressing forgiveness . There are scripture readings from the Old testament as well as Gospels. After a brief homily and personal reflection time, each person then begins to confess to a priest individually and receives absolution. In this process there is more than one priest going around the church and they all use the same procedure as the First Rite (confession, act of contrition, absolution and penance). After the prayers of penance have been said the priest then says a blessing over the congregation and ends with “Go in peace”. This rite is still practiced although not as commonly as the first Rite of Reconciliation.
 The Third Rite of Reconciliation (General Absolution in a Communal Rite of Reconciliation):
This Rite of Reconciliation is only used in some circumstances where there is no opportunity for individual confession such as in war or national emergency’s. This Rite, in some ways  is similar to the second Rite, sometimes with hymns, scripture readings and a homily. However in this Rite individuals do not get to go up and speak to the priest individually. Instead of this procedure, the priest gives a general absolution of sins after the community have reflected on their sins, privately and have said a prayer acknowledging their repentance. The people who attend this Rite are expected to have a genuine sorrow for their sins and must want to live a better life in the future. If any penitent needs to confess a very serious sin, then they will be asked to confess it individually.
These are all the Three Rites of Reconciliation (individual confession, communal celebration and general absolution in a communal Rite of Reconciliation) which all portray different ways in which people confess sins and are able to confess sins, not always particularly individually.

Read more here.

Spiritual growth and maturity within Marriage.

Equipes Notre-Dame (Teams of Our Lady)

The Holy Family Icon

Some time ago, we were looking for a prayer group as a couple, and after browsing the myriad of leaflets on the boards at church I found an interesting flyer about a group called TEAMS.  It sounded just right and so we made contact with the secretary and were then invited to join a local group. From the moment we sat down, we just knew that this was the right group for us. We seemed to fit into the group just as the  next piece of a jigsaw would fit into the puzzle.

I include the introductory information about TEAMS, that can be found on the British website: http://www.teamsgb.org.uk/ (do follow the link to gain more insight into how TEAMS operates.)

Teams is for Christian married couples who wish to assist each other to develop their married spirituality and relationship. Equipes Notre-Dame, known in GB as “Teams” was started in France in the 1940’s and has flourished so much that there are now 10,000 teams across the world with over 100 in Britain.

Teams has a specific and direct mission: to help couples, themselves, to live fully their sacrament of marriage. They do this with the support of a team using the Teams method. The founder, Fr Henri Caffarel, gave this “method” including monthly ‘Team meetings‘ and a small number of ‘endeavours‘ for couples.

The principle is to follow the new commandment which Christ, himself, gave us, namely Love: “You must Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, with all your Soul and with all your Mind… You must Love your Neighbour as Yourself.” Matthew 22: 36-40

Teams has a missionary objective: Teams couples proclaim to the world, by word and by the witness of their life, the values of Christian marriage.

Through TEAMS we have met the most amazing and inspirational Catholic couples who come from our parish, who we may never have met without having joined this group. Every month we meet and discuss the readings and topics for the month and follow a pro forma for prayer and meditation. We soak up God’s Word, discuss our responses and then move on with the meeting. It has been 5 years since we joined and we are still enjoying the special time set aside each month  with our friends, sharing our Faith,  ideas and lives with them.

Through TEAMS we have come together with other groups who are also part of the TEAMS movement from across the different regions of England.

On one occasion we invited four members from a  group in South Africa who were over here to experience the movement in England. The evening proved to be a huge success, and it felt as though we knew these strangers from far away, as we ‘spoke the same language’ in Christ. What a blessing!

Not only have we grown spiritually and matured as a couple in Christ, but our hearts and eyes have been opened to different ideas about meditation , topics  and prayer and we have been encouraged by the faithfulness and love of Jesus that we witness in our fellow Christians each month.

I highly recommend joining TEAMS of Our Lady if you want to grow as a couple with Christ Jesus at its centre.