Abundant grace—a simple lesson for RCIA teams

6 thoughts on “Abundant grace—a simple lesson for RCIA teams”

  1. Hello! Just a quick note to say thanks for this imagery. I’ve been using images like the AIR all around us and essential but something we take very much for granted until we find ourselves without it. Currently, I’ve been using the imagery and experience of relationships — we have so many, and many we take for granted, but we need to appreciate and nourish those that matter to us, and care about even those that seem less important at any particular stage in life.

    Years ago the imagery of a fish in water was also popular. I too remember the milk bottle imagery — it was in the Baltimore Catechism!

    Thanks for your continuing outreach, ministry and imagination! you are a blessing to many!

    1. Hi Clare. I especially like the imagery of relationships. Because grace is ultimately entering into relationship with the Divine Trinity. Thanks for the source on the milk bottle imagery. My grade school didn’t use the Baltimore Catechism, but clearly the nuns who taught us were familiar with it!

      –Nick

  2. I once read an explanation of “grace” as God’s invitiation into relationship with us. I like this because, as in all relationships, it requires a response. As a child I was taught that grace was a gift, unearned and freely given – but that gift is also an invitation and the only way to strenthen and perpetuate the relationship is participate fully in it. And that is the way of discipleship.

    1. Hi Renee. You and Clare are on the same wavelength about relationship. That’s terrific! I really like your comment about grace also being an invitation. That is so important for initiation ministry. Thanks for your thoughts.

      –Nick

  3. I’m sorry Team RCIA but this theology is just not accurate! Firstly, the Church’s teaching on grace did not change at Vatican II. Secondly, it is very vague to say “we cannot know exactly” what grace is. The Catechism seems to think we can! In my parish in London, UK, we teach in all our catechesis (to young people and adults) that grace is “participation in the life of God” (CCC 1997) – that is a specific theological reality, not something vague and non-descript as you seem to suggest. Furthermore, the Catechism tells us that “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it” (1999). Which is clearly contrary to your suggestion that the world is infused with grace at Creation. Grace is only given as part of the mystery of redemption, otherwise what is the point of being baptised?

    I really think we fail people in RCIA when we give them fuzzy, inaccurate teaching. I don’t know who writes these articles but I would hope that they have solid theological formation. It does show the importance of well-formed catechists in RCIA – these things matter!

    Finally – it is also important to distinguish between theology and doctrine. In catechesis, we teach doctrine, not theology – have a look at the GDC. Doctrine is everything that has been revealed to us by God and this is something concrete and certain – we know it truly, though not fully. The theological exploration of doctrine is a more speculative and technical discipline that has never – in the Church’s long tradition – ever been a feature of the RCIA.

    Thank you for your ideas and passion for the RCIA, but please read the Catechism first 🙂

  4. Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for your comments. If I may, I’d like to respond to a few of your points. First, there is nothing in the post that says the church’s teaching on grace changed at Vatican II. I did say that the way it is taught today has shifted from the way it was taught when I was in grade school. I think that’s pretty obvious.

    I still hold, however, that we cannot know exactly what grace is. We can quote the Catechism, which is helpful but not completely illuminating. “Paticipation in the life of God” is something I’ve experienced all my life, and it is still a joyful mystery to me. And mystery, of course, cannot be fully known or explained. I cannot find anywhere in the post where I said it was vague and nondescript. I did say that we cannot exactly describe it.

    The Catechism itself says that “grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith” (2008). Faith itself is a mystery, a mystery we can share and be drawn more deeply into. But we cannot, in this life, fully explain it.

    Finally, when you say that humanity only experiences grace beginning with baptism, that just doesn’t square with church teaching. The Second Vatican Council teaches that “those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them by the dictates of their conscience” (Lumen Gentium, 16).

    Even athietsts participate in God’s grace:

    Nor does divine Providence deny the help necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, but who strive to live a good life, thanks to His grace. Whatever goodness or truth is found among them is looked upon by the church as a preparation for the gospel.” (Lumen Gentium, 16)

    I do agree that we have to teach church doctrine faithfully. Thank you for your continued efforts in that mission.

    –Nick

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