Life in grace is a goal

By Father Patrick Toner Contributing Columnist

May 16, 2014

A life in grace will be a balanced life that includes piety, study, and action. It will be achieved after you’ve considered what God has offered and you’ve motivated yourself to act upon what your intellect reveals as a good choice.

Where do you find the motivation for the ongoing conversion that is called a life in grace? It has to be more than just, ‘It seems like a good idea.’ Your will can exercise its freedom to choose based upon what kind of motivation you provide. Your will can draw upon God’s grace to act in accordance with what your intellect inspires you to become. The ideal is to live a Christ-filled life.

God’s will for us is simply that we know his infinite love. We have to meditate upon that love to fully understand it. All sin is selfishness. When our hearts are filled with Christ’s love, we change. His love influences our thoughts, words, and actions.

Thank God for all your blessings. Recall the multiplication stories and the lesson that his grace is always more than you will need. Look at the universe, vast and beautiful and see his gift to you. Above all else, get to know Jesus personally.

When you are ready to commit, make a plan. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Life should be intentional, not accidental. Love is a decision. I subscribe to the principle that if it doesn’t make it onto my calendar, it doesn’t happen. I build my spiritual life around a plan.

There are two approaches to seeking holiness and life in grace. One is to avoid sin. We need to know right and wrong so we can choose wisely. Avoiding the occasions of sin is always good advice. I prefer the other approach: Focus on virtue. When a husband is totally committed to loving his wife as much as possible each day, he will never fall for the temptations of the devil. The reason is that there is only one thing on his mind: His love. With your mind and heart set of Jesus, each day, and often during the day, you won’t have to worry about temptation.

God wants only one thing from us: Namely that we know He loves us completely. Grace is the abundant love of God freely given and accepted through faith. The spiritual disciplines help keep us focused on Jesus and his love.

Father Patrick Toner is pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at or (614) 873-8850.