(I felt a strong inspiration to remind us as we hit the halfway point of Lent that what follows below is the main reason why we don’t make the spiritual progress we so desire. Take note especially of what St. Therese has to say on thanksgiving).
We know from our Faith that God will grant us the Grace to respond to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit for our sanctification, but only if we truly love God and correspond with the effort of our free will to His Grace. St. Frances de Sales, Doctor of the Church, states: “…if we do not resist God’s Grace, He gives each of us the inspirations we need in order to live, act and maintain ourselves in the spiritual life.” It is the Gifts of the Holy Spirit placed in our soul at Baptism and strengthened at our Confirmation and further strengthened with each worthy Holy Communion, which allow us to hear and respond consistently to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Doctor of the Church, states that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit “prepare the soul to follow promptly the impulse of Divine inspiration.” So, since the Gifts and Virtues of the Holy Spirit are essential to our growth in holiness, it is a matter of the greatest importance that we learn and practice all we can about the Gifts and how they open our faculties to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. But how do we activate and grow the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Our guide in this matter, Fr. Jacques Philippe, from “In the School of the Holy Spirit”, explains that the main reason that we do not receive the necessary Grace is: WE FAIL TO THANK GOD FOR THE GRACES HE HAS ALREADY GIVEN TO US (emphasis added). He quotes St. Therese of Lisieux, another Doctor of the Church: “What most draws down graces from our dear Lord is gratitude, for if we thank Him for a gift, He hastens to give us ten more, and if we thank Him again with the same sincerity, what an incalculable multiplication of graces! I have experienced this; try it and see.”
Fr. Jacques asks us to see and understand that our subtle ingratitude, our failure to recognize our nothingness and that everything…every single thing we have is Grace…pure Gift…is indeed what stifles Grace, especially since we do not consistently thank God for all the blessings and benefits of each moment of each day and simply take them for granted (our Faith, Hope, Love, talents, skills, parents, country, occupation, house, food). Why is it that we are one of every three people in the world who believes in Christ? Why are we not in the two of every three people who do not know or believe in Christ? Why is it that we are a Catholic and not a Protestant? How is it that we know and believe in the Most Blessed Sacrament? How is it that we are in the 1% of all people who actually can and do take advantage of this Gift of all Gifts on a daily basis? How is it that we were chosen to know and receive the Extraordinary Flame of Love Grace? All is Pure Gift of an All-Loving, Infinite God! All we have is a gratuitous Gift! Yet, we take these incredible Gifts of God for granted…or certainly we do not thank God often and profusely for these incredible Gifts of His Love.
So, what must we do? We must change by begging for more Grace to be truly thankful each day and seek to practice praise and thanksgiving each day throughout the day, especially with formal prayers of praise and thanksgiving added to our daily prayer time; and with short bursts of praise and thanksgiving throughout the day….”Lord, I praise and thank you for everything You have given me!” Next, we must give more time and effort devoted to praising and thanking God from our free time. Worthily attending daily Mass with Holy Communion is the greatest way to thank and praise God! If we are already doing that…then making a Holy Hour each week would be the next gift of praise and thanksgiving! We must continue to give God more of our free time, which is now wasted on foolish things like TV, Internet and too much talking and entertainment. Instead, we must use this wasted time to especially praise Him and thank Him for the Graces we have received.
Once we become consistent at this praise and thanksgiving, we will begin to see and feel new Graces bestowed and we will begin to be more patient and docile in listening for the inspirations of the Holy Spirit at each moment of the day. We will then find we are growing closer to God and beginning to act more like His Mother and He would act in each situation of the day. We will see our bad habits and laziness begin to change! Come Holy Spirit, come into my daily life in a new and more powerful way with Your Gifts, and let me hear and act on all Your inspirations, so I may be Holy as You are Holy for Your Glory and the salvation of souls! I praise and thank You for all the Graces I have ever received and will ever receive! Please, I beg You to do this through the power of the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! By trusting in our Mother and taking and living the Flame of Love Grace, this process of gratitude for Grace is accelerated and made much more secure! She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mediatrix of all Grace and Mother of perfect thanksgiving! Fiat!