Monday, April 16, 2012

Grace builds on nature

There is an old saying that "Grace builds on nature."

What this means (as I understand it) is that God's grace in our lives works in such a way that it makes who we are and what we are better.

God made us who we are, He made us with our personality, and He made us in His image and likeness.  We are not the products of some cosmic accident rather we are deliberate and chosen individuals whom God chose to create from all eternity.

When God made you He said the same thing that He said after every moment of the creation story after He had completed something, "It is good."

You are good!!!  Please, please, please believe me when I tell you that God made you good and as such you cannot unmake your self and turn yourself into something that is not good.

When God looks at you He sees His own reflection because you are in His image and likeness!

When God looks at you He smiles.  I promise you that.

It is true we are all sinners but St. Paul said, "Where sin abounds grace abounds all the more." (Romans 5:20)  This does not mean that we should sin to receive more grace.  But it does mean that God's design for life is such that even sin cannot get in the way of His grace.

Why?  Why is that?  Why is God's grace so overwhelming and powerful?

Well, we could delve into thousands of years of theology to investigate the question of, "What is grace?" but I think I'll offer the simplest... and possibly best answer.  The Holy Spirit is God's grace.  Grace is the Holy Spirit.  Grace = the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit = grace.

So how can grace (the Holy Spirit) build on nature (our human nature)?

The answer is that the Holy Spirit and our human nature were made for each other.  Well, in reality our human nature was made for the Holy Spirit and not the other way around.

So often we think of God the Father in many and various ways.  We most often think of God the Son, Jesus Christ.  But have you ever considered the role of the Holy Spirit in your life?

I really think the Holy Spirit is frequently the forgotten member of the Holy Trinity.  In reality it is the Holy Spirit who is the person of God who is most close to us!!!

Grace builds on nature because we are all "Temples of the Holy Spirit."  Deep within in our hearts, our souls, our guts, the depth of who we are is where the Holy Spirit resides.

It is there that the Holy Spirit is constantly at work empowering us, never forcing us, to grow in virtue, dwell in peace, and enter more fully into the life of the Holy Trinity.

Look inside of yourself and you will find the Holy Spirit.  Stare into the depths of your soul and will find the Holy Spirit staring back at you.  This is why grace builds on nature.  God made us to be receptacles of the Holy Spirit and as we grow and get to know who we are and what our nature is the more that we get to know God.

It is an odd paradox (and it may sound troubling) but the more that we get to know our nature (our personality and human nature in general) the more that we get to know God.  God did become a human after all.  He chose to be found and encountered as a human.  In doing so He bestowed on all human nature the ability to be vessels of the divine.

If you want to get to know God more... get to know who God has made you to be.  Find the Holy Spirit in the depth of your self.
If you want to grow in God's grace learn about your human nature.  Become a student of humanity.  And become an explorer of your inner self.  This is the way that God has chosen to be found and known.  You don't have to go somewhere to find God, just look within.  You don't even have to try to find God... He's already found you!


This may sound odd to some.  And to some it may even sound heretical.  
I'm not saying that each one of us is a god.  What I'm sharing with you is (as I understand it) the central insight that Catholic mystics have all agreed on... that God is to be found within because for some reason that is where He has chosen to be encountered.

The easiest way to grow in virtue and grace is to grown in self-knowledge (an understanding of your human nature).  The more that you get to know yourself the more that you encounter God because the Holy Spirit does dwell within you.


  1. Very much enjoyed this post. Enlightening and accessible to my "lay brain". Thank you!

  2. You are very welcome!

    If you ever have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.
    I love questions!

  3. How do we "get to know our nature"?