The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life. The greatest asses of the world are those who, lacking all understanding and instruction, and void of all civil life and custom, rot in perpetual pedantry; those who by the grace of heaven would reform obscure and corrupted faith, salve the cruelties of perverted religion and remove abuse of superstitions, mending the rents in their vesture. It is not they who indulge impious curiosity or who are ever seeking the secrets of nature, and reckoning the courses of the stars. Observe whether they have been busy with the secret causes of things, or if they have condoned the destruction of kingdoms, the dispersion of peoples, fires, blood, ruin or extermination; whether they seek the destruction of the whole world that it may belong to them: in order that the poor soul may be saved, that an edifice may be raised in heaven, that treasure may be laid up in that blessed land, caring naught for fame, profit or glory in this frail and uncertain life, but only for that other most certain and eternal life.
Learn to... be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
What we want, above all things, in this age is heartiness and holy simplicity; men who justify the holy impulse of grace in their hearts, and do not keep it back by artificial clogs of prudence and false fear, or the sham pretences of fastidiousness and artificial delicacy. These are they whom God will make His witnesses in all ages. They dare to be holy, dare just as readily to be singular. What God puts in them, that they accept; and when He puts a song, they sing it.
Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word "love" here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace - not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.
No man has ever yet desired to pray without ceasing, asked for that grace earnestly, and done everything suggested by God for its bestowal, without having obtained it. To suppose such a thing would be manifest absurdity. For who is it who gives you the desire? God, of course. Does He give it you in order that it may stay unfulfilled? That is impossible. He implants within you a desire for something with the intention of giving you that very thing; He will infallibly give it you if you ask for it in the right way; and He begs you, He urges you, He assists you to make the petition.
This grace (purity of intention) is so excellent that it sanctifies the most common actions of our life and yet is so necessary that without it, the very best actions of our devotion are imperfect and vicious.
Nine requisites for contented living: Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
In the most intimate, hidden and innermost ground of the soul, God is always essentially, actively, and substantially present. Here the soul possesses everything by grace which God possesses by nature.
Though there is not always grace where there is the fear of hell, yet, to be sure, there is no grace where there is no fear of God.
I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.
Without humility, every virtue and every grace withers.
It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people.
Gloom’s roots are in pretentiousness, fastidiousness, and a disregard of the good. The gloomy man, living in irritation and a constant quarrel with his destiny, senses hostility everywhere and seems never to be aware of the illegitimacy of his own complaints. He has a fine sense for the incongruities of life but stubbornly refuses to recognize the delicate grace of existence.
Religion is neither a state of mind nor an achievement of intellect. It does not rule hearts by the grace of man; its roots lie not in his inwardness. It is not an event in the soul but a matter of fact outside the soul. Even what starts as an experience in man transcends the human sphere, becoming an objective event outside him. In this power of transcending the soul, time, and space, the pious man sees the distinction of religious acts.
Only those who have experienced ultimate not-knowing, the voicelessness of a soul struck by wonder, total muteness, are able to enter the meaning of God, a meaning greater than the mind. There is a loneliness in us that hears. When the soul parts from the company of the ego and its retinue of petty concepts; when we cease to exploit all things but instead pray the world’s cry, the world’s sigh, our loneliness may hear the living grace beyond all power.
The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist.
So our customary practice of prayer was brought to mind: how through our ignorance and inexperience in the ways of love we spend so much time on petition. I saw that it is indeed more worthy of God and more truly pleasing to him that through his goodness we should pray with full confidence, and by his grace cling to him with real understanding and unshakeable love, than that we should go on making as many petitions as our souls are capable of.
We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision: the very circle of understanding guides our way, weaving together the pieces, healing the fractures, mending the torn and tortured fragments, lighting the way ahead - this extraordinary movement from part to whole and back again, with healing the hallmark of each and every step, and grace the tender reward.
In the New Testament, religion is grace and ethics is gratitude.