As a result I pay close attention when they occur and memorize them to write down later.
Over time I’ve been astounded to discover just how many graces and blessings God sends me in the course of just one day, because of His desire to work in my soul.
But exactly what are graces and blessings?
The Catholic Church teaches that there are two types of grace: sanctifying grace and actual grace.
Here is an excerpt from Grace: What It Is and What It Does:
“Sanctifying grace stays in the soul. It’s what makes the soul holy; it gives the soul supernatural life. More properly, it is supernatural life.
Actual graces are those daily gifts from God that ‘act on the soul’ if we let them.
God gives us ‘supernatural pushes and encouragement’ all the time. But we need to be open to them. Unless we focus on God’s action every day, we fail to receive His valuable aid on our journey towards Heaven.
And that’s a terrible shame.
To quote again from the article:
“We must continually seek God’s grace, continually respond to the actual graces God is working within us, inclining us to turn to Him and do good.”
A blessing is defined as God’s favor and protection.
In his article Blessing William E. Brown notes:
“…. the concept of blessing pervades the biblical record. Two distinct ideas are present. First, a blessing was a public declaration of a favored status with God. Second, the blessing endowed power for prosperity and success. In all cases, the blessing served as a guide and motivation to pursue a course of life within the blessing.”
“The parallels between the Old and New Testament usages of blessing are striking. (In the Old Testament) to be blessed is to be granted special favor by God with resulting joy and prosperity. In the New Testament, however, the emphasis is more on spiritual rather than on material blessings.”
We tend to see the good things in our lives as proof that God favors us, and the bad things as proof that we’ve fallen out of favor with Him.
But as we see above, we should look for spiritual blessings, not just material ones – and that includes when something ‘bad’ happens to us.
But (after a period of feeling sorry for myself) I finally realized it was God’s way of saying:
(a) You need to be more humble
(b) Worry more about getting to heaven and less about winning at horse shows!
As we all know, blessings come in many different disguises….
How to Increase Graces & Blessings
As we’ve already discussed, God is constantly trying to bestow His graces and blessings upon us. The easy way to 'increase' both in our lives is, quite simply, to be open to them and aware of their presence.
You will be amazed to discover a daily abundance of grace when you take the time to listen to God’s guiding voice inside you. Watch out for the times when He helps you follow His will, and you’ll recognize the richness of His blessings upon you.
I’ll give you an example of my latest experience of this
Although I hadn’t done it on purpose, could I still receive Communion?
I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a sign, before I was due to go up to Communion, and let me know if I could receive or not. Then I tried to stop fretting while I waited for Him to act.
For some reason, the Gospel was different from the one in my Magnificat. So I opened the church prayer book in the pew so I could follow the one being read by the lector.
And there I saw it: for 2015, the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady was not a holy day of obligation (as it normally is).
The Holy Spirit had answered my prayer and given me my sign. I could receive Communion with a clear conscience.
This is an example of how, when one sincerely tries to follow God’s will, He will bestow the graces necessary to do it, and provide blessings – either spiritual or material, or both – in return.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s wonderful book Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence explains how “God hides behind the simplest of daily activities; finding Him is a matter of total surrender to His will.”
As the French Jesuit priest and writer states:
“Our moments are made fruitful by our fulfilment of the will of God … this holy will is infinitely wise, powerful and amiable to those who trust themselves unreservedly to it … and who believe … that what it arranges for each moment is best.”
He goes on to say:
“All that happens to me therefore will be food for my nourishment, water for my cleansing, fire for my purification, and a channel of grace for all my needs.”
“You search for hidden ways of belonging to God, good people, but the only way is that of making use of whatever He sends you … All things are intended to guide, raise, and support you and are in the hand of God whose action is vaster and more present than the elements of earth, air, and water.”
When we understand that every moment of our day is sent by God for our guidance and help, we become increasingly better receptacles of His grace, and more aware of the blessings that he bestows upon us.
Everyday circumstances become a miracle of God’s sanctifying work in our lives if we choose to be open to Him, regardless of whether He brings us trials or good times.
Try writing them down and you'll be amazed at how many graces and blessings God gives you!