Saved by Grace Through Faith
When going on a religious retreat, I believe that one’s main goal should be to achieve a greater understanding of God. On this retreat, I accomplished this goal through the talks given by Father Rich Simon and the periods of reflection. One thing that truly stuck with me from the presentations during the retreat was the reality that God does not give us things; instead, he takes away. When this concept was first introduced to me by Father Simon, I thought it a bit strange. Oftentimes when we pray, we ask for things; for instance, we pray to God to help us get a good grade on a test or to do well in a game. However, God’s purpose in our life is to make us look like Jesus, so that we may become adopted sons and daughters of God. In order to do this, we must allow God to form us into Christ’s image.
Father Simon gave the analogy of a statue being carved out of a block of marble. In order for us to become more like Christ, God must first chip away the pieces that are not Jesus, such as sin, or that distract us from following Jesus. When we ask God to form us into his Son, we must allow Him to take away these pieces. Many times, we see these pieces as necessary parts of ourselves and feel a strong desire to hang on to them. This is equivalent to providing an explanation and making excuses to God for why we have sinned. However, this is not the mindset we should have for repentance, though it is many times the case. We must acknowledge that, as Father Simon put it, “we are wrong, and God is right”, which is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, if we truly seek to become God’s adopted children, we must repent by fully surrendering to God
One of the phrases repeated throughout the presentations by Father Simon was “saved by grace through faith”; as Catholics, we must first have faith in the Lord to be saved, even if at times it seems that he is chipping away the very essence of who we are. We must trust in Him and His teachings, although we may not have an understanding of why he takes such seemingly vital things away. At the end of our time on the earth, some of us may feel that we have been reduced to “dashboard statuettes” of Christ, but if we have allowed ourselves to openly be transformed by grace into His image, we can rest knowing that salvation is at hand.