Some theologians thought the grace that was profitable to salvation is called efficacious, not at all because of leading us gently and mightily to consent to good, but because it is given to us at the moment when God has foreseen that by ourselves we would choose to accept it rather than to resist it. The divine prevision of man’s response is what distinguishes efficacious grace from grace that is not efficacious. In other words, this efficacy does not come from the divine will, but from the human will; the grace is efficacious not because God wills it so, but because man accepts it. According to this idea, it may happen that of two sinners under the same circumstances receiving equal actual graces, one will be converted and the other will remain in his sin. Hence this difference of determination between these two men springs solely from the human will, and not at all from the difference in the divine help which they received. The same grace, which remained sterile in one, was efficacious in the other because he himself made it efficacious. –Father Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange ‘Christian Perfection and Contemplation According to St Thomas Aquinas and St John of the Cross’
This paragraph made me think, swirling about an incident yesterday, assisting in the accepting within complete mystery of a telephone call. I was removed from the case of my hospice patient, informed the patient is doing better, removed from the bedside vigil program. My initial reaction was ‘He is not getting better. They are not even feeding him’. I inquired a bit, yet it was obvious the woman calling possessed minimal details, not even sure if he was being fed, or that he was not even being fed. She was simply making a call. The call disturbed me, causing me to consider the words of Ann that I must be very careful, not showing my spirituality too conspicuously. I was praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, reading scripture and Catholic spiritual writing. I studied my patient’s face closely, searching for signs of agitation. I authentically focused matters upon his care, and not my agenda. I conducted myself with silence for the most part, comfortable in everything I did. Medical personnel walked in while I was praying, one finding me sleeping grasping my Rosary. Did I show my faith, hope, and charity too much? Did I overstep my bounds? Was I improper? I am convinced he is not getting better. I doubt they resumed feeding him. However, maybe I am wrong. The bedside vigil program is based upon a forty-eight hour terminal caution. He has been going for a week, and I always possessed the belief he was not close to death. He was terminal, yet he was going to hang on. I was positive he would endure for weeks, possibly months. I would have continued, confident I brought him comfort. The length of the time did not concern me, yet maybe that was what mattered to the hospice. I am truly ignorant of the ways of the medical world. I also considered my personal investment. I truly enjoyed sitting bedside. Did I become too attached to my consolations and internal rewards, thus prompting God to remove the blessing of sitting with the man? Did the patient find me offensive? What I was doing was important to me and now everything ends in mystery. I accept the fact easily, yet thoughts and questions arise concerning proper formation. As Father Peyriguere writes: While praising and loving the “mysteries of God’s designs,”…you must not strain to see these designs. There is only one thing worth-while: to surrender yourself and your fortune to His will with the blind and total trust of a little child in his father’s arms. I embrace the concept Ann presented, words she verbalized that strike from my own arsenal, that my presence is enough during the bedside vigils. It is a being rather than a doing that brings comfort and spiritual bolstering. Words and my efforts are not necessary. If the patient is ready the grace will be efficacious. The patient, in an acute spiritual state, will perceive the Christ I bring to his side. I will be stealth in my future spiritual efforts while serving as a hospice volunteer. I will also not become disgruntled with myself, a natural tendency of mine to be too hard on myself. Possibly, I tried too hard, coming on too strong, naïve of the ways of the medical world, during my initial vigils. It is ok. God is good and all giving. The efficacy of grace depends upon proper reception, however the dispensing of grace is not crushed by man. God continues to give. If I made a mistake, or even if the medical personnel were wrong, God will overcome, presenting future graces for me to serve those entering death. Once again, God is good and all giving.