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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grace is a Gift, it is not Given for Innocence nor Withheld for Sin

The Cloud of Unknowing

If you ask me just precisely how one is to go about doing the contemplative work of love, I am at a complete loss. All I can say is I pray that Almighty God in his great goodness and kindness will teach you himself. For in all honesty I must admit I do not know. And no wonder, it is a divine activity, and God will do it in whomever he chooses. No one can earn it. Paradoxical as it may seem, it would not ever occur to a person - no, nor to an angel or saint - to desire contemplative love were it not already alive within him. I believe too, that our Lord deliberately chooses to work in those who have been habitual sinners rather than in those who, by comparison, have never grieved him at all. Yes, he seems to do this very often. For I think he wants us to realize that he is all-merciful and almighty, and that he is perfectly free to work as he pleases, where he pleases, and when he pleases.

Yet he does not give his grace nor work this work in a person who has no aptitude for it. But a person lacking the capacity to receive his grace could never gain it through his own efforts either. No one at all, neither sinner nor innocent, can do so. For this grace is a gift, and it is not given for innocence nor withheld for sin.

The Cloud of Unknowing was written in Middle English by an unknown mystic of the fourteenth century.
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