Welcome to the Grace of Yes Book Club! We're reading Lisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living.

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Lisa’s beautiful testimony in this chapter, “The Grace of Belief,” shows how blessings come from sticking it out through the hard times to get to the gold.

Do we really believe there will never by any hardships or trials in life? Maybe not consciously, but I think we often operate that way on a subconscious level. We complain when things don’t go our way as if bad things aren’t supposed to happen to us if we’re faithful Christians. However, grace flows from the crucible where mature Christian faith is born. The fruit of Lisa’s faith, strained but not broken, is the proof.

I was struck by her admittance that even though she had a very strong faith in high school and college, looking back she could see that it wasn’t mature.

“I can see now that believing back then was largely a ‘What’s in it for me?’ proposal. I believed that God would hear and answer my prayers. I did not yet understand the mandate that being a believer also meant being first and foremost a generous spirit.”

In many ways, Lisa recounts an idyllic Catholic upbringing. She grew up with a family environment richly blessed by two generations of faithful Catholic witness. Nurtured by this fertile Catholic home, a loving and affable parish pastor, and the faith-filled surroundings of a Catholic university, it seems almost impossible that her faith would not grow.

And yet, I know that faith is not a given in any situation. Many factors come into play. As a father I’m zealous to make sure my children are solidly formed in faith. I continually try to engineer a kind of lovingly tended garden of grace where faith can grow. But ultimately, it is a person’s “yes” to belief that makes the difference. Lisa’s childhood faith grew, in part due to her strong Catholic home, but due in larger measure from her willingness to cooperate with and love her God. And that’s why her faith survived.

So it was that, once outside her Catholic bubble, her yes had to really become her own…though sometimes only through sheer force of will. I think God recognizes and rewards those times when belief is burdensome and still we push through. I’m reminded of St. Therese of Lisieux who remarked that devotion lived out through great effort in spite of our feelings shows more love, and through that God is better praised. It’s easy to follow God when things are going our way. But do you follow him even when you don’t feel like it? That’s the true test. Lisa’s faith was strengthened during those times of begrudging yeses so that it could blossom and then be given away—first to her children and then to her husband.

“By that point my belief—my yes to those things I had been taught over so many years—was finally fully my own. I knew God’s love, I had witnessed it so fully that I couldn’t’ wait to share it with this precious little soul. Here was overwhelming evidence of grace.”

Then, of course, the grace of her yes to God was extended to millions on the internet through a humble quest to share ideas on how to be a great Catholic Mom. I am a recipient of that grace, along with so many others who contribute to CatholicMom.com.

Lisa learned well the connection between believing and generosity…and she lives it! I have been, and continue to be, seriously blessed by her generous spirit. She not only extended a hand, she leaned far out over the rail to help me. And, I’m sure there’s countless others that could say the same. I am truly grateful Lisa said yes to belief and to the challenge of sharing it. I pray that many will be inspired to cooperate with their own grace of belief through this witness.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Think back to a time you found it difficult to believe, do you think your faith grew from that experience? How?
  2. In what way does your experience resonate with Lisa's statement that being a believer means being first and foremost a generous spirit? How have you been blessed by blessing others generously?
  3. How has your life, or the lives of those around you, been blessed by saying yes to your own grace of belief?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we'll cover Chapter 2: The Grace of Generativity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Grace of Yes Book Club page.

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Copyright 2014 Marc Cardonella