It was in early May 2001 that yours truly and maybe 30 + other fellows got yanked out of our chairs at the first official day of a Society of Saint Pius X retreat.
For me it was my second one with the Society.
While I’d already known this particular priest for some time, I hadn’t known his varied expertise, which included warming up the crowd with that old timey all-male banana-peel humour, until all of a sudden, it was wham!
“If someone were to ask you what is the single most essential thing for your eternal salvation, how many of you would answer, Sanctifying Grace?”
A former hot-shot outboard motor mechanic, he had a warm, engaging California grin and a sort of laid-back attitude.
I’m sure we all knew we were making the biggest mistake of our lives, but as I recall each and everyone of us bravely rose to the challenge, raised our hands and declared one and all that Sanctifying Grace was the way to go.
“You’re all wrong!” He shouted and laughed at the same time. “And your answer tells me you are all guilty of being at least Semi-Pelagions!”
[Whoever those unlucky guys were! ]
He then went on to describe Actual Grace and its **absolutely essential role **in our salvation, etc., which most anyone reading this forum has long since learned, or have we?
Because, well, looking back all these years I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, one that continues today:
“We ARE the Remnant selected by Grace for the end of times,” or some such thing. Even well-meaning bloggers use it as a motto.
Thus: “It’s either MY Mass, or I go to NO Mass!”
And for many of us (including myself more than once, believe me!) the Catholic religion was – and for many I suspect still is – a question of:
“Well, I reckon if I drive 150 miles (or whatever) to a REAL Mass, maybe that’ s o.k. – and it’s still o.k. even if THAT priest is a no show three weeks in a row, etc – so as a result (since I don’t want to go to one of THOSE Masses) I go have breakfast at the nearest diner instead.”
“'Cause as a member of that stalwart Remant Selected by Grace” (or whatever) “great powers are automatically given to ME, like wow! --* I’m my very own pope*!”
“**I **get to decide how I’ll be saved!”
Tell you what, while that young Society of St. Pius X priest may not have intended his beginning ice breaker to eventually spin out the way it did, I just glad I was there and accepted the longterm challenge.
To finally act on it two years plus three weeks later…