Friday, June 15, 2012

Gaining Grace Points

A journalist for the Catholic Times reflects on his grammar school days when he worked to gather grace points by attending daily Mass. It was an opportunity which permitted students to  choose from a list of good deeds they had performed in order to accumulate grace points. The points could then be changed into a kind of money that could be used at the church  bazaar to buy gifts or sweets.

He was excited about getting  his points by attending daily Mass. He would get up early, and with his mother went to daily Mass. After two days, often dozing and finding it a great  bother, he was going to give it up but the words of praise from the parishioners and his desire for the points kept him going. Compared to his classmates, he remembers gaining a great many more grace points.

But getting grace points wasn't what motivated the children in Vietnam, he soon learned while traveling there to gather information on minorities. In order to write his article he went to a 5:00 am morning Mass at the Cathedral parish in one of the dioceses. Although it was a morning Mass there were many at the Mass; surprisingly many were children. They were, he recalls, all very attentive and devout, from beginning to end. It made a big impression on him. There were no adults to praise them or to present them with grace points, and yet they were all singling loudly and saying the prayers together. He interviewed  a few of the children, and was told they considered Mass a part of their daily life and a joy.

Even though the Vietnam government is putting obstacles in the way of believers, making it uncomfortable for them to observe the faith freely, they continue to build up
"treasure in heaven," he said, not grace points here on earth.

He wonders if he may still be unconsciously motivated, as an adult, to gain earthly  grace points by how he lives his religious life. He hopes to guard against this all too common tendency among believers.

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