A large part of the Catholic spiritual life is learning how to cooperate with the actions of grace in our lives. Grace is the free gift of the Holy Trinity in our souls. We do nothing to earn this divine Presence. We receive grace in Baptism and through the other Sacraments. But the Holy Trinity is not passive in our souls. The Divine Persons are actively converting our hearts, drawing us closer to them, and empowering us to participate in the Divine Life.
And we are not called to be passive either! We are called to a real relationship with the Trinity through Jesus. That means that even though grace is given to us as a divine gift, we still need to do our part! Grace is a relationship, and relationships always require the involvement of both parties. We are called to cooperate with grace, and so to participate in our own salvation and sanctification.
The Fruits of the Spirit are a great example of this interplay between grace and works of faith. Fruit is something that naturally grows from a living plant. The fruits of the Spirit are characteristics which should naturally grow out of the operation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. But these fruits are also virtues that we need to exercise in order to fully realize the effects of grace in our lives.
In other words, practicing the virtues of the Fruits of the Spirit help us to “lean into” the workings of grace in our hearts. Listen to how Saint Paul describes the Fruits of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians:
Notice that while the Fruits are obviously the result of grace through the Holy Spirit, Saint Paul doesn’t just catalog them as something for us to watch out for. He urges us to “walk by the Spirit.”
Join me in exploring each of these Fruits of the Holy Spirit, and how we can “lean into” the grace of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our souls. As we cooperate with these actions of grace, we will bear fruit in holiness.
Also published on Medium.