Grace of Yes Book Club: The Grace of Belief, Chapter 1

 

Welcome to the first-annual Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club! We’re reading The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living by Lisa Hendey.

WINE Bookclub Hendey graphic 1 0415

By Judy Landrieu Klein

“Nashville brought my first real encounter with spiritual doubt,” writes author Lisa Hendey in Chapter One of the The Grace of Yes, entitled “The Grace of Belief.” Lisa goes on to say that it was during her post-college experience with spiritual doubt that her “yes” to God became her own for the first time in her life.

Each of us encounters a moment in life where our “yes” to God must become our own. Like Lisa, I was born and raised Catholic in a largely Catholic city, New Orleans. And like Lisa, I encountered spiritual doubt in young adulthood, doubt that would end in my self-proclamation as an agnostic and a complete falling away from any practice of the Catholic faith. Moving toward atheism, I vividly remember the agony I experienced after arriving at the conclusion that I wasn’t sure if God existed. “God, are you real?” I began to pray. As the years passed, my prayer became bolder: “God, if you are real, then show me!” I demanded.

God, in His great mercy, dramatically answered my prayer. It happened when my cousin’s cousin, who was jogging by my apartment, ran into my sister out front, and she invited him in to say hello. Visibly changed from the last time I had seen him, I had to ask, “Kent, what happened to you? Why do you look so different?”

“I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior,” he said. “He’s totally changed my life.” Though also raised Catholic, Kent invited me to go with him to the little evangelical church that he had been attending on Tulane University’s campus. The rest, as they say, is history.

Kent picked me up for the service on Sunday morning, and upon the pastor’s invitation, I surrendered my life to Christ. Amazingly, in one split second, everything changed. I moved from: “I don’t know if God exists,” to: “I know that God exists, that He loves me personally and that He has a plan and a purpose for my life.” It was a transformative experience that opened up a new trajectory for my life—the path of personal, living faith in God. I now understand it as the moment that my Baptism as a Catholic infant finally “took.” Though I spent five years in an evangelical Christian church, I eventually made my way back home to the Catholic Church, where my faith journey had originally begun.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines faith as both a gift from God and a human act (paragraphs 153-154). Most of us receive the gift of faith as infants, whereupon God infuses the supernatural virtue of faith into our souls in the Sacrament of Baptism. But belief is also “an authentically human act,” an act that consists in the total self-surrender of the human person, through grace, to the living God. While most of us received the gift of faith as infants, mature conversion demands that we give our assent to God with our whole being, a response that God pursues relentlessly and awaits patiently. Such surrender generally occurs when we are adults, when we are ready and able to choose to give our selves and our lives to the God who knows us, loves us and desires to be in relationship with us.

While we often see people “leave” the Catholic Church to “find” God, this need not be so. Lisa Hendey’s book, The Grace of Yes, is a perfect tool to open the dialogue with baptized Catholics about making an adult decision to give themselves and their lives to Christ, saying “yes” to Him in deeper, and perhaps altogether new, ways. Read it! Share it! And invite others to come along on the journey of faith in Christ through The Grace of Yes.

To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:

  1. Have I made an adult decision to give my life to Christ, holding nothing back?
  2. Have I invited others to come along on the journey with me, looking for opportunities to invite them to deepen their faith and come to a greater love of Christ?

Please comment on your thoughts from Chapter 1, your inspirations and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

About the Author:

Image courtesy of Judy Klein. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Judy Landrieu Klein.
 All rights reserved.

Judy Landrieu Klein, a mother and grandmother, is an author, inspirational speaker, widow–and newlywed! Her book, Miracle Man, which has been an Amazon Kindle Bestseller in Catholicism, chronicles her late husband’s near death experience and deathbed conversion. A Catholic theologian, Judy speaks about cultivating HOPE in our brokenness.  Her blog, Holy Hope, can be found at MemorareMinistries.com.

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Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 2: The Grace of Generativity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.

WINE thanks Ave Maria Press for supporting our Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club. Specifically, thank you to Heather Glenn and her team for their marketing expertise.

Order your copy of The Grace of Yes, at St. George’s Books & Gifts. Free shipping on orders of $30 or more, and WINE will receive 10% of your order to support our evangelization efforts.

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21 Responses to “Grace of Yes Book Club: The Grace of Belief, Chapter 1”
  1. I was born Catholic and have remained Catholic all my life. My faith, however, has changed through the years. Now that I’m well into my 70’s, I feel that God plays a bigger part in my life. I read about my faith, and I pray more (but never enough). Recently, I’ve been looking for small ways that I can share my faith….offering a book to someone, guiding a young man to the Adoration Chapel, encouraging others to join this book club.

    • Judy Klein says:

      Janet, It’s amazing the fruit that a small invitation can bring in someone’s life. A friend of mine, then a nominal Catholic, loves to tell the story about how I used to ride around the neighborhood on my bike and invite people to the Holy Spirit Novena. One year, she decided to come. It totally changed her life. She’s one of the most devout women I know, is very involved in Magnificat Women’s Ministry and designed the front cover for my book, “Miracle Man.” The power of sharing. And thank YOU for sharing! God bless, Judy

    • Lisa Hendey says:

      Janet, thank you for sharing your experience. You provide some great, easy and friendly ways that we can each draw others into a “Yes” for faith in their own lives! When something brings us so much joy, we naturally want to share it with others. Thanks for being a blessing to those around you – and for being part of this book club! I look forward to journeying with you this summer!

    • Laurie Forfa says:

      Janet, when I read your post I thought immediately of one of my favorite saints, St Therese, The Little Flower, and her Little Way. In those caring, loving acts you described, you so beautifully reflect the face of Jesus to others.

  2. Laurie Forfa says:

    The phrase that held my attention in Chapter 1 is ‘your plan, my yes’ I was born Catholic and have always stayed ‘Catholic’, but I have also spent a good deal of my life drifting in waves, toward and away from God’s plan for my life. It is only in recent years that I have come to understand, as Judy Landrieu Klein expressed it in her reflection, how God ‘pursues us relentlessly’
    Judy’s first question at the end of her reflection really drew me to think about everything Lisa Hendey had written in Chapter 1 when Judy asked us to consider: ‘Have I made an adult decision to give my life to Christ, holding nothing back?’
    I know that I want to surrender my life to Christ, that I am in the process of surrendering my life to Christ, but that doing it unconditionally is the part of the journey I am still on.

    • Sarah Damm says:

      Thank you for sharing from the heart, Laurie. I am so glad you’re reading with us! Your comment reminds me of something someone once told me: Wherever you are on your journey, Jesus meets you in that place. He patiently walks with you; He doesn’t hurry you along. He loves us where we’re at on the road! God bless you in your reading of and in your journey toward “The Grace of Yes!”

    • Judy Klein says:

      Amen, Laurie and Sarah. Just like “I am saved,” “I am being saved,” “I will be saved.” All are true. I gave my life to Christ and the holding nothing back is a daily process of letting go, of surrendering all to Him. That’s the ongoing process of conversion, which for me, happened after a “Big Bang” of coming alive to Christ. Lisa’s experience was different, as all of ours are. But one thing is for sure…God always calls us to go deeper. Thanks for sharing your beautiful insights.

    • Lisa Hendey says:

      I wanted to echo what Judy and Sarah responded to you. In many ways, that act of giving ourselves fully to Christ is a small, quiet, daily “Yes”. I sometimes envy those who can point to one dramatic moment of conversion – that was not my experience. But please know that you are in my prayers!!

  3. Carol Younger says:

    It’s amazing the number of ways Jesus has to call us to Faith. When did you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? I’m often asked. I usually say: “the day I ran to my own Baptism!” For most, becoming Catholic is a Baptism sacramental ceremony to which they were carried as infants. For me, it was a choice at 7 years old when I found out that, although going to a Catholic parish school, I was not Catholic. I immediately began to ask my parents why, when, and why not? Fortunately, my father was open to the evangelization and catechesis of my second grade nun, Sr. Marina. In time, he agreed to Baptism. I distinctly remember running down the side aisle of that little Holy Spirit Parish Church, thinking to myself with Joy: “Now I belong to Jesus! Now I’m Catholic.” Second grade meant First Holy Communion. I looked forward to that, and I’ve never looked back. Not exactly a cradle Catholic, I have continued to ask all my family and friends all the “w” questions, ending with “why not?” Some have come into the Faith; for others I’m still praying.

    • Sarah Damm says:

      I love your story of Baptism, Carol! How awesome! Those of us who were baptized as infants don’t always think about our Baptism with the same JOY that you exuded at 7! But I think we should! I can tell you still have that joy, and it inspires me to be joyful about being baptized—being a daughter of God—too! It’s an awesome gift and grace, and cause for much rejoicing!

    • Judy Klein says:

      What an incredible grace you received, Carol! To make that choice at seven is amazing. I love when Baptism is celebrated during the Liturgy. It brings me to tears every time I witness that monumental day it is in the lives of those being baptized. Thank you for sharing your story. And keep asking those important questions!

  4. Sarah Damm says:

    I think we do make an initial decision to the grace of belief … That moment when we claim our faith as our own: It’s not my parents’ faith or my teachers’ faith. It’s my faith. But I also think it’s not a one-time decision. To say yes to God is something we have to do daily. Some days, it is so easy to say “Yes, Lord! Hear I am!” And other days, when life is tough, my yes is more of a whisper … My prayer is that my yes can grow stronger in those difficult times.

    There is so much that I love about this chapter. One thing that really struck me was when Lisa wrote, “I’m simply saying that I have realized that my family is best served spiritually when I concern myself less with how holy my husband and sons are and worry more about my own personal relationship with the God who loves me perfectly despite my imperfection” (p. 11). I think this is a key for growing in my own grace of belief (talking more WITH God than ABOUT God), as well as for sharing my belief with my family and friends.

    • Carol Younger says:

      What a great variety of responses and comments. I so enjoy learning how others have responded to God’s gift of faith. I look forward to the email notices each day!

  5. Ellen Becks says:

    I bought a copy of The Grace of Yes after being introduced to the WINE webpage. What and amazing site! It is exciting to read and share thoughts and ideas with women of faith across the country.
    The section of Chapter 1 I most enjoyed was the analogy of sharing the passion and love of our faith story with sharing some delicious chocolate lava cake with friends and family (pages 16-17)”If we can share our passion for a slab of cake with that much conviction, why is it so often excruciatingly difficult to share our beliefs?” I am learning to trust my heart and the Holy Spirit instead of worrying that I don’t have the right words…

    • Sarah Damm says:

      I loved that description, too, Ellen! It really made me think about my own insecurity about sharing my faith … It encouraged me in the fact that when we have a great love in our heart for something (the Lord, our faith), our joy will shine through and that is what people will notice. The words are secondary to our joy, our conviction, our love.

      I am so glad you found WINE and are joining us in our Summer Book Club! I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts throughout our reading together!

      • Adele F says:

        I, too, was struck by the analogy of sharing great food. But from somewhat a different angle. I am not an ‘adventurous’ eater and am often put off when someone assures me I will love a food and is relentless in pushing me to try it. I will try it, but in my time and preferably without an audience. This reminds me to be enthusiastic about my faith, but not demanding in how someone else responds to my enthusiasm. “Would you like a taste?” is so much different than “You HAVE to try this. Here” (as a fork is thrust into your face). Great word picture.

        • Sarah Damm says:

          You make an excellent point, Adele! A big part of sharing our faith is knowing where the other person is coming from. We need to listen to them and respond accordingly. I think we can be excited without imposing or demanding, because God doesn’t impose or demand upon us. But He does invite us. “Would you like a taste?” is inviting. Thank you for sharing your perspective!

        • Lisa Hendey says:

          You taught me a huge lesson today!!!

    • Lisa Hendey says:

      I’m glad that you enjoyed that analogy! It was one that the Holy Spirit definitely inspired. And I now think of my faith every time I enjoy a dessert as well! So happy to have you reading with us.

  6. Sharon Wilson says:

    This is totally off topic here but I have to say I just LOVE reading this book. With every page I see myself or one of my friends in the narative. I also marvel at the fact that women across the country are reading it with me. I have wanted to be part of a book club for over 20 years and the local groups either were “full” or the timing never worked with my schedual. Now I get to be in the biggist bestest book club ever.