Many of us attend Mass more than once a week, pray the Rosary regularly, and have great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We say many prayers; yet people notice our bad tempers, our sharp tongues, our gloomy or touchy dispositions. What went wrong? Aren’t we supposed to be more holy?
Grace may actually be taking effect on our souls; although we are not aware of it as we appear to have many defects.
It could be that we do not have the right or the best intentions. We pray out of routine that we even forget that God is present while in Mass or in our visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Or we do it for show or out of obligation. Or we pray just to twist God’s arm for what we want, to ask for a litany of requests. The amount of grace that we will receive, therefore, will be little because it will depend on our intentions and dispositions.
It could be that God is giving us abundant graces through these forms of prayers; but we are not cooperating with them because of our pride, sensuality, love of comfort, or laziness. Rather than using the grace to mortify our tongues, we prefer to gossip or to shout at our house helpers. Or we could be in the state of mortal sin; since no matter how many hundreds of rosaries we may say, they do not have value in God’s eyes as we are not in union with Him. This, however, should not discourage us from praying and performing good deeds, because God may decide to pour us with actual graces (those spurts of spiritual energy that can lead us to return to Him through confession).
We have to realize that all prayers and spiritual practice (including reading the Gospels, praying the Angelus, going to confession) are means to help us become saints. They can help us change for the better, in fact, become “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (which is God’s will for us). When we pray, it is important that we always cooperate with His graces by doing good and avoiding evil, by doing His will and not our wills. Thus, “our behavior and our conversation will be such that everyone who sees or hears us can say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ.” (St. Josemaria Escriva)
(Reference: The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva; “You Can Become a Saint!” By Mary Ann Budnik; “The Faith Explained” by Leo Trese)