What does the 2005 RECongress theme mean to you?

"Awake to Grace"
"Despierten a la Gracia"


about the 2005 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress theme,

or read the following submissions from others:

"Awake to Grace" is a timely theme at this time in our Church and world. "Grace" can be understood as a term which names our relationship with God (and, by extension, with others). When so many relationships are broken; in a world ravaged by poverty, violence, and greed; in a Church reeling from abuses and disheartening decisions, we need to awaken to God's abundance of grace, to God's blessings showered upon us in so many ways, to God's challenge to die and rise with the Son of justice and peace. May this be a time for all of us to strengthen our relationship with God and each other, bringing renewed hope to our Church and world.

-- Joyce Ann Zimmerman, C.PP.S.

“Grace” is a wonderful word. It simply states the overwhelming power of God. My goal every morning is not only to awaken to Grace, but to awaken with Grace. Grace is also a great comfort given the times we are living through.

-- Stephen Crawford

I simply love the theme this year. When I was growing up, my mother used to say all the time that this was Grace and that was Grace. It seems that we do not hear as much about Grace anymore. I find as the years go by that I am recognizing Grace in events around my life more and more.

-- Mary Russo

"Awake to Grace" means to me: Listening to and Thanking God for His presence, now and forever."

-- John Shadwell

All too often I feel like I am sleepwalking through life. It is only when I shake myself awake that I really understand how much God loves me. I need to challenge myself to be open to God each and everyday. I need to keep the modern world’s influences out of my journey with God.

-- Peter Johnson

This year’s Congress theme, “Awake to Grace,” speaks to us as if an edict from God inspired by the Holy Spirit and demonstrated by Jesus throughout His lifetime calls us to a more persistent and constant prayer-filled life. A message which rouses us from the stupor of sleep, of apathy and boredom to a more spiritually fulfilling relationship with the Trinity and the people and world around us. A joyful and peaceful journey in which every moment is experienced with amazement and enriched with the wonders and beauty of the love of God, self, family, neighbor, the world around us and every living creature in it.

The Church teaches that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty from his works, by the natural light of human reason (cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2, § 1: DS 3026).

This human reason can be found in quiet prayer, study and reflection, as well as in the busyness of every day life; the noisiness of each other.

Prayer is the challenge through which the precious waters of grace flow to us, constantly and abundantly, from the loving Heart of God... Prayer is never useless; its spirit has the power to penetrate everywhere... Where there is misery or poverty, prayer brings life, grace, comfort and health... Its action is greater than a raging fire... The Spirit of prayer knows no obstacles, brooks no delays, and despises all danger. Its end is always the glory of God, the promotion of God's interests, the extension of God's reign, our personal holiness and the love of our neighbor... pray, pray always and incessantly... (Missionary Travels of Mother Cabrini, Panama to Buenos Aires, December 1895).

Prayer is the challenge to which we are called to live out the message of Jesus Christ through mutual respect and understanding. It is the true loving of one another as brothers and sisters of the same family on the same journey towards everlasting life. A call to step out of our comfort zone and confront our fears, and a willingness to reach out to one another in gestures of kindness and helpfulness no matter what the need or human condition. It is a life rooted in the love and example of the Holy Family. One in which it is okay to reach out for help and be helped with a genuine openness and acceptance, as well as be the helper. A family life in which prayer is encouraged and faithful to Mary the Mother of God, rooted especially in the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

In the words of St. Paul:

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

14 And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

15 And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians Chapter 3)

As Mother Cabrini tells us, "Consider often the graces constantly surrounding us through the immense goodness of God."

Consider the love of God, the wonder and beauty of God, of yourself, the human family and the world around you. Consider the many opportunities of grace in your daily interactions. Consider that you, by the mere fact of your inheritance in the kingdom of God are a special person; who is grace filled.

Consider, by Christ, Himself, YOU are called to “Awake to Grace.”

-- Phyllis R. Hernandez

Faith is God's gift to us. Grace is God's gift to wake us up and empower us as disciples.

-- Rev. John E. Hurley, C.S.P.

As a follower of Christ, I am called to awaken each day to the life of God -- God's grace, God's life within me is something that I try to be conscious of, aware of. I am called to open the eyes of my heart and awaken to the great gift of that Holy Presence given to me at my Baptism. I am also called to help others awaken to the life of God within themselves. This is no easy task in a world marked by great harshness and violence. "I have come that you might have life." May each day be received as a gift of God's awesome gift of life and goodness.

-- David Anderson

We Awake to Grace as we live intentionally the present moment. A simple smile, hug, kind word, thoughtful handwritten note - opens another to the grace of the moment. Being awaken to others graces us as we journey on this path to wholeness and holiness.

-- Anne Bryan Smollin

“Awake to Grace” means to me: Listening to and thanking God for His presence, now and forever.

-- John Shadwell

It is so exhilarating to have an "Ah ha!" moment -- that realization that God is present and active in the world and in the goodness of people. These epiphanies come to me often through stories told in movies, on television, and in books, newspapers and magazines. Well-told stories always change me in some way. Life is school and grace comes in many forms when I am most mindful how the divine is present in the world around me.

-- Rose Pacatte, FSP

Awake to Grace: Come out of your sleep, open your eyes and fully appreciate the light of Grace that God gives to you.

-- Peggy O'Neal-Kubachka
Early Childhood Education Advisory Board

When I first heard "Awake to Grace" I felt a refreshing feeling of peace. “Grace” is one of my all time favorite words. It's such a beautiful word! In the present state of the world today, with such little-to-no control of what is behind us, in front of us, and ahead of us, sometimes to see and feel the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ and just the pure awareness of His Grace and Mercy, you can't help but feel the awaking of Truth through the faith, belief, or hope that only God can give us. I rise to the challenge and occasion to "Awake to Grace."

-- Erin Surace Amendolare
Early Childhood Education Advisory Board

The importance of the Bible to our faith is that it is not just an explanation of who God is, but an invitation to discover God's love and concern and way of acting toward us in a genuinely personal relationship. We discover the gift of The Other's Himself to us. We were in the dark without God's self-revelation, and the Scriptures waken us to the wonder of what we really are in God's eyes. This in turn becomes the model to discover that the other people God has made and loved are grace for us, and an invitation to share and know the love of God with one another. We can add that the very diversity of the Scriptures, from Law to Letter to Love Song, means that we can find that grace in every aspect of our lives and in every place and situation.

-- Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P.

Searching, Awakening,
Welling, Living, Forging,
Believing, Sanctifying,

-- Brendan O'Reilly

If we are to wake up to Grace, shouldn't the theme be AWAKEN to Grace? I realize you're not going to change everything now, but I also hope I'm not the only one to comment on this. The only thing that would be more aggravating would be a misused apostrophe!

“Grammar Fiend”

It is a trying time, as my husband and our family wait to hear news of any change in my mother-in-law Dolores’ condition. She is in a coma after suffering a massive stroke. I wait and I pray. I get anxious and I pick up the phone. I go through my day, missing my long phone calls with her. I want to reach out and hold her hand, but she is far away, in intensive care in a Chicago hospital. And for those loved ones who visit daily, including her husband of 50 years, and my husband of 17 years, it is a place where time has stopped. What shall we pray for? A miraculous recovery, that she will awake to find her loved ones around her? Or that she will wake up in the halls of Heaven: free of pain, free of invasive procedures, free of the stroke that has left her unable to speak, to eat, to breathe on her own.

What I see as a result of the outpouring of prayers and support I receive from family and friends, is that God is with us; He is right here, holding our hands, wiping our tears, giving us the courage to not falter or fall in to fear. His Almighty GRACE rises us out of our grief and despair and allows us to let His plan happen. To me, this is what it means to Awake to Grace.

-- Bernadette Haderlein

What is “Grace”? It is the loving movement of God in our lives, the endearing and enduring presence of Unconditional Love. This Great Love is so persistent that the moment we wake up and are open to it, we are drawn into its embrace. Grace changes us when we receive it with awareness. Grace never gives up on us even when we have our backs turned to it. Grace waits daily at the door of our lives, circling our souls, wooing us home again and again. Grace is always present to us, drawing us to be the loving, whole human beings that Jesus envisioned. Awareness is the key. Openness is the door. Oneness with Unconditional Love is the home. Grace awaits our entrance.

-- Joyce Rupp, OSM

I wrote a song recently called "Grace." The song was written after reflecting upon Bill Huebsch's book, "A New Look At Grace," which inspired me to awake and open my eyes to the many blessings that surround and enrich my life each day. For me, it best puts into words my response to this year's Congress theme, "Awake to Grace."


Grace is lifting us higher and higher
Grace is filling our hearts with joy and hope
Always there for us to behold it
God's gift to us each day!

Through Grace from all of those who enfold us
By Grace the Word revealed to us in love
Always there for us to behold it
God’s gift to us
The gift to us
The gift we share each day!

Beckoning from dawn to dusk
The journey calls us on
The wonder of this road we walk
Can be lost within our eyes

Seeing without seeing
Feelings lost within the haze
Awaken us to feel your love
Though the gift of grace each day

-- John Burland

Plato said, "Be who you were meant to be." Far too often we “settle” for less; less than who we can be, less than what God has for us, just far less than is there. Grace is something that is not deserved. The Grace that God pours down on us to live the life that He has offered is undeserved, yet present. The Grace of salvation, freely offered by a God who loves us so passionately is undeserved yet present. The Grace of Love Divine, so undeserved at the Sacrament of the Altar, freely given, freely offered, so undeserved yet present. If we but knew, the gift that was given, the Love that was present, the life we could live -- there would be no boundaries, no walls, no hate, no judgment. It would be a life of Grace. Grace undeserved yet present.

-- Tammy Evevard

What is Grace? For me, it is the thing that has saved my life so many times: the Grace of God. How do we find Grace? Ask. Like so many things in life we need only to open our hearts to Christ and ask Him for them. God's Grace surrounds all of us in every aspect of our lives. The only hard part is truly becoming aware of that Grace..."Awakening" to it. It is a process that I will most likely being going through for my entire life. Trying to tell someone "how" to Awake to Grace is like trying to explain to your friend "why" their parent had to die. Seeking Grace is a "forever journey,” that I, for one, am excited to walk. So, what does "Awake to Grace" mean to me? It means to live my life ... in all that the word “live” entails. Walk in the knowledge of God's grace and surrender to it. We can only receive Grace through an open heart...a heart awakened and waiting for Christ's love.

-- Melissa Turner

St. Augustine once animated his congregation with his comment that we marvel at Christ feeding the multitudes with just a few loaves and fish, but we fail to see the great miracle of the seed which becomes the wheat. Miracles are not events that defy our humble capacity to explain, but an Awakening to Grace that enables us to see the hand of God in countless daily occurrences. May this year's Congress give us the eyes of faith to see God's handiwork, spirits full of gratitude for what we have seen, and hands and hearts ready to respond generously with our lives!

-- Timothy Matovina

If only we would take the time to slow down and just listen to what God is saying to us, to hear Him speak, to recognize those times when He has answered our pleas, and to "awaken to those moments of grace" He so freely gives us, then would we find true happiness and peace.

-- Connie Partch

As we recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Parish in Arlington, Va., the Los Angeles 2005 Congress theme “Awake to Grace” often came to mind. The theme reminded me of the Grace bestowed upon everyone, from all backgrounds, all over the world, today as well as yesterday and tomorrow. During these masses of Thanksgiving, I realized that God has been pouring down His Grace on each and every one in this parish. These Vietnamese people had the courage to leave their beloved country to seek freedom in the United States. Here, they have a new life and the freedom to worship their God and to practice their religion. We are all awake to the Grace that God had given to this small community. We also look toward the future with hope and love, and believe that God will continue to support and guide us as we grow in our faith and our love for God and others.

-- Mai Bui

In one African Catechism, the question "Why did God make you?" is responded to with the simple line: "Because He thought you just might like it." Being awake to Grace is having a sensitivity to the myriad of ways that you are being blessed each day. To do this we must have a spirit of "unlearning" which allows us to be open to seeing God's presence in new ways. After a tough day we are often plagued during our informal evening reflection as we fall asleep with a nagging sense that we have done something wrong or someone has wronged us. Instead of guilt or resentment though, being awake to God's Grace means that we must ask a question that moves us through these negative feelings. It is: "Where is God intriguing me to see Him in a new way in my life and in those who I have met?" This reframes the way we look at life and opens up the reflection to a place where "all things are made new."

-- Robert J. Wicks

To be Awake to Grace, one has to simply "expect” Grace to happen. When I am in a hurry and feel I need an extra pair of hands to accomplish something, I ask for God's grace and then simply expect it to happen. I invoke the indispensable motto that has trickled down through the wisdom of the bumper sticker "Expect a Miracle." And a miracle happens. Things don’t always happen in a way I would predict them to happen, and sometimes not even in the way I want them to happen, but Grace, that Providential force working miraculously in our lives, inevitably does "happen."

One of my most memorable experiences of expecting "Grace" occurred last spring. I was in the middle of preparing a Sunday preschool lesson plan and needed a bird's nest to bring to class. I was too exhausted to manage a trip to Sav-on to find the ubiquitous synthetic Easter grass (recommended by the teacher's manual) to fashion a bird's nest. I asked for God's Grace and expected it to happen. Half hoping for a real bird's nest to miraculously fall out of a tree, I picked up a set of empty boxes in the back hall and brought them out back to the recycling bin. On the way there, I noticed that one of the boxes – a Harry and David gift box -- contained stiff, brown shredded paper that had housed four perfect avocados sent by a friend. The avocados were gone, but the box retained the memory of their egg-like presence, forming four perfect nests. Being awake to grace meant simply taking notice of something that was always available. Something I had been tripping over all week.

-- Rosemarie Johnstone

Grace is what keeps us going in these times of personal, national and global stress.  It is the joy we are still able to find when we call upon our inner strength and those of others.

-- Mary McGee

A glorious sunset, a child's laughter, "I am with you" words of a friend in those difficult life times, the procession of the Body of Christ after reception of Eucharist. ... I have been aware of these grace moments.  But so many more I have missed!  May I, may we all, "Awake to Grace" as it surrounds us in the ordinary of our lives.

-- Rosemary Bleuher

Most people are asleep intellectually, and if they are asleep intellectually, they are asleep morally (for love of the good presupposes a knowledge of the good) and spiritually (one cannot be awake to grace but asleep according to nature, for grace presupposes nature).

-- Doug McManaman

At a time when our nation is at war, people fear terrorists, economic indicators look bleak in the face of a mounting $33-trillion deficit, we can easily get distracted from the truest part of our faith and of ourselves as people of God. “Awake to Grace” is a call to prophetically look beyond the fearful doom that surrounds us to the Grace-filled victory that engulfs us and to allow this victory manifested in daily works of God to inspire our lives.

-- Rev. Arturo J. Bañuelas, STD

Sums up what we, especially as Americans, need!  I really appreciated the postscript to explaining the theme.  Great Job!

-- Linda Filipi

The 2005 Congress theme, "Awake to Grace," is a unique opportunity for each of us to "wake up," grow in awareness. As we compassionately look at ourselves with our strengths, limitations and woundedness in doing so we are humanity, redeemed and filled with the Spirit which many call grace, love, etc. The key is in our "awakening." The promptings of the Spirit, the invitation of the Gospels, the prophetic voices of people of both past and present age invite us to "wake up." After over 2,000 years how much of humanity has awakened? The conditioned way of thinking, believing, behaving and acting has placed our planet in war, genocide, poverty, ongoing violence, racism. Yet there is something good in humanity that helps us rise above our conditioning to compassionate, selfless service to humanity.

-- Fr. Peter Gelfer, O.H.

GRACE: Grace is a gift from God, and this gift is His Son Jesus Christ who is our Savior and Lord. His Grace fills the world today just as it filled the world over 2,000 years ago. His Grace was first revealed to our Blessed Mother through St. Michael the Archangel when he said, "Hail Mary, full of Grace." We, too, are awakened with that "Grace" when we pray the Rosary and receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist. So as CATHOLICS, let us awaken to GRACE -- (God's Radiance and Christ's Existence) with, in, and through the Power of the HOLY SPIRIT who reigns with us, in us, through us, forever and ever. AMEN.

-- Bobby & Claudette Derricotte

Awaken to GRACE, and you will find the path to GOD within the frail walls of your humanness.
Awaken to GRACE, it is you alone who will lead yourself to HIS GRACE.
Awaken to GRACE, and you will awaken to GOD.
Isn't it strange, awakening to GRACE has something to do with the HOLY TRINITY.
Awakening to Myself, awakening to GOD, awakening to You, is what "AWAKENING TO GRACE" and the mystery of the CATHOLIC CHURCH is all about.

-- Bobby & Claudette Derricotte

First of all, I love this theme. How important it is for us to open ourselves to receive His Grace. Only through His Grace we come to know Him, to love Him and to recognize His unconditional love for us. Only through His Grace we are able to forgive, to love, and to serve His people. I'm ready for a weekend of Awakening to His Grace.

-- Mary Lam

Suggestion for a future theme:
Gathered in peace, ruled in justice, sheltered by God's radiant glory.

-- Mickey Sanders

The theme, for me, means a renewal of faith and reflections of God's sacrifices for our sins.
It also means being grateful for all the blessings we have and will be receiving from Him.
More importantly, restructuring our "friendship" with the Lord and rejuvenating our trust in Him.

-- Arlan Apolinares

In this busy, bustling world of materialistic pursuit, it is grand to have something to anchor us to our Eternal Journey.

-- Thomas T. Joyce

about the 2005 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress theme.


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