Of the many things that St. Paul is known for, one of them is the virtue of perseverance. If you take some time to read through the Acts of the Apostles, you can find many stories that where Paul faced a number of challenges, beginning with his conversion story when he was struck blind. (Acts 9) Paul was thrown in prison more than once, and in his letters, we learn that he also took up the task of keeping his friends on solid moral grounding. Through all the trials, Paul persevered in his love and devotion in Christ.
Perseverance is defined as steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose. It means staying on course even when challenges or difficulties arise. In his letters, Paul makes it clear that it is God’s grace that enables him to persevere and to work hard to be what God called him to be. It wasn’t Paul’s efforts but God’s life and strength within him. Grace was very important to Paul. He talks about it over 100 times in his letters and starts every letter with the greeting, “Grace to you . . .”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace as: “favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons [and daughters], partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (CCC, #1996)
How grace works is a mystery and often, a miracle. It is grace that touches us when we grieve and when we excel, when we work hard and when we find joy in another’s accomplishment. St. Paul’s story as a Christian reminds us how grace might look, but each of us receives God’s grace in different ways. The miracle of grace is that we receive it without asking and, possibly, when we most need it. If we allow God to work in our lives through prayer and through our Catholic community, we will be even more aware and open to the grace that God grants.