Question 1

Q1. What difference has the Year of Grace made in your life?

While some responded to this question in negative terms (see below), the vast majority, wrote positively.

Sometimes these were in very personal terms:

  • It has marked the year of my return to my church, the love of God and the church has come back into my life
  • I have become properly reconciled to the church and performed my first confession with a priest for about 35 years
  • I'm learning more about Catholicism and how it’s not the Big Bad Guy that a whole bunch of Evangelicals (i.e., the former me) thinks it is.
  • It has freed me from sin.
  • It kept me going
  • After years of quiet suffering with mental illness I have really felt God’s grace at work in my life over the last year. I am living more independently, I feel much more of a sense of purpose and hope.
  • Healed my relationship with my father. I have been able to forgive my father after many years of having bitterness and anger towards him. My faith in God is deeper.
  • It has made me stop and think more about what is important to myself and my family
  • I have reconnected more faithfully to the Catholic Church.

More aware of moments of Grace in my life

Many people wrote in terms such as the following:

  • A much greater focus on Jesus and what he said and did
  • The Year of Grace has made me more prayerful
  • The beautiful Jesus prayer card has reinforced and helped my prayer and given me more peace, direction, encouragement and support in daily life.
  • It was the catalyst that made me reconnect to meditative and contemplative prayer again. I feel a new commitment to this type of prayer.
  • Provided a focus for my faith life
  • Confirmed my ministry as a gaol chaplain.

Here is a representative sample of other responses:

  • It has helped me to be more patient and hopeful as I have seen people focused on starting from Christ in several different ways- retreats, E-Conferences, reflection days
  • Reflecting on what grace means; realising gifts that come my way; a bond within Australia
  • Encouraged me to reflect on what I can contribute to my church community.
  • Made me stop and focus on Grace in my life. I have returned to regular spiritual and scripture reading and reflection
  • It has made me appreciate how very fortunate I am to live where I do. I am blessed with a vibrant parish and a chance to use my gifts and talents to the full.
  • It enabled me to slow down and appreciate God’s gifts every day.
  • It gave me the God lens through which to view the world around me.
  • Woke me from my spiritual slumber.
  • It has increased my prayer time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • It made me more aware of the "face of Jesus" in the many faces of people I meet every day.
  • In a non-threatening way, it has meant a greater commitment to prayer and listening to the Lord.
  • Encouraged me to nurture faith through prayer, scripture, acts of kindness
  • I have found the power of the spirit in my life as I do acolyte and Communion to the sick duties.
  • I have loved the prayers and the icon of Jesus with one eyebrow raised.
  • Made me more aware of the everyday things God has given me as opposed to taking each day for granted. Reminded me of the gift my children, husband, sisters and brothers are to me.
  • It has provided great resources... and another opportunity to get to know Jesus better.
  • It has provided a renewed focus on the Church and the advocacy of its evangelizing mission

Thank you.

Some also expressed thanks and appreciation to the Bishops:

  • To designate a Year for the church as a Year of Grace was very encouraging to me and I believe a work of the Holy Spirit. Thank you to the Bishops for responding to the prompting of the Spirit.

As we will see later, many responses came from people involved in various forms of ministry in the Church. It is clear too that some of the respondents are teachers:

  • The Year of Grace has provided a focus in my life, both professionally and personally. I work in a Catholic Secondary College in the faith and mission field.
  • Prayer has been a stronger focus; everyday, personally and with my school community.
  • Unification of a common goal with like-minded teachers.
  • It made, us a College, treasure the gifts of our community

As we will see more in later questions, some also referred, generically or specifically, to the issues being addressed by the Royal Commission, both positively and negatively:

  • The issue of child abuse which rocks our Church today made me more aware that truly I'm a member of this Body of Christ because I am scandalized, hurt and pity her (church). And because of this issue I want to help her regain her integrity and purity. I have become more involved in what is happening in the Church than before.
  • It has made me far more aware of God's grace and the need to pray for our nation, and our church in Australia at a time of distress, as we "sow in tears".
  • Total loss of trust – loss of faith in Church
  • We cannot achieve on our own but only through grace
  • I looked forward to it so much – so much – and all the events of the Commission have destroyed my faith.

As we will see later, some are stressing doctrine, orthodoxy, devotion, etc., while others wish the emphasis on these things to be reduced:

  • Very little, sadly. The doctrine is often very watered down in [… this …] diocese. We need to be informed about sin, the value of the Mass, Purgatory, Confession, the Rosary etc. I believe Jesus is asking that we return to true devotion and respect to the Blessed Sacrament and His Church.
  • I was disturbed by efforts of some people to try to return to the piety and prayers of the 1940's. I have tried to encourage any groups I work with to try to pray the Scriptures.
  • I am disillusioned with the absence of changes in the Catholic Church.

As mentioned at the beginning, approximately 20% of respondents answered this first question in negative terms, from simply blunt (Absolutely Nothing, None, Nil, Little to Zero) to apologetically blunt (Very little I must confess, None, Sorry, None that I know of).