"Grace is perhaps the most important aspect of our faith. Part of the evidence is that it has been the theology of grace over which church leaders have disagreed for centuries: Is the grace of God sufficient that we are saved by faith alone? Or is grace such, that in order to obtain it, we must also perform good works in order to be saved?
"Does grace have the power to change us interiorly, permanently, or essentially? Or does it merely cover over our sinful natures, which remain sinful, despite the presence of grace? Is grace something given freely by God to all? Or is it meted only to those who fulfill certain prescriptions of the law? Is it really possible for a person to lose grace completely? How could a person who has lost grace go on living?
"Most people wouldn't know what to say if someone wanted them to define grace. Most people, if they thought about it much, would appear not to be affected on a day-to-day basis by grace, whatever it is. Most people, if push came to shove, would take their chances with the mercy of God rather than relying on what they perceive to be arcane theology. Most people, if it stood right before them, wouldn't have the faintest idea what grace even is or what it means to experience it or even what it all has to do with their faith.
"Grace eludes our grasp and our understanding and our academic probing and pursuit. It is radically present in our lives, yet it cannot be touched or even seen. And the minute we try to capture grace, to corner the market on it, it seems to disappear into thin air. No explanation is sufficient.
"In this way, grace is just like being human. Who could adequately define what that means? We could give a scientific explanation, defining the cells and impulses of the body, or we could even make a beginning in understanding the brain. But who can define the Mind? Who can explain the Human Spirit? Who could describe Personality? Who can touch the Soul?
"Human beings, us: We stand constantly at the very edge of mystery. Our whole lives open into a kind of endlessness, a horizon reaching beyond our sight. We are always reaching another threshold on that horizon, yet we never reach the end of human potential. We jump farther, run faster, discover more, probe farther into space, and every year find yet another horizon.
"It is as though we stand on the edge of a great primeval forest looking out across a great, unexplored, sunlit savannah: Dare we venture out into that unknown? Dare we not?
"But as we stand on the edge of that mystery, the edge of that endless horizon of discovery, of energy, of love and laughter, we do not stand there alone. Deep within our spirit, buried in our bones, kept as a secret in our hearts, is a greater mystery yet, an energetic mystery that both draws us toward it and is the source of our power to proceed. We don't know much about this other mysterious force except that it seems sure to be there."