She’s A Five Letter Religious Word

An author wrote, “I believe that there is flowing through us – those on earth, those in purgatory, and those who have reached true life – a great, unending stream made up of the sufferings, merits, and love of everyone, and that our least sorrow, our slightest efforts, can through [this five letter word] reach others, whether near or far, and bring them light, peace, and holiness.”

If you’re into crossword puzzles, here’s a puzzler for you. It’s five letters, works both “across” or “down,” as life would have it and, if it were possible, could even be spelled in-between; including the black boxes.

It’s a favorite word in the Church, but I don’t think we speak it enough in our daily lives. I sincerely know that we experience it. The Church, in its sometimes efforts to be anal, tries to divide it into two, not to better understand it but as an attempt to control it. Sorry Church leaders, this five-letter word cannot be controlled, managed, rationed, saved or counted. It is adverb, verb, adjective, proper noun, noun.

All three of the Trinity have and continue to experience her. (I switched from “it” to “her” because of the feminine nature.) When it comes to raising children, mothers rely on her even if never using her name. Fathers trust her for her strength. Both parents trust that she can deliver patience to trying situations in raising children. Alternatively, also in their own personal developments.

Like trying to count ants on your sidewalk, most churches get even more anal in trying to define her, not into two but eight different ways. Their eight-tried attempt is called actual, gratuitous, habitual, justifying, sacramental, healing, sufficient, and sanctifying.
However, those words are for those who need to write a school’s term paper, not for living a meaningful, holy life. She is meant for us folks who need her daily, who look for her often. If it’s written “across” the crossword puzzle, then it means “steady as life goes,” complete with our characters’ firmly in tact supported by her resilience. Scripture would call this “staying on the right path.” If she’s spelled in the “down” column then it’s what Scripture writes, “lest you dash your foot against a stone,” or “you stumble and fall” as we all happen to do. We need to be picked up by her and then fill in the “across” column.
Experiencing her is not only personal but communal. She’s contagious. We gather here for our private prayer before Mass begins and leave this place as the Body of Christ. To continue the living of the Body of Christ in what the Church calls the “marketplace.” For us lay folks, that means work, home, family and friends.

You will not find her crossword puzzle solution in tomorrow’s newspaper. You can only find her right in front of you and deeply embedded, and undyingly, breathing within you.

Enough of the tease. Can you guess who she is? Can you estimate what she is? Can you surmise where she is? Can you approximate what she does for each of us every, single day? Can you reckon why she does what she does?

She is entirely adverb, verb, adjective, proper noun, noun.

“Grace gracefully walks into the dining room and graces us with her graciousness before offering God a graceful prayer of Grace in her own, unique gracious way.”

(stage direction: the priest graciously walks away.)


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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1 Response to She’s A Five Letter Religious Word

  1. Rita Michel says:

    Hi, Fr. Joe –

    Loved your post – I got half way through it before I started thinking “grace” – one of your favorite subjects.


    Sent from my iPad



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