"Grace is the initiative of God..." God is the one who puts grace into action. He gives himself in the form of grace before we are able to approach him.
The life of a Christian is full of choices - choosing good over evil, again and again in a multitude of situations. This life is not for the faint of heart, for choosing good often comes at a cost. From a human perspective, we make these choices with our free will. In many cases, we are pleased with ourselves for "doing the right thing" rather than being grateful to Jesus for the grace to help us choose good.
Sister Maria challenges us. She says that "prior to any kind of movement towards him" - to good - God must initiate the action through grace.
We cannot do it alone.
When we choose to have patience rather than lose our temper, it is an act of the will only made possible by the grace of God. If he does not offer himself in this way, we are unable to make that choice.
Free will proceeded by the grace of God makes moral decisions possible.
In our lives as victims, choices were made for us. Evil was chosen over good. As humans, our abusers had free will and they chose evil over good. We just happened to be the object of their choice for evil.
God's grace was available to them. In that moment when they chose to betray a sacred trust, they could have called upon God for help to control themselves and taken that grace that was so freely available to him. But they didn't. Why? Only they and God know. I imagine a perpetrator's selfish desires are so overpowering and their egos so huge that God is the last thing that enters their mind.
Often we ask, "God, why did you let this happen?"
Sometimes we will be given the "all things work for the glory of God" line, or perhaps "God can bring good out of evil." While these things may be objectively true, God was only part of the equation. Free will was the other part.
God gave us the gift of free will when he created us. He loves us so much that he gives us the freedom to choose. He will never force himself on us.
He won't even force a priest to stop hurting a someone. I can only imagine the pain it must cause the Lord as he watches evil perpetrated upon the most innocent of his children, and by men who serve in his name. How much worse can it get? How much sadness can this choice of man's free will cause our Lord?
Perhaps we feel the grieving of Jesus in our spirits in addition to our own. We mourn the loss of innocence. Our hearts wrench in pain. Only Jesus can touch that woundedness within with the grace he so freely gives.
Grace is a gift of God. Healing is a gift of God. The Holy Spirit is the gift of God.
Let us pray for one another that we are able to receive the gifts that our Lord extends to us today and always.