Robert John Gaudet
Robert John Gaudet maintains the grace of God abounds in our lives even when we fail to recognize it.
What prevents us from seeing God's presence is busyness and our constant preoccupation with material things, he says.
But as far as Gaudet is concerned, "God's grace is real, it's present and it is there for us to experience."
Speaking at the Charismatic Prayer Breakfast Sept. 8, Gaudet, a chemical engineer and management consultant, gave examples of how God becomes present in his life on a daily basis. More than 100 people attended the breakfast at Chateau Louis Conference Centre.
Gaudet and his wife Marisol Martinez are members of our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park, where they help in the faith formation of new Catholics.
The couple married in the Church in 2006 after getting their first marriages annulled. They recently completed six years as RCIA catechists, moving on to work in other ministries at their parish.
In working through the RCIA, Gaudet and Marisol kept asking catechumens and sponsors to share their experience of God's grace in their daily lives.
"The more we focused on this, the more God's grace showed up in our lives too," Gaudet said at the breakfast, his wife looking on from the audience.
Recognizing and thanking God for this bounty when facing a close call driving to work or church was not a regular part of Gaudet's life. Getting angry with the other driver was his normal reaction.
But when he started to respond to life's issues around him instead of reacting to them, his life was transformed.
"Responding to the driver that cut me off meant offering a prayer on the spot to God for having avoided a collision and praying that the other driver gets to their destination safely," he said. "What's in it for me? A calmness, an understanding, a passionate response to people, a peacefulness."
When traveling to Nicaragua in 2009 to attend the funeral of his wife's dad, the couple missed their connection to Managua in Houston. "Through the grace of God, a few passengers took a later flight so that we could get to Nicaragua that same evening."
When Gaudet's own dad got sick and was in hospital a few months later, God's grace was at work again. His father had always said he couldn't see himself in a seniors' home or being wheelchair bound, unable to care for himself.
As soon as Gaudet anointed him from head to toe with holy water, his agitated dad calmed down and died within two hours, all thanks to "the power of God and the beauty of his grace."
The couple walked the Camino de Santiago in 2010, over 790 km of pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostello, Spain, where the bones of St. James the Apostle are reportedly buried.
During this journey, free of distractions and strongly focused on living the moment, Gaudet and Marisol experienced "amazing displays of God's grace" for all 35 days walking with their possessions on their backs.
The day they ran of laundry soap, a man giving away a large bar of soap approached them. As Gaudet started to cut the large bar in half to save some for later, someone else approached who needed laundry soap.
On day 35 of the walk, Marisol suffered with shin splits and was in pain. An ambulance drove past them and they paid no attention. When they arrived in the next village, they saw the ambulance parked in the town square.
Marisol approached it and the personnel took her backpack to the next hostel they would stay that night. What a relief! The alternative was to drive her there too, which she didn't want.
"God provides what is required, when it is required, always," Gaudet said. "It's not easy for us to see that in our daily lives when we are so wrapped up in the material things of this world."
On another occasion, Gaudet's ankle started to hurt. By the end of the day he was limping. He thought he would not be able to continue the walk unless he did something that evening. At 8:45 p.m., following dinner, the couple walked to the pharmacy. The sign on the door said closed at 8 p.m.
However the door was still open as members of the pharmacist's family were visiting, sitting on a few chairs and talking.
"We walked in and the pharmacist welcomed us and found the right ankle support that fit me," Gaudet recalled. "Thanks be to God that he took good care of us during that walk as he does each day."
A more recent example that God's grace is still there for Gaudet is a car crash that totalled his SUV without significant injury to himself. His first words after the accident were, "Thanks be to God."
For what? "For keeping me and the other driver safe," he replied.