Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Growing in our faith

WE need to understand that as the very beginning of our life with God, our life in the Spirit which is a supernatural life more than just a natural life, our Christian faith has to be taken care of, nourished and developed to full maturity.

We need to be more aware of this duty and develop the appropriate attitude and skill to carry out this responsibility effectively. We have to go beyond mere good intentions or being merely theoretical in order to be truly practical and vitally engaged with this obligation.

Faith is a tremendous gift from God who starts to share with us what he has, what he knows about himself and about ourselves. It gives us the global picture of reality, covering both the temporal and the eternal, the material and the spiritual, the natural and supernatural dimensions of our life.

It is what gives permanent value to our passing concerns, the ultimate, constant and unifying standard to all the variables of our life. The perishable things of life can attain an imperishable quality when infused with faith. What is merely earthly and mundane can have a sanctifying effect when done with faith.

By its very dynamics, it prepares us for a life of charity which is how our life ought to be. It is also nourished and is the effect of charity, indicating to us that faith is organically united to charity, the very essence of God in whose image and likeness we are.

Besides, given the character of journeying of our earthly life, faith is also what nourishes our hope, that principle that enables us to move on before all kinds of possible situations and predicaments we can encounter in our life. It gives us the reason, the basis, and the vital impulses of our hope.

Faith contains the medicine and the remedy to all our spiritual inadequacies and illnesses. It is what is required for miracles to happen, as attested many times in the Gospel.

As a gift from God who spares nothing to give himself to us completely, faith is a seed planted in our soul especially during the sacrament of baptism. Parts of it or the whole of it may come to us in some other mysterious ways known only to God.

That seed obviously need to be watered and cultivated diligently by us both individually and collectively, both personally and ecclesially. We have to pause and reflect on what practical consequences this need of our faith can have.

There is certainly a need to know the content of our faith. We have to study and meditate on the gospel, the catechism and other sources. We have to be attentive to the teachings of the Church magisterium who is empowered and guaranteed by Christ to teach the faith with authority and with infallibility.

God’s living word as expressed in the psalms, for example, gives us vivid and beautiful glimpses of what could be in the mind and heart of God before all kinds of situation.

There we can see God’s wisdom, power, justice and mercy, his prudence and patience, his tenderness and fortitude. We need to be familiar with the attitude and behavior of God as illustrated there.

To capture all this, we need to be humble and docile. The things of God cannot enter into our mind and heart, much less, get assimilated into our life if pride and vanity rule our life.

We should be eager to ask for more faith, and to make many acts of faith. This is a fundamental attitude to have. Let’s follow the example of the apostles who said: “Lord, increase our faith.” (Lk 17,5) Also the father of a possessed boy who said: “I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.” (Mk 9,24)

Let’s also remember that to grow in faith we have to be willing to exert a lot of effort and to make sacrifices. We have to understand that with faith we are dealing with spiritual and supernatural realities that do not come easy when we simply rely on our senses and feelings. Discipline and self-denial are required.

Especially these days when many people, not only the young but also the older ones, are hooked to all types of distractions and subtle forms of addiction—work, play and fun, games—we need to exert heroic effort to spend time in prayer, study and meditation.

Of course, faith can take root deeply in our life if we don’t just study it, but also act on it. Our faith should be converted into action, into life itself!

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