Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Faith ... what it is

This is the talk I gave to the RCIA class at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church on Sat., Sept. 29. I've edited it a bit for privacy's sake. 

I want to share something with you today that I wish I’d known when I was where you are today in the RCIA process and it is this – faith is not something you find, it is not something given to you.
Faith is a deliberate movement of the will. It is moving your will to align with God’s will. This is a continuous, deliberate and conscious choice that you make.

Faith also requires several things of us. First, it requires revelation, which you each have experienced in different ways, or you wouldn’t be here. And God willing, that revelation will continue throughout your life in what I like to call your faith journey.

142 By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company."1The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

Second, it requires submission of the intellect and will to God. Again, faith is a deliberate movement of the will.

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.2 With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".3

Next, faith requires obedience. Now, obedience is a word we don’t like to hear these days and in this world. Obedience has become synonymous with following rules and being told what you can and cannot do. However, true obedience is a product of love, not coercion. Think about the things you have faith in – for most of us, we have (or at least had) faith in the love of our parents or other family members. We couldn’t prove it – couldn’t put our finger on it or hold it in your hand, but you just knew. You knew those people loved you. I think about this with my kids – even my son with autism who has a real hard time with understanding emotions, even he knows I love him even though he doesn’t know why. The same is vice verse. They may not always act like it, but I freely submit to the truth of their love for me.

144 To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to "hear or listen to") in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.

Lastly, faith requires trust. Trust is another word that is loaded with meaning in this world. Some of us are actually taught to not trust anyone else, to trust only yourself. Not only is this no way to live, you can’t have faith in God without trust in God.

Let me share with you a little about my life and faith journey. I was raised Catholic, Catholic in name only that is. I was baptized but that was really it. My parents are a product of the ‘60s and reflect the disillusionment that happened to many young people during that time. They raised my sister and I to follow our feelings, to question authority and to trust no one but yourself. It was a very relativistic mindset. 

I was told to find my place in this world and I spent years and years looking for it. Deep in my heart was a yearning for faith, so I looked everywhere – the Baptist church, Methodist church, a little of the occult – but I couldn’t find the answer to my searching.

Finally by the time I was in my late 20s, I thought I’d found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and when that didn’t work out I was crushed physically and mentally and I absolutely refused to let it go.So, we were “just friends” for a while and during the entire course of our relationship he actually helped me a lot. 

He was a non-Christian, and I was fascinated by his faith and how it formed and shaped his days and life in general. It was he who told me to start my faith foundation with what I knew, with where it began as a child. So I did.

I joined RCIA, and it was great. But I still struggled the whole time with what this meant for my life. Where was I supposed to go from here? No one else I knew was Catholic, let alone faithful. And, well, the answer came in the form of the greatest gift from God – my son.

I offer this somewhat cautionary tale to help you understand that your faith life, your faith, will only happen and grow when you submit your will to God’s. And you’re already doing that by being here. Just remember that faith is a continual process, not something you have once and that’s that. It is ever-growing expression of God’s revelation, God’s will, obedience to that will and trust in God.

Italicized text from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Copyright me 2012  Don't plagiarize, for the Lord is just even if you're not.

No comments:

Post a Comment