(The Year of Faith will give) “renewed energy to the mission of the whole church to lead men and women out of the desert they often are in and toward the place of life: friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life.”
Pope Benedict XVI – October 16, 2011 (Catholic News Service)
One of the really wonderful things about teaching high school students is the enthusiasm for faith that they possess. Young people are ready to go and make a difference in the world. They are ready to devote their lives to an idea or a worthwhile mission. Why so? Maybe it is because young people have less to lose, and more to gain by taking risks. As we get older, we become brittle and attached to many things. The young haven’t arrived at that juncture just yet. They have the potential to possess great faith. But do we, the “responsible adults” in their lives, demonstrate great faith? In this year of faith, are we willing to recover this most precious of gifts: our faith?
Faith is challenged, and often weakened by life’s struggles. Our world is full of evils, tragedies, and sufferings. In our encounter with tragedy and death, we can choose to distance ourselves from God, because we mistrust his motives. We encounter a skeptical intellectual culture, which does not allow for the unproven, and attacks even things that can be understood with a reasonable amount of proof. It is hard to claim faith in an intellectual climate which rejects it before the discussion begins. We can even push God away out of shame for our own moral failings, or because of neglect of spiritual disciplines. This is not to even count the ways in which our busy world burdens our time, and makes our prayer life disappear.
Indeed, we may find ourselves in the desert of faith. Not only is this a trial for “unbelievers”, but also for long-established believers, who are tired and worn. The good news is that we can receive faith anew, because it is a gift. God is the giver of the virtue of faith. If we ask God, then surely the God who loves us will increase our faith. God is listening! He is not distant, nor does God want to remain an utter mystery to us. Yes, God is mystery, but God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into our world to reveal God to us. God is still present through the Church, and in the hearts of believers. If, in this year of Faith 2013, we make an effort to read the Scriptures, and receive the Sacraments. these things can heal our broken faith. But the first step is to ask in honesty for faith as a gift.
While faith is discouraged by some as a fairy tale, faith is power. When we have faith, then we open up a door for God to work within and through us. Do we make our prayers with faith? Do we go to Confession? Do we receive the Eucharist with faith in the True Presence? Do we read the Bible as inerrant Word of God? Do we believe that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, or just another book? Do we believe in the infallible teaching of the Church? Do we believe in the Church’s teachings, and strive to understand them, even when they are hard to accept?
Can we allow ourselves to be challenged by faith? If we can, then we can receive its many fruits. Have we not seen some of the fruits of faith in our own lives? Has not God miraculously filled us with charity, healing, hope, and certainty in the past? Has God not brought impossible situations to the good for us? Have we not been aided to survive the most difficult, painful, and grief filled moments of life? Has God not filled us with amazing, awe-filled moments of joy and love? Yes, if we can see with the eyes of faith, we can recall such moments in our lives.
Do not be afraid, at the beginning of the Year of Faith 2013, to allow faith to be your answer. Sometimes, even often times, it is the only answer. That is ok. Spread the Word of faith to the broken-hearted: God has come to save us.