Posted by: Thomas Richard | September 19, 2012

Faith in the “Year of Faith”

When I read the Catechism description of the theological virtue of Faith, I am forced to conclude that we Catholics are not doing justice to the gift of faith given to us.  The Catechism has this, first of all:

Catechism 1814 – Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself.

OK – most Catholics would probably assent easily and quickly to that definition.  Catholics do believe in God, and we readily recognize the authority of the Church to preach and to teach in His name.  The Catechism continues, however, to include this also:

Catechism 1816 – The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.”<LG 42; cf. DH 14> Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”<Mt 10:32-33>

Hearing this, many Catholics whom I know would pause and look down to the floor.  I’ve heard too many Catholics, who have a beautiful and quiet relationship of faith with God, have to admit about their Catholic faith and their Catholic Church, “But I can’t explain it to anyone!”  They feel very awkward in trying to “confess Christ before men,” or giving “witness of the faith” that is “necessary for salvation.”  They would never want intentionally to “deny” Him before men!  But they are ill-prepared to “acknowledge” Him explicitly, clearly, intelligibly.

Yes, all these Catholics have received the Sacrament of Confirmation – with the grace needed to make one a witness of Christ before men!  Yes they receive Eucharist weekly, if not more frequently.  Yes they know the common and traditional prayers of the Church.  But they do not know the Catechism – they do not “know” in the sense of being able to state and explain it – our faith.  They are not at ease with the Bible, nor able to locate particular books quickly, nor able to quote or easily find important passages for the sake of witnessing to others.  They are not able to defend the Catholic faith when questioned or attacked by relatives or neighbors or “friends.”

The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross,…

These are strong words, and they expose a grave weakness in us: we are not able to do what we “must” do.  The faith among us in the Church is weak, and the challenges and attacks aimed at and assaulting us are growing in ferocity and strength.  What are we, the Church, doing about it?

In a recent address to the bishops of Colombia, the Pope listed several points of concern for bishops in this age of religious pluralism that is luring Catholics away from the Church:

  • Hence, it is about being better believers, more pious, affable and welcoming in our parishes and communities, so that no one will feel distant or excluded.
  • Catechesis must be promoted, giving special attention to young people and adults;
  • homilies must be carefully prepared, as well as
  • promoting the teaching of Catholic doctrine in schools and universities.
  • And all this to recover in the baptized a sense of belonging to the Church and to awaken in them the aspiration to share with others the joy of following Christ and of being members of his Mystical Body.
  • It is also important to appeal to the ecclesial tradition, to promote Marian spirituality and to take care of the rich devotional diversity.

Since he listed several of keen interest to me, I repeat them:  We need adult catechesis and formation in the faith!  We need more substantial and more fervent homilies!  We need to awaken the baptized!  We need to promote, enable, guide, strengthen, ignite the interior life of prayer in the faithful, as Mary our mother in Christ shows us!

The parable of the ten virgins seems especially relevant, at this time in church history:

Mt 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
Mt 25:2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
Mt 25:3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
Mt 25:4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
Mt 25:5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
Mt 25:6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Mt 25:7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.
Mt 25:8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
Mt 25:9 But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’
Mt 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.
Mt 25:11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’
Mt 25:12 But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Mt 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The darker the night grows – and the darkness is growing! – the more needed is the precious oil to give light.  Some have sufficiency for the night, but some do not.  In the mystery of this oil – this unction – this that burns with the light of Truth – we cannot give to another what they must gain for themselves.  Now is the time for Catholics to fill their hearts and souls with His precious oil!  May He help us awaken, while there is still time.

Thomas


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks so much for this new entry! It is the perfect “follow up” to the announcement of the new blog entitled “Court of the Gentiles: Seeking the Absolute”. The newer blog gives us an opportunity to reach out to those seeking and needing Him Whom they do not yet know.

    Reading and passing on the link to the newer blog intended more for non-Catholics, helps us to fulfill our mission given to the Church by Christ: ” Go, make disciples…” ( Mt. 28) and encourages us to continue growing in our own faith, hope and above all charity.

    We cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. The parable of the ten virgins included in your entry here, is a powerful one for all. May the Word of God find good soil in each of us that it may take root, grow, and produce fruit, as it did in Mary.

    May Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, intercede for us, especially during this Year of Faith, that like her, we may bring the Light of Christ into a dark world.

  2. Maybe we could propose for all Catholics to buy and read and meditate on the CCC, Years ago, a priest asked me to read and meditate on parts of it as penance that made me buy the book.

    Another thing that divides and confuses many Catholics is that priests and religious themselves are divided on critical issues such as reproductive health and same-sex relationships… I have witnessed this on national TV a week ago. So there…

    Much prayer is needed these days… but I do not fret. The darker the night, the more brightly His light shines.

    God bless!

    • Dear meejay,

      Thanks so much for your comment. You are in perfect agreement with Pope Benedict XVI who has suggested the reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as one of the best ways to grow during this Year of Faith. He chose Oct. 11 as the opening date for the Year of Faith because it is the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. The CCC is the catechism of Vatican II.

      Yes, many among clergy, religious and laity do not know the fullness of Truth in the teachings of the Catholic Church and can confuse others with their own opinions. We need to be able to discern Truth from erroneous opinions by learning ourselves, from Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium ( teaching authority) of the Church.

      Absolutely, the need for prayer is crucial. God tells us not to worry but He also tells us: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation”. ( Mt 26:41 and Mk 14:38) The First Letter of John is especially important for us in this regard: ” Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. ” (1John 4:1)

    • Hello meejay,

      If only the Catechism were widely read, discussed and understood! Maybe we would have less division among Catholics, if it were more clear to more Catholics just what the Church believes and teaches and what we all are called to live.

      • Hello Meejay,
        I must piggy back on your comment because the confusion I was receiving amongst the teaching of the clergey is the reason I left the church for a couple of years. The worst part of this…the whole time I had three versions of the CCC in my home. The full, the compendium, and Essential CCC. Did I once pick it up and see what the magesterium teaches…NO! Puffed up with pride I walked out the church after Mass and decided to rethink my faith path. Only after attending a Protestant church for a year and hearing theological inaccuracies did I pick up the book. Honestly, again, I had never read the full version of the CCC. I mean 800 pages, who wants to read that, yet God in his grace worked perfectly. I randomly open the CCC on page that speaks of the sacraments and how they give us the that sacntifying grace to go through life. It spoke about an imperfect institution made holy by the grace of Christ. “WOW! What have I turned my back on I thought?” I read about twelve pages and it all was giving glory to God. How did I fall for the Protestant lie? “Pride is the root of all sin,” says Father Larry Richards. I got out of hand and know something had to be done.

        May God’s Peace Be With You!

        TImothy

      • Thomas, I see great potential in this comment of yours:

        “If only the Catechism were widely read, discussed and understood! Maybe we would have less division among Catholics, if it were more clear to more Catholics just what the Church believes and teaches and what we all are called to live.”.

        However, it would definitely mean that we would have to do our best, individually and collectively, to always listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit instead of relying on what we THINK Jesus is saying..

        Mary

  3. Thomas, greetings…

    I believe it was about 50 years ago that I first read this and I was so taken by it that I copied it and saved it:

    Catechism of he Catholic Church:

    Above all – Charity

    25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:

    The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.

    Mary

  4. Thomas, ..
    I just came across this in my ‘saved treasures’ collection.
    Since so many people really like this I decided to post it.

    Saint Paul: Eph 3:14-21

    Brothers and sisters: I kneel before the Father,
    from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
    that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
    to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
    and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
    that you, rooted and grounded in love,
    may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
    what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
    and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
    so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
    by the power at work within us,
    to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
    to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    Mary

  5. Thanks, Thomas – very pertinent points, especially in this day and age. The Year of Faith is invaluable, and I for one am finding deep riches in the daily readings of the Catechism.

    • I pray that this Year of Faith be the occasion of a great and beautiful deepening of Catholic Faith around the world.


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