posted on August 29, 2012 10:59
From Pope Benedict XVI:
“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us,
ushering us into the life of communion with God
and offering entry into his Church” (Porta Fidei, no. 1).
Faith is an interesting word. When most people hear the word faith, they probably think of what they learned in grade school. The Creed, recited each Sunday at Mass, might come to mind. For some, the awareness of what Catholics believe might be mixed with a list of things they wonder about or don’t understand. Some might feel out of touch with faith altogether, the hustle and bustle of life or the struggle to survive in today’s financially volatile economy having taken over the larger part of their time.
St. Paul would completely understand. He often spoke of how God was opening the door for the preaching of the Gospel. He was adept at seeing how God could get into people’s hearts and fill their deepest emptiness. When God opened the door, things began to happen. The phrase “opening the door of faith,” referred to by Benedict XVI in the document that announced the Year of Faith, speaks to us of abundant opportunities and great progress. If we allow it, something might just happen this year to wake up the faith of believers! The door is always open for us, and God is not just inviting, but ushering us into the great joy of believing.
What is faith, anyway?
One way to break open the concept of faith is to think of two people who are searching for each other. When two friends are attempting to get in touch, they try to make contact by phone, Facebook, email, or text message. They rearrange schedules so they can find a time to meet. They realize that if their relationship is to grow, they would benefit from time spent together, getting to know each other. Friends want to please each other with that perfect gift on a special occasion, and to be there for each other during times of tragedy or sorrow. Faith is like this. Faith is God’s searching for us and our searching for God (cf. United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 109).
Often when someone comes to me with an unexplainable hunch that there is something more to life or that somehow they are being taken care of, I will tell them, “God is lovingly searching for you right now. This is where this hunch comes from. This is what you were made for.” I can never forget a woman whom I spoke with often while her friend was dying outside of the Church. The hospice nurses could not explain why her friend was still alive, yet her friend kept talking about a party she was invited to but not ready to attend. She knew all the people who would be at the party and what was going to be served, but she wasn’t ready to go and she didn’t know why. Ah! This is the delicacy and protective love of a God who wouldn’t let her draw her last breath until she was ready. She did indeed make her peace with God before he came to take her to the eternal banquet.
Once I gave a talk at a juvenile detention center for boys under 18. I asked them, “Who here has had an experience of God’s presence?” There was an immediate sense of awkwardness in the room and no one raised their hand. “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” I said, “this is what we were made for, to know and be known by the Father in heaven. Certainly someone in this room has known the love of God for him once in his life.” The hands began to go up throughout the room. Whether or not these kids knew what I was talking about, they realized that there was something more to life, even if they couldn’t name it. Faith is like that.
What makes us desire to believe in God?
“God has stamped in our souls a longing for himself. We are born with a longing for the divine that cannot be satisfied by anyone or anything short of God. We are created to be seekers for the absolute love, which is God” (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 109).
It is this “stamp,” this seal set on our hearts by God himself at our conception, which makes us become seekers for the “more,” which can only be God. At some point in our lives we realize that we aren’t satisfied with what we are or what we have, and we start out on the journey to find something to make us happy. As St. Augustine says, we won’t be happy till we discover Happiness itself! It is this journey that we want to reignite in the Year of Faith, not because it is the Year of Faith, but rather because this will make both us and God happy. We will find each other anew, know each other more deeply, and spend precious time together. This year invites us to build our life and our faith on the foundation of God’s fidelity to us.
What do we get out of believing?
This journey of faith leads us to a greater sense of our own fragility, of our vulnerability, of our being guests in this life, of the unsteadiness of our journeying. It also leads us to immerse ourselves in the silent immensity of the Divine, and to discover there the truest reality: the acknowledgment that we have the right to nothing and at the same time are the recipient of everything. Faith is a gracious, reverential embrace in which we and God enter into communion, made even closer through the reception of the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
Faith answers our need for belonging. As the support of the family erodes in our society, we yearn to know that we will be safe, that someone cares about us, that there will be someone there to catch us if we need help. Faith is the acknowledgment of a Love that is present in every moment of our lives, no matter what happens—a Love that accepts us as we are and redeems us because we are so much more than we understand ourselves to be. Through faith we become all that God has always intended for us, rather than what we are sometimes forced to be in a fallen and broken world. Faith is about being accepted as we are into a relationship that changes us into what God desires us to be.
Share what you have deepened about your faith with a child: click here.
Also see the attached files below for intermediate children and teens. Reproducibles for primary age children click here.