Faith, a gift from God

Hans von Balthasar says that “Faith is the fundamental response to the love that has offered itself up for me.”  That love is God giving up his Son so that we might have eternal life. That love is Christ crucified.  I believe that God offered up his love for me, just as he did for you.   In thinking about that love intellectually, it is beyond our grasp.  Most of us have experienced love in our lives, both given and received, but even those who profess to love us unconditionally and want nothing but our happiness let us down.  God never lets us down.  He never takes away the visible and real reminder of his love, which is Jesus, broken and poured out in the Eucharist for us.  Matthew 8:26

God does not demand we have faith, he offers it to us as a gift, we choose to accept it or not. People who profess no faith usually fall into two categories:  they do not need faith or they are afraid to accept it. Others want faith; seeing in people of faith something that they do not have in their own lives.  But they know that by accepting the gift, there are responsibilities that come with the gift of faith.  Changes would have to be made and possibly difficult choices, so instead of accepting faith they are adrift, constantly trying to fill the emptiness.  As St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless, Lord until they rest in thee.”

In Hebrews 11:1 we read that “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” None of us can see the future, but we can trust and rely on God to guide us in our lives, no matter what happens.  Too often, we use our faith to get us through the bad times, not remembering that God wants to be with us in the good times as well.  Jesus died for us, that is TRUTH.  But he also rose for us.  It is in that rising from the dead that faith of the Apostles grew and changed, eventually, the Holy Spirit came down and gave them the power to move in that faith.  His resurrection is what we have faith in because in that action he gives us new life.  The cross tells us that we must die to self, but once we do we are raised to a new life of faith far greater than the one we gave up on our cross.

Faith gives us strength and the ability to grow into the persons God meant for us to be.  Each of us has a purpose, we are told, that “No one lights a candle and hides it under a bushel basket.” Faith is not meant only for your good, but for the good of others. To thank him for that gift I accept I do what I can to not only grow my faith but to share it with others.

Faith is the ability to see God at work in this world; to believe in a power much bigger than you.  With faith the impossible becomes possible.  It is faith that gives us the courage to bring children into this world. The desire to walk with another on their life’s journey is part of faith.  It is the strength in our soul to say yes when every other part of us is screaming no.  Sometimes faith means trusting just enough to get out of bed believing that God will clear a path, knowing that when I fall, he will lift me up.  Faith also gives us the ability to question the nuts and bolts of our religious beliefs and practices, knowing that God is there in those details and wants us to come to him using our intellect as much as our soul.

Scripture Verses quoted:

“If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30

‘He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” Matthew 8:26

 

the not lukewarm challengeOur challenge this week is to write down each day, one thing to give to God for Him to take care of instead of worrying about it.

Not Lukewarm, a new podcast with Deanna Bartalini

Not Lukewarm, a new podcast with Deanna Bartalini – There are many voices asking to be heard in this world today. Some are the voices of those we know and love – family and friends, those we serve in ministry, those we care about. There are other voices as well – cultural icons, sports figures, politicians, clergy, authors – all asking us for our time so that they can tell us their point of view and possibly sway us to what they believe.

I am not here to sway anyone into what I believe. I am here to tell you what the Church teaches and how I live it out in my daily life. I live it out as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, aunt, friend, teacher, seeker of truth, beauty and goodness, sometimes saint and sometimes sinner; but always focusing my eyes on Jesus. Except when I can’t face him because I’ve fallen into that last category. Then I ask forgiveness and remember God’s mercy and know that keeping my eyes on Jesus is the most important thing.

For many years, I have served in both paid and volunteer ministry in the Church, mostly in Florida where I moved to after college graduation. My faith is not something that has sustained me only recently, it has been my rock and my fortress for as long as I can remember. As a child, my two favorite places were my local Catholic church and the library. In truth, just add a great coffee shop to the list and you’ve got my top three places today.

Has my faith been tested? Yes and no. You see, my father was always fond of reminding us that everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, clergy included. So, when scandals hit, I was sad and angry. But I knew that it was not God’s fault. I was able to help hurt and confused parents when the bishop was forced to leave the diocese right after he had confirmed their children and then again when the same thing happened after my son’s confirmation.

When my friends have died too soon, leaving husbands without wife and children without mothers, I have mourned but stood fast and helped them embrace their cross as I did mine and move from life into eternal life.

There have been more trials but those are not the only things that have formed me. I was formed by Franciscan priests and brothers, countless orders of sisters, and a few Jesuits. I have learned through books and life experiences; in classrooms giving and receiving instruction; through bible studies and discussion groups.

I cannot count or name all those who I have helped come into the Catholic Church. And I know, that while I may have supplied information, it was the Spirit that led each person. Did every parent keep bringing their child to Mass after First Communion or every youth or adult continue in the faith after their Baptism or Confirmation? I don’t think so.

My goal in this podcast is to give you a glimpse of what it means to be Catholic. Maybe you are seeking answers or clarity. Maybe you want to re-learn the lessons you have forgotten. Maybe you are from the generations who learned little in the aftermath of Vatican II and now you want to know what you didn’t learn. Whatever your reason, join me on the journey.

 

This week your challenge is to pray a morning offering when you wake up. It can be as simple as, “God, I offer you all that I think, do and say today. Please be with me always.”

Here are some other options:
from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops
from Our Catholic Prayers