Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three 'Best Bets' For The Year Of Faith

Each Sunday we meet in the sanctuary. We proceed and line up like lemmings one by one receiving something that we pay no mind to. And upon receiving this significant gift we forget about it as quick as it was placed in our hands. Would anyone like to give a suggestion of what I’m talking about?

My dreadful guess is that you are thinking:

The Eucharist/The Body of Christ /Holy Communion

The Eucharist?! No, not at all – We as faithful Catholics know that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith! I was talking about the church bulletin!

Now read that again in context:

Each Sunday we meet in the sanctuary. We proceed and line up like lemmings one by one receiving something that we pay no mind to. And upon receiving this significant gift we forget about it as quick as it was placed in our hands (the preferred way to receive Holy Communion is on the tongue BTW).

The only way you could have mistakenly thought I was talking about the Eucharist is if really deep down you knew that the majority of Catholics did not believe in the real presence. And I believe your assumption is right(specifically after seeing the results of 'catholic' voting) . Polls show consecutively that only 30% of Catholics in the United States go to mass regularly. This is a tragedy. This is a disease. The majority among that 30% has little grasp of what the Church teaches. This is also a tragedy. This is also a disease. But the key to recovering from the fist disease is to heal the second disease. I would like to purpose that the cure for this disease is to be found on the front of my church bulletin:

 Know Your Faith, Live Your Faith, Share Your Faith.  This is the medicine we can offer as lay people:

Know Your Faith

St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Jeremiah 29:13 says,“You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart”. Jesus puts it this way in Luke 11:9-10 “And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” In our modern time of instant knowledge we have no excuse for not knowing out faith. We do not have to go to any drastic measure to ask, seek, or knock - no it’s just a click away. We have every resource and every imaged type of media at the tip of our fingers and yet we are ignorant of our faith. Those scriptures told us God is pleased when we seek truth- not become experts. No one likes a know it all. God is pleased when we are seeking to learn our faith. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” If that is true, ask yourselves, “Why do I have sports statics memorized but I can’t explain the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of reconciliation? Why am I an expert on hunting and fishing but cannot understand what the church teaches about contraception. Why am I an expert about American Idol but can't hold a conversation about the church’s teaching on Marian dogma?” St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” I would also submit that ignorance of Church teaching is also ignorance of Christ because the Church is the Body of Christ, therefore when the church speaks, it’s with Christ’ voice.

Live Your Faith

Fulton Sheen once said, “It is easy to find truth; it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.” I would like to focus living our faith when no one is watching, when no one can “watch us walk” but God. Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” We see clearly that what we do in secret matters to God. What are some things that we do negatively in secret? What do we lose sleep over? What haven’t we been able to come to grips with? Is it alcohol? Medication? Pornography? Anger? Overly worrying about worldly things? Yelling at your children? Gambling? Purchasing things without telling your wife? Over eating? What is your secret vice? What are you ashamed of? What is it for the life of you that you cant you stop doing? I know you’re probably starting to get defensively right about now. Don’t worry its natural. You’re thinking, “What business is it of yours what I struggle with? I go to mass, I tithe, I volunteer, I pray. I’m not hurting anyone. Butt out.” This analogy might help. As law abounding drivers, we have to follow certain laws that apply to driving. If we break these laws, we could injury other drivers. If we choose to run a red light, we could crash into another vehicle. But in addition to following laws we also have to get our cars inspected once a year. We can follow the law all day long but it is to no avail if our own personal cars are not worthy of the highway. This is why we have to examining our own conscience and get it inspected at least once a year in the confessional. Personally, I struggle with lust and looking at things which I’m not supposed to. Hey I’m not here talking about it because it’s an enjoyable subject- in fact it’s a quite touchy subject- no pun intended. I’m here as your brother telling you its OK to admit your vices. It’s the only way we are going to beat them. We will either accuse ourselves or excuse ourselves. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. Before we can be cured we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it. C.S. Lewis says, “I find a good many people have been bothered by Our Lord's words, "Be ye perfect." Some people seem to think this means "Unless you are perfect, I will not help you"; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant "The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less."

Share Your Faith

Time after time I have stressed the importance of sharing the Gospel with our actions. In football terms: this is offensive. Evangelization is offensive. Apologetics is defensive. We are really familiar with the word Evangelization but sometimes the word apologetics slips under our radar. The standard scripture for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Are you prepared to make a defense of your faith? We  have a great opportunity to do just that in our everyday lives: at work, at home, on social media, at the store, at the bus stop. But remember it says do it with “gentleness.” We are Christ ambassadors, not his debate champions. It’s the Holy Spirit who converts souls.

I would like to leave you with a reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul was writing a community who were seeking to learn their faith, live their faith, and share their faith. We to are a community who are seeking to learn our faith, live our faith, and share our faith. Let’s for a second pretend like Paul is writing to only us in this community.

In Colossians 3:1-17 Paul tells us:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.* In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As we enter this "Year of Faith" make every effort to do these three things: Know Your Faith, Live Your Faith, Share Your Faith

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