When the Year of Faith opened last October, Pope Benedict XVI invited the whole church into “a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.”
He later decided to vacate the chair of Peter and now pursues his own journey of reflection and rediscovery. The prayers of the entire Catholic world are with him on that journey. His prayers are undoubtedly with the rest of us as we follow the faith and move into our own unknown future.
Father Adolfo Nicolas, the superior general of the Jesuits, has, in response to Pope Benedict’s invitation to a Year of Faith, asked Jesuits worldwide this question: “What lights, shadows, challenges and opportunities do we see in our environment with regard to faith?”
And he followed that question with another: “What operative role does faith actually play in my life: for example, in my work; in the way I deal with difficulties; in the way I use time, resources, energy?” And he then extended that question by asking: “What do I experience as challenges or obstacles to faith, and what sustains and deepens my faith?”
Those questions are worthy of consideration by all Catholics and I’d like to provide some impetus for that reflection.
I think of religious faith as the act, the attitude, the mindset by which we entrust ourselves to God. In my view, faith and trust are twins. There is content to faith, of course. We make statements about who God is and what God has done in creation and throughout human history.
But propositional faith and attitudinal faith are different realities. There is no truth at all to that sing-song childhood chant, “seeing is believing; seeing is believing.”
You do not believe what you see; you know it. You have sensible experience of it and you just know. What you do not or cannot see, you can still believe (and thus know) on evidence given to you by another — a trustworthy other. In this case, you do not see, but you surely know.
For me, faith is indeed the act by which I entrust myself to God. I don’t have “faith in the future,” for example; my faith is in God.
One of the challenges to my faith is not classic atheism but what Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray many years ago identified as “atheism by distraction.” Given the achievements of science, technology and engineering that meet my needs for water, food, health care and national security, I am distracted away from a sense of my dependence on God. Hence, I become an atheist by distraction.
For me, the remedy for this is an abiding sense of gratitude. Building a spirituality based on gratitude is one way, by God’s grace, of deepening my faith.
So all of us can take an inventory of that for which we should be grateful and then let an attitude of gratitude — the awareness of being indebted to God who is the giver of all we possess — get to work within us to quietly deepen our faith.
Not a bad way to spend what’s left of this Year of Faith.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: An answer to non-Catholic son’s question, why is confession necessary?
NEXT: At first Angelus, Pope Francis says God never tires of forgiving
Share this story