Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Credo: Why I Believe

In my last blog I gave a rational explanation for what faith is.  Today I would like to give a personal account of why I have faith.

 First I believe because I myself have questioned and doubted.  I have grappled with every question in my life and have found that only the Catholic Church has satisfactory answers for me.  In many ways I really do sympathize with those who struggle to believe.  There are a lot of difficult situations out there.  There are a lot of personal experiences we can have that make it hard for us to accept the answers given by the Catholic Church.  I completely get why there are certain Church teachings that are hard to swallow.  I get it and in many ways do not blame people for not accepting them.  But most of the time people don’t accept them because they either don’t fully understand them or simply because they are unwilling to change the way they live their lives.  The answers are there, we just need to truly seek them out.

 Secondly, I believe because I am broken and need the power of Christ in my life.  I can honestly say I do not judge people who live a lifestyle I disagree with.  God knows I have done plenty of things I am not proud of and would probably be living in a way contrary to what I believe if it weren’t for the grace of God.  There are so many self-help books out there that try to tell us that “we can do it.”  Or that “the power to succeed is within us and we just need to tap into it.”  The truth is, WE cannot do it.  We do not have the ability to succeed or overcome obstacles on our own.  It is only Christ in us that can.  We need grace.  People are absolutely right in saying that it is ridiculous for the Church to expect a married couple to not use contraception in this day in age or for someone who struggles with homosexuality to spend the rest of his life alone.  But they are wrong when they say the Church expects THEM to.  The Church expects them to rely on CHRIST to do that for them.  “It is not I but Christ who lives in me.”  It was not me who made it to my wedding night a virgin.  It was Christ pouring His graces on us that allowed us to make it.  It is not I who has not resorted to the use of contraception in our marriage; it is Christ walking in us by the power of His Spirit.  It is not I who refuses to look at pornography; it is Christ in me that gives me the grace to refrain.  Every sin and temptation I have struggled with in my life has only been overcome by the grace of God.  We all need God’s grace.  I am not above falling.  I am still nothing more than a sinner.  It is Christ who uses me in spite of my failings.  That is faith.  Faith is what takes over where our natural powers and abilities leave of.  Faith is allowing Christ into our natural world and allowing Him to sanctify it.  This is easier said than done and takes a lot of trust.  So if this is not where you are at, I get it and understand.  I challenge you to simply say pray every single day this simple prayer of Peter’s, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”  Or even more simply, “Lord please increase my faith.”

 Lastly, I believe because I have met Christ.  I do not see Jesus as an idea but a person.  He is my best friend.  I have studied and come to understand, although not fully, who He truly is and not some idea I made up.   If he is a real person and I can trust him then I have no choice but to abandon myself to His will.  If I really trust who He is then I have no choice but to believe everything He teaches.  I put my trust in my friends and parents but that is putting trust in finite and fallible people.  It makes more sense to put my trust in a perfect and infinite being.  So many people will say, I think Jesus was a good man and had some good ideas but I just don’t believe He was the son of God.  Well if he was not the son of God he was a bad man and not a good man because he would have lied to many people and convinced them he was.  A liar cannot be a good man.  A liar would not die for his life.  If Jesus was telling the truth then He becomes someone we can trust above anyone else. When we begin to do this we can begin to form a relationship with Him.  When we do this we will fall in love with Him.  The only natural response to this love will be obedience to His teachings and His Church.  It is not about rules.  It is about relationship.   Think about it, every relationship has “rules” and boundaries.  If we don’t follow them, then the relationship suffers.  However, rules without relationship are pointless.  If we want true faith we have to have true relationship!
If you are Catholic but really struggle with things the Church teaches or have fallen away I encourage you to do the following:
1.  Come home and get involved in your parish.  Surround yourself with a community of people that can help you on your journey.
2.  Study.  Read and ask questions of people that are well versed in Theology and Philosophy.
3.  Be open to the answers you will recieve through your study.
4. Pray: The simple prayers listed above but also try and take some time in silence every day.  Even if it is just 5 mintues.  Unplug and I bet you will eventually start to hear God's voice
5. Go to the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession as often as possible.
This journey is not easy but it is one that makes our lives truly worth living!

1 comment:

I once met a girl named Maria said...

interesting. and refreshingly rational.