The “door of faith” (Acts ) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22).
To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.
Porta Fidei 1
Reflection – The Holy Father has declared a ‘Year of Faith’, to begin on
October 11, 2012, the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and to last until November 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.
I will feature over these next months, in order, the complete document announcing this year, Porta Fidei, as a way of helping us all prepare our minds and hearts for what God wants to give us and for what the Church is asking us to do and be for this year.
Here in the first paragraph we see the basic presentation of what faith is and what it does laid out in a compact, dense package. Because it is so dense, every phrase so packed with meaning, it may be worth breaking it down a bit, going through it somewhat slowly, so as not to miss what’s being said here. I may take a couple days just with this first paragraph, then.
The “door of faith” (Acts ) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. So first, we see faith as a ‘door’, as an entryway into a new reality. The new reality is communion with God and membership in the Church. Faith opens up this new reality for us—our communion with God does not just happen automatically or by virtue of natural processes: it is through faith, and is bound up with our entry into the Church. Right away here we see that the whole business is a matter of relationships, of some kind of exchange of persons. Faith is, in its essence, a sort of conversation that brings us to a new level of knowledge about reality. This new knowledge of faith then changes our relationship both to God and to humanity.
It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. God starts the conversation, in other words. Faith comes from the proclamation of the word of God, and its reception by the human heart. But even this human reception of the word is a result of transforming grace. Faith right away, then, is a matter of ceding the center of gravity of our being from our own selves and our limited human way of thinking and acting towards God. His word, and especially the words and deeds of Jesus Christ, opens up the divine level of reality to us, and his grace, the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit, makes it possible for that word to find a home in us.
To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. This door of faith does not, then, simply lead us into a simple room where we are at once at home in our happy destination. Rather, it is a door leading us on a pilgrimage. Instead of being a door into a house, we might say it is a door taking us out of the house into the Great Outdoors.
This is actually very significant. We are all, at the beginning, ‘Inside’. Inside our our humanity, its limitations, its narrowly conscribed dimensions. God’s word and the grace of the Spirit lure us out of this nice and cosy, but rather cramped, house. Come away, O human child, Yeats’ fairies call to the unwary. God calls out similarly to us: come out, come out, wherever you are. Come out of human caution and human prudence, human thinking and human loving.
Come outside and play. It’s a beautiful Day. And so the door of faith swings open, and we unwary ones (made unwary by the Spirit’s gift) run out into the wild adventure of life.To be continued…