Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Time to Leave the Half-Way House

The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us… The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: “We were buried ... with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).

Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).
Porta Fidei 6

Reflection – Well, the Year of Faith is approaching quickly – less than a month away now. What are you going to do about it? What’s happening in your diocese, your parish? Anything? Are you planning to plug into whatever’s going on, maybe even help out with it, or will you leave that for ‘someone else’ to do? It’s amazing to me how often people will ignore the events going on in their local church, but then turn around and complain that the Church does nothing for them…

Or maybe there really is not much going on in your parish or diocese, or you genuinely cannot participate. What are you going to do? The Year of Faith, as Pope Benedict expresses it above, is a call to an authentic and renewed conversion of life, to entering this radical new reality that completely reshapes the whole of human existence, completely purifies and transforms our thoughts, affections, mentality, conduct.

That’s quite an agenda for the year, and for our lives. Any takers? Do we want to have our whole existence reshaped? That’s the question, I think. We can get stuck, you know, in a sort of half-way house, if we’re not careful. Oh, we believe in Jesus… sort of. We believe in God… somewhat. We believe in the Catholic faith… well, let me get back to you about that.

So often we can have formal faith, the ritual assent of our minds to the Creed, say, but our minds and hearts and conduct are filled chock-full with all sorts of things that have no relationship to what we say we believe. This is such a common problem I’m tempted to say it’s universal. Nearly, anyhow.

And we can resist moving against this. We can hold on to the spurious wisdom of the world, to the cheap finery of conformity to the spirit of the age, to the fool’s gold of the false lessons we may have learned from our families and communities of origin. To abandon ourselves to the transformation of the mind and the heart – to truly subject every thought, every desire, every choice to the Spirit of Christ coming to us in faith, which we understand in our Catholic faith to be channelled by the faith, life, and teaching of the Church – this is radical stuff, and we don’t necessarily welcome it.

Well, this is what the Year of Faith is about. Time to examine the ‘truths’ we actually live by, as opposed to the truths we say we believe, and see if anything needs jettisoning. Time to look at our relationship with Christ and see just how vibrant and real it is for us, and do something about it if it has grown cold. Time to examine our conduct and repent of anything we might be doing that is inconsistent with the radical love and hope of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Time to grow in faith—that’s what the year is about. So… what are you going to do about it?

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