REFLECTION: Transmitting faith PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 November 2011 15:09

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

Faith is, of course, a supernatural gift to us, given by God in ways that defy understanding. But since it concerns us, we have to realize there are things we need to do to make that faith take root in our lives, grow to maturity, and spread out to other people.

We have to realize then that we have a duty to transmit faith to the others, and to help them keep that faith vibrant and fruitful. Faith can never just be an individual, isolated affair. It too has a social aspect. In fact, it needs to be shared and to animate our culture, since it is supposed to cover all aspects of our life.

Obviously, to be effective in this business, we should not only talk about faith. We have to walk the talk. We really have to live it and incarnate it consistently.    One way or another, it has to show externally, and the others should be able to see it, and admire and love it eventually, making it their own as well.

Only then can faith be understood, loved and lived by the others. Faith is not just a collection of doctrine nor a smart intellectual exercise. Much less is it only about classes, lectures and modules. It’s about life of love with God and with everybody else.

For this to happen, we can cite at least three things that are needed. One is to develop a true life of piety. Faith cannot prosper unless its seed falls on the fertile ground of piety.

Piety is the attitude that corresponds to the deepest longing we have in our heart. We realize that we need to be attached to someone higher than us. Thus, we can have first of all a filial piety toward our parents, then to other people whom we truly love. Ultimately, we should realize we need to have a piety toward God.

This piety is expressed in deeds—praying, doing acts of worship, and other related acts or gestures like making sacrifices, pilgrimages, fasting and abstinence, going to the sacraments—all of which happening in the heart and tilting us toward God. These should be like our breathing, or the beating of the heart, a second nature to us.

A second point would be the need for doctrine. Piety without doctrine is a dangerous situation, prone to superstitions and other abuses. We have to understand that doctrine is for us the path to know and love God more and more.

Doctrine is not just a body of ideas and theories. The doctrine of our faith is life itself in the context of love. It is God himself, who is at once the source, the substance and standard of life and love. We should never reduce doctrine to mere ideas, words and theories.

We should spread this doctrine as widely as possible, seeing to it that the study of doctrine should be within the context of love of God and others. It should never be converted into a mere intellectual affair that would surely empty it of its living substance, leaving only a shell.

We need to be active in studying and teaching catechism, and in following closely the Church magisterium as expressed in the words of the Holy Father and the bishops in union with the Pope. When we study doctrine, we should get to know Christ better. When we teach or preach it, we should be able to show Christ to others.

A third point would be the lifelong development of virtues. When piety and doctrine do not produce virtues, there would be something terribly wrong in our understanding and life of faith.

Faith by definition is always transformative. It will always have an effect in a manner much more effective than what a most potent medicine can do to heal us of a certain sickness.

So, a man of faith will always be a man of virtues, especially charity that includes everything else that is good and perfecting in us. Faith can be shown when we have patience, temperance, fortitude, prudence, justice, humility, etc.

In the work of apostolate and evangelization that we should be doing and where faith is transmitted, it’s important that we manage to really befriend everyone, listening to them, adapting ourselves to them, and gently leading them with gift of tongues to Christ.

We have to remember that this business of transmitting faith is a most intimate affair, where freedom has to be respected all the time, and a lot of patience and sacrifice are required.