October 2, 2010 – Love of Faith

Well I was going to begin by bragging on the stretch of beautiful fall weather that we have been having, and just as I begin it starts to sprinkle.  Oh well, in life a little rain must fall.  It certainly was a beautiful week, and next week appears to be more of the same.  Good stuff.

This past Wednesday we had parish council meeting.  As always it was a very good meeting with discussion of various topics.  But as you know our evening does not end when we get up from the meeting table, as we take time to enjoy a few refreshments and some informal conversation.  After we had spent an hour or so deep in church conversation, you would think that the conversation afterward would switch to something else, but we wound up sharing stories and memories of the dearly departed Fr. Joe Sense and the old “trail” church, including the dog patroling the aisleway and the 20 minute Masses.

I talk a lot about the meetings I attend and workshops I participate in such as the funeral rites workshop a few weeks back.  I will be the first to admit that I am not the most devout Catholic there is and I am certainly not an expert on religion.  However, I can say that over the years I have developed a deep love for my faith, and it inspires me when I get to spend time with people who share that same deep love.

At the same time it frustrates me when I observe people who do not share that same deep love of the faith.  People who do not attend Mass on a regular basis.  People who do not value religious education for their kids.  People who turn away from God during the tough times.  People who blame God when bad things happen.  People who do not believe that there is still life even after our time on earth is completed.  My initial frustration tells me “What is it that people are not getting?”, “What is keeping them from grasping the importance of having faith in their life?”.    Then my frustration turns to the church and I think to myself “What is the hierarchy doing wrong?  Should we re-think the church’s stances on issues such as clerical celebacy, clerical marriage, and the prevention of allowing women to be priests?  Should we re-examine our stance on social life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty?”

My frustration then turns to all of the outside influences such as the media.  Pedophilia is unfortunately a major problem in all corners of society and religion, but why does it seem that the Catholic Church receives the most scrutiny?  Why does the media do stories proclaiming women as “priests” even though they have not been ordained and have not been recognized as such by the church?  And why is it so easy to attain access to inappropriate materials such as pornography?

I can go on and on, but the bottom line is that there are many forces at work that can put barriers up between people and their faith life.  So how can we tear these barriers down?  Let me count the ways.  But there are several obvious things that any of us can do and that we can offer to people:

Knowledge – I will always maintain that the more people know about their faith, the greater appreciation that they will gain for it.  People don’t just want to know what is being done or said, but why things are done or said.  With the internet and what seems to be thousands of channels of news and investigative programming, there is a lot of misinformation out there.  We need to steer people in the direction of accuracy, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and websites such as the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Invitations – We have talked about this before, but there may be folks out there who do not feel welcome to the faith because they have not been invited to it.  A personal invitation can go a long way.

Sharing With Our Kids – One of the reasons I love my faith is the long tradition of passing on the faith to the future generations.  It is now our task to step forward and do what our forefathers did for us and be witnesses for the future generations of Catholics.  The number of people who claim themselves as Catholics has risen in recent years due to the continued growth of our population, but I’m not sure you can tell that by peering in the church door or seeing the number of clergy that are currently serving.

These are just a few ways that we can knock these barriers down, and I’m sure there are many others.  When I write my blogs, I try not to make them sound too “preachy” and I try to keep them light-hearted.  I hope the tone of this blog came through the way I intended.  I dearly love my religion, so much so that I want others to be able to share the experiences I have had, and the sense of purpose I have gained in being a follower of God.

Some people may think that they need to witness a miracle in order to find their religion, and those who saw the Rams actually win a game last week certainly saw one.  Can we make it 2 in a row?  I HAVE FAITH!  GO SAM!

Have another great autumn week.  Peace.

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