Faith is a theological virtue freely given at Baptism. Faith is believing in God even though you do not see Him. Faith must be defended, cultivated and shared with others if faith is to persevere in our lives.
Do you still have faith?
Jesus said: “When the Son of man comes many will lose faith and charity will grow cold in many hearts.” If you still do have faith, be exceedingly thankful for this precious and gratuitous gift. Maybe it would be a good spiritual exercise to simply wind back the clock and see many that practiced the faith with you—maybe many of your relatives. Now, for some reason, many of these same people do not have faith, but you do!
Why is this the case that you might be among the few that have faith; whereas, the huge majority have lost faith? Is it because there is something innately good about you and me, or due to our keen intelligence, our wit and charm or maybe due to our good looks that we have faith and others do not? Just why? Indeed this is a mystery of God’s infinite goodness.
Before tooting our horn or patting ourselves on the back, we should be keenly aware of the hard truth: any of us who, at present have faith in God, in the Lord Jesus, and in the Church, that we could also be among those who in the future could lose our faith.
What then should we do so as to maintain our faith, sustain or faith, grow in our faith and if you like be faithful till the end? What might be the course that we can undertake to be faithful to the end? Remember that the race is not over until the finish line has been crossed!
The following suggestions can help us to guard that precious gem that was given to many of us—faith in God, faith in Jesus the Lord, faith in His mystical Body that we call the Church.
1. A dynamic, vibrant and growing prayer life
The late Father John Hardon, S.J. made this observation: “Those who lost their faith often were those who abandoned the practice of prayer.” This stands to reason! Why? For this simple reason: to pray is an act of faith.
When we pray, we do not see the God to whom we are addressing our words. Our God is a mysterious and a hidden God; our God is invisible to the physical eyes that perceive all the physical reality that bombards the senses. For this reason Jesus gently rebuked Thomas the doubter: “Thomas you believe because you see. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” May the doubt of Saint Thomas the Apostle strengthen our weak and faltering faith!
Every day of our life we should strive to pray a little bit more and better. This indeed will be a safeguard for us to avoid losing our faith.
2. Beggars before the Lord
Why not pray this short but powerful prayer: “Lord I believe, but strengthen my belief.” Jesus told us: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.” (Mt. 7:7) We should never be afraid to become a beggar before the Lord and implore Him to give us a robust and dynamic faith!
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once commented that very few people have ever left the faith for what the Church really teaches but rather for what they think the Church teaches. In other words, many leave the Church and lose their faith for erroneous concepts of what the Church teaches. Due to an all-pervasive ignorance and lack of knowledge of the divine, and a poor catechesis many abandon the practice of the faith.
If you want to grow in your faith and avoid losing it, then you must study your faith.
One suggestion: read, study and learn the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Beyond a shadow of a doubt this text is one of the most important and influential spiritual masterpieces published in the past fifty years under the guidance and pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II.
You cannot fall in love with what you do not know. Reading, studying and living the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be a wellspring of knowledge and grace for maintaining a dynamic and flourishing faith.
4. Practice your faith
There is a modern proverb, used by many people today, that’s applicable to this concept: “If you do not use it than you will lose it.” Musical talents, athletic prowess, literary expressions, linguistic perfection, culinary skills—all of these demand a constant effort to keep them up to the mark of approval! Likewise, with the growth of our faith; we must practice it.
Some ways that we can practice our faith are many:
- a) Prayer. The habit of personal, common, and liturgical prayer—all of this bolsters faith;
- b) The sign of the cross. By making the sign of the cross we are professing in a corporal manner our belief in the greatest mystery of our Catholic faith—the Blessed Trinity;
- c) The genuflection. By performing a reverential and pious genuflection you are manifesting your belief and adoration for Jesus who is truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament;
- d) The Most Holy Eucharist in Holy Communion. By receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, this is the greatest act of faith we can make by receiving in faith the Real and true Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion;
- e) AMEN. By saying the word AMEN we are professing our belief in what we say, that the Lord Jesus is truly the Bread of Life, the Bread of the angels that came to give us life and life in abundance.
5. Share your faith with others
In the material realm, when we give something to others then we become impoverished. I give you $20 and I am $20 poorer.
In the spiritual realm, this is not the case. Rather, if I teach catechism, preach a homily, preach a mission, explain to somebody how to pray, explain in detail the ten commandments to somebody who has a poorly formed conscience—in all of these cases, as the person that receives enrichment from this sharing, I also am being enriched by sharing my spiritual treasures.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to another is to share our faith; this is one of the highest forms of charity. Indeed there is more joy in giving that in receiving and this can be applied to the sharing of the faith.
Therefore, let us humbly thank God for the gift of faith the He has so generously given to us, but let us defend our faith, cultivate our faith and share our faith and pray that we will be faithful until the end!