Things to be careful about
Our Christian faith is very deep and wide. But we have the temptation to narrow it down. Here are a few points to be careful with.
Be careful not to get stuck in fideism. Fideism is the refusal to get to know better the faith. Here we just say yes and yes without trying to understand what it is we are believing in. We are humans and we are capable to deepening our faith. Let us study more.
Be careful not to get stuck in intellectualism. In intellectualism faith is only classroom stuff. It is only an academic affair. Of course we need to study the faith but we also have to recognize that faith is more than classroom thinking. It touches on life.
Be careful not to get stuck in sentimentalism. Many people like emotional activities and they look at faith as an opportunity to get very emotional. Yes, faith can include feelings and affections but faith is more than these.
Be careful not to get stuck in quietism. In quietism we say that faith is purely inside the church it has nothing to do with the concrete moral and social questions of life. Of course faith is also in the church but it touches on all aspects of life and faith can question our moral and social positions.
Be careful not to get caught in moralism. In moralism we always look for where people make mistakes. We look for where people are bad. We might use faith to judge too much others and impose on them rules and norms that will only make them unhappy. Faith is liberating and should make us happy, not miserable.
Be careful not to gat caught in angelism. In angelism we think that God does everything we have no more participation. We just wait for God to do things for us. Yes, we rely on God but we have our roles to play too.
Faith of the Community
Our faith is the faith of the community, the Church. Yes, we must accept that our faith is personal. Each of us is responsible for the faith. But faith is not private, it is not mine alone. Sometimes we have the temptation to think that faith is a private affair. But no. Faith is the faith of the Church, it is a shared faith, a community faith.
When we pray “I believe” we must remember it is also a “we believe”. If we say, “I have faith” we also mean “we have faith”.
Remember that God communicated himself to a people—the Hebrew nation in the Old Testament. He communicated himself in Christ to the Apostles and disciples. When St. Paul received the revelation of Christ he still had to verify it with the Apostles. He never took that revelation privately.
Human authors put in writing that self-communication of God to his people. And when the human authors wrote they were also thinking of the faith of their communities. Even Scriptures are community based. They were written from the context of the community and they were written for the community.
God continues to communicate this time through the Scriptures and the Church. Of course we do not rule out the possibility of God speaking directly to individual persons. But even there the revelation will still have to be confirmed in the Church. In Lourdes when the Mother Mary revealed to Bernadette, Mother Mary still made sure that Bernadette went to the priest to make the revelation “official” for the Church.
Let us talk about our faith as adult faith. We understand that for children the faith is transmitted without critical thinking. Children are formed by catechism and family tradition, they accept and accept whatever is transmitted to them. But then the day comes when we all become adult. Faith therefore also becomes faith of adults.
For the adult faith becomes more personal. (Again, we repeat, it is personal but not private.) Each of us, as adult, lives the faith personally. Each is responsible for the faith. Each takes charge of the faith and makes the effort to grow in the faith. It is a commitment of each and every one of us. This is why we say that there is a personal side to adult faith.
For the adult faith consists of a growing trust and confidence in God. The adult knows how he/she is related to God and how much God cares. Adult faith readily recognizes this care of God. The adult then is more trustful and confident that God never abandons his people.
This trust and confidence in God is done in the company of the whole Church. Adult faith is concerned about the faith of the whole Church. The adult is more willing to participate in the needs of the Church—in a small scale or large scale. The adult does not give up on the Church, knowing that in the Church we need the support of one another. Faith is lived with God in the Church.
For the adult faith marks daily life. Daily life makes sense and meaning thanks to faith. The events, choices and decisions are influenced by a perspective on faith. The daily life struggles are not empty struggles. They are understood in the light of faith.
Adult faith includes the effort to understand better the basis of faith. The adult wants to grow in understanding. The adult is not stagnant. The adult updates himself/herself with Scriptures and Church teachings. Adult faith is not lazy faith.
Adult faith consults faith when making hard choices and decisions. For example when confronted with a tough situation an adult will ask what Jesus would do in that situation. What will be the stand of the Church with that situation. Hard decisions are made with the help of the faith.
Adult faith is prayerful. The adult spends time in personal—and communal (like the Mass)—prayer. In prayer there is a face-to-face communication with God. In prayer we address God as a “you”, we talk to God. Adult faith is willing to spend quality time on this. Daily life can be busy but the adult knows the importance of breaking that busy-ness for prayer.
Adult faith is happy faith. It is celebrating. It is thankful for the faith. It holds no grudges. Although life can be hard, the adult in faith has the thankful attitude of having received faith transmitted by the Scriptures and the Church. The adult in faith is thankful for not having missed the grace of having heard the Word of God, the grace of being in the Church and the grace of having the Lord God in Jesus as God.