Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Growing in Faith: Challenges of Vatican Council II for Today


Faith transcends all conceptual analysis. Faith is human being’s inner relation to ultimate reality which is articulated in beliefs. The intellect alone is unable to comprehend the mystery of faith. The simple faith of believers does not lead to fideism, which means blind submission to the deity in an inhuman and irrational approach to utter childishness. The Catholic Church has always condemned fideism, which could end in subjectivism, sentimentalism, fanaticism, superstition, and obscurantism.

Every Christian is called to live in obedience to the transcendent faith in the midst of changing circumstances in daily life. Abraham, the father of faith realized the challenging role of growing in faith. Similarly, the disciples of Jesus urged him to increase their faith. We cannot earn or buy or grow in faith unless we dispose of ourselves to receive the gift of faith from God. Therefore, faith is a gift.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “faith is an entirely free gift from God to man. Often, we lose this precious gift” (1 Tim 1: 18-19) due to our sinful nature. To live, grow, and persevere in this faith until the end, we need to nourish it with the word of God. We must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be “working through charity, abounding in hope, rooted in the faith of the Church” (CCC 162).

Everyone who has faith is also tested. Sacred scripture says that tests of our faith, “more precious than gold,” are necessary (1 Pet 1: 6-7) to grow in faith. Although gold will ultimately perish, our faith will be a part of us forever when we are resurrected at the return of Jesus Christ. Trials and problems are unpleasant when we face them. But trials are opportunities to build faith and grow spiritually. God expects us to grow in faith and it is crucial to grow in faith because it is impossible to have a relationship with God without faith (Heb 11: 6).

The National Seminary Journal "Living Faith" dedicates a special issue to mark the Year of Faith and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Benedict XVI insisted on the need to return to the documents of Vatican II and also to draw from them its authentic spirit. Pope Francis has also made a double reference to the link between the Year of Faith and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In line with Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis announced that he wants to continue the initiative of the Year of Faith.

The Year of Faith, therefore, is a time of grace and an opportunity to grow in faith. This journal suggests the following three ways as a means to grow in faith. First, through reading, which makes one perfect. To grow in faith, knowledge is important. You cannot love what you do not know. Therefore, reading is a wonderful way to grow in the knowledge of God and in f ai tho The present issue of this journal, provides a forum to the clergy, the religious, and the lay faithful to grow in faith through re-reading the documents of Vatican II, meditating on Scripture, the Ecclesial Tradition of the Church, writings and teaching of the Fathers of the Church, Church Documents, Apostolic Exhortations, Encyclicals, etc. This certainly is an excellent way to grow in faith.

Second, through Prayer, which makes one humble. St. Teresa of Avila said that a proud man never prays. Humility is one of the essential virtues to grow in faith. Prayer means communication with God. During this Year of Faith, believers must request the Lord to increase their faith by developing a habit of prayer.

Third, through Love which makes one perfect. To grow in faith, our prayer and reading should lead to love, which means 'faith in action.' Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that "the fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace."

God expects us to grow in faith, and he tells us it is impossible to please him without faith. As we draw close to the end of the Year of Faith, let us continue to uplift our faith by the spirit of reading, prayer, and love. In other words, the Year of Faith gives us an opportunity to convert ourselves to Jesus and to enter into a deeper relationship with him. The "door of faith" is opened at one's baptism, but during this year, this Journal - "Living Faith" gives an opportunity to all Catholics to rediscover, re-examine, and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.

Raveen Perera 

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