Sunday, October 14, 2012

What my Faith Means to Me

A few days ago, as an introduction to the Year of Faith recently proclaimed by Pope Benedict, I posted the question on my Facebook page, what does faith mean to me? After all, it would be helpful to know why faith is important in my life before I go out and try to convince people it should be important in their lives. I was at a retreat today where spiritual direction was compared to a GPS system. You can have the most cutting-edge system in the world, but unless it can figure out where you are at the moment, it is useless. So here is my initial attempt to figure out where I stand in my faith, and what it means to me.

During this last phase of my life (i.e. college), God has primarily been two things: my reason for existence, and the ultimate friend, lover and beloved. God is for me that ever-elusive “meaning of life”. God gives meaning and worth to everything and everyone, just by creating them. Faith gives me a purpose: to love God and to make him known and loved. I can work on this mission every minute of my life, no matter where I am or what I am doing. No moment need go wasted if I can say a prayer in it. The smallest of my own and others’ actions can become rich in meaning (though I have to be careful not to let my imagination read anything and everything into every little action).

In the person of Jesus, God has been my close friend, who gave everything so that I might live, and who is still present, still desiring to come to me daily in the Blessed Sacrament. In the first month or so of freshman year, I came closer to Jesus simply because I was lonely and hadn’t established close friendships yet. Now that this experience is repeating itself as I start grad school, hopefully I can come even closer. Yet so many times I am not a good friend in return. Another thing the priest said at the retreat was that, in a relationship as close as, say, a marriage, little things are not unimportant. A careless word or an absent mind might not mean so much coming from a classmate or co-worker, but coming from a spouse or a best friend, they can hurt. A few days ago, I was on the bus, all fired up about the Year of Faith and still bouncing around inside from the confidently upbeat praise and worship music to which I’d woken up. Then I overhear this conversation between two guys about how the one had always gotten A’s in religion class because, even though he didn’t believe in God, he could argue his point decently well. He’d argued from a biological standpoint, he said. I felt like I should say the tiniest little thing about how God and science are not incompatible, but hesitated too long and didn’t. Now you could say it was none of my business, but then again it could have led to an interesting conversation. Public transportation gives you those weird opportunities sometimes. Maybe I overreacted, but I felt bad for a good while afterwards. I felt like I’d let down a friend… But, more opportunities will come.

As I transition to a new school, I’ve kind of been absorbing the atmosphere. I’ve been wondering how in the world I can bring God to this world where angry, tattered political stickers cling like scabs to the gray concrete walls, and the bathroom stalls are scribbled over with advice about sex. Now, this is the negative side, to be sure. But in my observations, two things really have stood out to me about evangelization. I (we Christians) need to be joyful and honest. Joy will bubble out beyond fear and will be contagious. Honesty will keep us from deceiving ourselves and being hypocritical. These are a few things I’d like to try and cultivate during this Year of Faith. How about you?

1 comment:

  1. Steph,

    One of my housemates compares the Holy Spirit with a GPS. When we get off track, the Holy Spirit will just keep recalculating until we finally follow... I find this rather comforting.

    I know that this new stage of your life is going to be amazing. The people around you are blessed to have you with them. Your joy is so very contagious. I miss that joy in my life. I miss you, dear. Know that you are always in my prayers!