In his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict’s hope for the Year of Faith is “to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.” In this installment, I want to share how the families in the Diocese of San Jose are celebrating their faith by way of the liturgies, feast days, and rituals of the Advent and Christmas season.
On November 18th I had the pleasure of visiting the annual Family Advent Adventure at St. Justin Parish in Santa Clara. Families celebrated the Sunday Eucharist and gathered in the school gym to prepare for Advent and Christmas. Tables were covered with advent chains and wreaths, prayer door hangers, Ojo de Dios ornaments, Nativity pop-ups, and festive food and drink.
Parents had an opportunity to do what they do best: teaching faith to their children. I was delighted to see the smiles of the families learning about the rich traditions of Advent and Christmas. Pope Benedict wrote in Porta Fidei, “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.” Fitting words for my experience during the Family Advent Adventure.
In the previous post, I suggested in order to pass faith to our children we must live it in a way that reveals God as the source of our happiness. I also shared my belief that we should engage in daily reflection as a vehicle for thinking, walking, and acting like Jesus.
As parents, we cannot successfully pass our faith to our children if we do not practice it ourselves. Researchers from The National Study of Youth and Religion found that when it comes to belief, faith, and religion, children often emulate their parents. “In fact, young people today may be the best barometer of the faith of their parents. The best chance we have to ensure that young people have faith is if their parents have faith. The best way to get youths involved in their faith communities is to get their parents involved in and serious about their faith communities.”
Why is fostering faith essential to the Church? I am convinced parishes that foster faith in adults are supporting the faith of everyone in the community.
Why grow in your faith?
· Do you feel a presence (God, a supreme being, a higher power) looking after you?
· Do you live with gratitude for the blessings—small and large—you receive?
· Does part of you wish to leave your comfort zone to help others?
· Are you searching for meaning in life?
Faith is a gift from God. It is our response to God’s action in our lives. If we are open and aware of God’s love in our lives, we can’t help but respond with faith. Simon Peter says this best: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn. 6: 68-69). .
Wendy Scherbart is the Director for Catechetical Ministry at the Office for Parish Services in the Diocese of San Jose and is responsible for the formation of the leaders in catechetical ministry within the diocesan churches. She has 29 years of experience as a catechetical leader at the diocesan and parish level. She is a certified master catechist and holds an MA in catechetics and an MA in education administration from Santa Clara University..