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). .
Science touts itself to be the answer to many—if not all—our questions. Are there experiences in your life that cannot be measured by science? Science is limited. Faith is not. As a church, we need to emphasize the mystery revealed by faith. How are you open to God in your daily life? What difference has it made? It is important in prayer to reflect on your religious and spiritual experiences—acknowledge and be grateful for them. Listening to the religious experiences of others and sharing your own will serve to nourish your faith.
My aunt shared with me her experience of God’s presence the night her mother (my grandmother) passed. My grandmother would say prayers every night aloud before bed. This was true, even on her last night. For from the bedside monitor, my aunt heard my grandmother saying the prayers she learned as a child. She recited them all, one by one, until her last breath.
One of my friend’s mothers was comatose, with hardly any chance of recovery. My friend and her family called in a priest to anoint her. He bent over and said, “Mary, we are going to pray.” Mary, who had been unresponsive until then, miraculously moved her hands in a position to pray. Her family looked on with astonishment and joy. We rely on faith when we are in need. Our faith inspires our loved ones to believe all will be well. Daily faith practices deepen the most important relationship in our lives, our relationship with God.
How Do You Pass on Your Faith to Your Children?
First, ask yourself: What is the source of my happiness?
Jesus says: “I am the bread of life… whoever eats this bread will live forever” (Jn. 6: 48-51). Do you believe these words from Jesus? Practicing our faith is to be a disciple of Christ. In order to nurture the faith of your children, it is important to be attentive to your own life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Discipleship implies a relationship. The three tasks of a disciple are to walk, think, and act like Jesus. We walk like Jesus by walking with Jesus. We think like Jesus by learning from him. We act like Jesus by participating in the mission and ministry of Jesus. The content of catechesis is aimed at helping us walk with, think like, and act in partnership with Jesus.
One can’t pass on faith like a dozen eggs. It takes the cultivation of our Christian practices with your family at home and with your community on Sunday (and the rest of the week!). Strengthening habits of the heart takes discipline, commitment, loyalty, trust, hope, and belief—a life of discipleship to Christ.
With his Apostolic Letter of October 11, 2011, Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared that a "Year of Faith" will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013. In the upcoming monthly catechetical columns in the Valley Catholic I look forward to sharing more reflections on faith.
By Wendy Schebart
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..