Since faith is a gift of God, how come it is so hard to keep it alive?
Does the fact of not practicing one's religion necessarily mean having given up faith?
Can faith be lost in a faith crisis?
Can faith be measured?
The above questions on faith, all pertinent questions in the thick of our lives, will be answered generally in this chapter.
Faith: what is it? How do I define my Christian and Catholic faith? On my answer, true or false, depends my life's good or bad orientation. If my answer is inaccurate or incomplete, my life will get out of shape.
Of course, faith is a gift from God. But this precious gift is granted as a talent to develop. This gift was given to me at baptism and the good example of my parents and teachers were supposed to have enriched it through the years.
As a frequent traveler, I happen to see Christians whose faith is nothing but vague notions in their mind with no effect whatsoever on their way of life; they have not yet truly met Christ.
I also come across other Christians who, through the Church, a movement or even a certain sect, have lived a profound religious experience, have discovered Jesus and have fervently committed themselves to Him.
After this fervor had cooled off, some have fallen back into the old rut of mediocrity for lack of guidance.
For me, the Catholic faith means I welcome Christ into my life with my whole being, with all of my mind and heart.
Consequently, I try to know more about Him through the Church He has founded. I strive to love and serve Him. My faith becomes the light of my life.
If I do not practice my faith, it will not forcibly die out. It will weaken and keep weakening. But, let us hope God, in His infinite mercy, will some day poke the embers and revive the fire into a vibrant flame.
In the course of my life, I am bound to face hardships, which will shake my faith perhaps to a despairing level. The outcome of this will often be a stronger faith than ever. The death of a dear one, an illness, a failure may well try our faith, but faith is not so easily lost.
Let us keep our Catholic faith well alive! It is God's great gift. Let us preserve it from contamination. In many Catholics, faith is not dead, but just undernourished. Often it is polluted! Yes, polluted with doubtful religious theories, by questionable religious movements or books, by the New Age movement.
Faith has stages: that of a child dependent on encouragement; that of a radical youth so fond of independence; that of an overactive young adult and that of a Christian who opens his heart to the Spirit with serene and fruitful maturity.
Let us nourish our faith with prayer, the Sacraments, good Catholic books and magazines. Let us strengthen it by listening to our pastors and by being actively committed to the life of our community. Instead of trying to measure our faith, we should be eager to live by it as much as possible.