Something that’s been on my mind and my heart a lot lately is the importance of faith. I feel like a lot of the times we as Christians or Catholics just cruise through life and go to mass on Sundays and when Lent hits we sort of just give something up because it’s the right thing to do. And since it’s currently Lent I’ll focus on that I reckon.
I can’t really speak towards why people do what they do or where they are so this might not be relevant at all, but I can tell from observation from the Catholic community here [Alberta] that I’ve been hanging out with. Personally Lent is more than just a spring cleaning. It’s more than just going through the motions, which I feel like we as a community of faith just do WAY too much. A wise priest once told me that the road to heaven is an uphill one, the moment we just try and cruise through our faith we start to slide down the hill. It’s something we need to focus on and really work on daily and intentionally. Ahh yes, intentionally working on something; ‘but some days I just don’t want to, I’m just not feeling it’. Gah, if I had a penny every time I heard someone have that attitude (especially myself…) let me tell you. Yes, plot twist faith is something we have to work on all the time, it won’t always be like at a retreat or when you receive all of the Palanca at Challenge and you realize how much you’re loved or have those deep inner and personal conversion moments. Faith is so much more than that. It’s waking up early to say that extra Our Father, it’s holding the door open for that person we really hate talking to in the morning, it’s helping a lost traveller, it’s helping the homeless man to share your lunch or time with him, it’s even fighting for what’s true even, no, especially when it seems that society thinks otherwise. Oh yeah, the Catholic faith is not easy to handle, but it’s beautiful and amazing to get changed slowly every day.
So where does this leave us? This leaves us to a conclusion, from of course all my observations and personal experiences, that we sometimes are lazy about our faith or that we take it for granted. Even though this is just from my perspective I know that there are a couple of people that support this conclusion with a little bit more credibility than me. Dr. Scott Hahn came to a conference in Alberta last year, and if you don’t know who he is; Google him. He’s a beauty. Anyways, quick story, he was a Pentecostal (I think) Pastor and then converted to Catholisism, he said something to the effect of: ‘Catholics got it, they don’t know how they got it, or where they got it, or why they got it, but they know they got it.’ This makes me feel pretty solid, like, ‘Heck ya, of course I got it’ but at the same time, is knowing you ‘have it’ good enough? Mhmmm food for thought. Another man who has spoken to sort of this effect is Matthew Kelly (Again if you don’t know who that is, google is your best friend right now). Ya, he’s the guy who does that ‘Best Lent Ever’ thing! But he also wrote this book, and the title makes my point; ‘the four signs of a dynamic Catholic: How engaging 1% of Catholics could change the world’. Boom. That’s powerful, in the introductory chapter he explains how roughly 7% of Catholics actually do all the work and pay for everything in their parishes. WHAT THAT’S CRAZY. Yep, well that’s why we NEED to take our faith more seriously. If we increase that number to 8%, he thinks we can change the world, but why stop there. We NEED to change and to actively take our faith seriously.
Crazy. Changing the world, who hasn’t dreamed about that in some way or another, and it’s totally within our grasps, all we need is to take more of an interest in our faith and to take it seriously. Now that doesn’t mean become a missionary. However it does mean that we have to change, and change doesn’t have to be a whole 180o flip from drunk to saint. No saint (Some saints got pretty blessed in crazy ways) most saints, didn’t change overnight, they took time. St. Ignatius read books for a year and even then started realizing and learning about discerning, it didn’t just come to him overnight. Fr. Stephano Penna, a priest in the Edmonton Archdiocese (Google him, he has a sweet twitter and I think a blog but he’s solid) said at a conference once that when he does spiritual direction he would rather someone try and give 5 minutes to prayer rather than hear that someone who never prays to go to holy hour every day. It’s a progression.
Now this progression doesn’t come easy, it’s hard to stick and form habits, especially when we don’t feel or see the effects of it right away. The thing is you only realize the change slowly and after days, weeks, months, years of not feeling anything you start to see it slowly. It’s beautiful. However it’s something you have to stick with daily. Again, it’s intentional, and I beg you if you are on the fence about your faith or just ‘not feeling it’ to stick with it. In the words of the great band Boston, It’s more than a feeling. It’s a choice to take faith seriously and not taking it for granted, to pray every day, to listen when you can’t hear anything, to make that decision every day. Too many people I know who know what’s right and know what’s good, and what’s wrong but always make the wrong decision and desensitise their conscience to the sin they are plunged in. That statement is far too true for myself as well. It’s a struggle to learn the truth every day and to slowly draw away from the old bad habits and form the good habits. As a community, especially in this time of Lent, let’s rise up, let’s start being intentional, let’s not settle for a garbage life of sin, let’s stand up for the truth, form community, help each other, ask each other about your sins, ask each other about your prayers, challenge each other. (HAH I DID IT COACH. (I put the word challenge in there) But seriously challenge each other) This community is called Challenge so stick to your guns and challenge yourselves and each other to be the best version of yourself and to push yourself towards what God’s purpose has for you because that’s where we find the peace that we all look for.