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Faith: dialogue of mind and heart
Whenever troubles hit us and the Cross becomes heavier the reaction is either to rebel and say "Why does God allow this?" or "What would we do without our faith?" How often do we come across either one of these statements!
For those who believe, faith holds no problems even in moments of darkness. We trust God, his love, his mercy.
We know our prayers will be answered, even if it is not always as we wish. We believe that God does allow evil but always brings a greater good out this evil.
Our faith is centred on a person, the person of Jesus Christ, the God who became man, the God who reveals the Father to us.
We believe what Jesus taught us because he is the Truth, because he performed miracles, because he died and rose from the dead. He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life can penetrate the very core of our being.
He can make us complete persons, living our faith in a dialogue of mind and heart. We believe with our mind but it is our heart which responds to this infinite love and it is our heart which prompts us to live our faith.
We believe that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to make our hearts alight with the fire of love. The Holy Spirit is the "finger of God's right hand".
The Holy Spirit writes the name of Christ in our intellect and in our will. The Holy Spirit teaches us with his gifts. He moves us to believe with our mind and to love with our heart the Person of Christ.
As adults, we question and must clarify our understanding of our faith. We speak with Protestants and they tell us all we need to be saved is "to accept the Lord Jesus". Believe in the Scriptures alone. You don't need to do anything.
As Catholics we know better. Faith alone will save us provided we do what faith tells us. We must obey the commandments.
And the commandments expressly tell us we have to worship God. Translated in Catholic language, this means obeying the precepts of the Church, one of which which requires us to go to Mass on Sunday.
We must also do what Christ tells us "feed the hungry, help the sick, minister to Christ seen in our brothers and sisters.
The Bible alone and all the knowledge in it is not sufficient to save us. We need the Church, we need the Bible interpreted by the Church.
In fact the Gospel tells us Jesus' words: "He who hears you, hears me". We need the Tradition of the Church which has developed over the centuries always with the guarantee that the Catholic Church teaches the truth.
We believe all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches. We believe because God who is Truth has said so and he cannot deceive.
Faith requires us to say 'yes' to what God teaches but saying 'yes' is not just accepting a set of propositions; it does not mean having a beautiful knowledge which is to be kept in our intellect.
Faith is dead knowledge unless our mind communicates with our will, unless we agree with our heart. The 'yes' of faith means that mind and heart are engaged.
Saying 'yes' with mind and heart implies that we actively direct our lives towards the One we know to be not only the Highest Truth but also the greatest Good, the good which excludes every evil and fulfills every desire, God, who is our ultimate end.
The first commandments tell us to love God and to worship him. Our heart answers the call when we go to Mass willingly, when we spend some time daily in prayer.
Prayer means talking to God, turning to him throughout the day – in the morning as we offer up our day, before meals which are moments to remember his presence in our lives.
Prayer moments are like punctuation points, stops from the business of life, but not full stops. In one of his prayers, Blessed Henry Newman says: "As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, from time to time let me whisper a word of love to you."
The Angelus at 12 noon is a great reminder of the great gift of Christ who became man to save us.
The Angelus is also a reminder of the Lady who says 'yes' to the invitation of God. It calls for us to give thanks and also calls us to imitate this 'yes' in our lives.
Dialogue of mind and heart. Jesus promised to be with us all days. He promised to give us the bread of life.
We believe this promise, we believe that the Eucharist is really Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
We believe his Real Presence in the tabernacle. Such knowledge is precious, to be cherished. Our hearts must respond by learning to relish time spent in his presence.
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, just coming in to say 'hello' should be easy when we go past a church, take children to school. We can also learn to spend a little more time, just talking or sitting still, enjoying being with him.
Our hearts are full of the cares and worries we live with daily. We constantly meet people who are in trouble, the sick, the lonely, the unemployed.
Our world is filled with problems: terrorism, war, famine... the list is endless.
Why not go and talk to our Blessed Lord who urges us to go to him when we are burdened and heavily laden? He promises refreshment, peace and there is no better place to experience this than in a church when all is quiet.
To love God with our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole soul and to love others as we love ourselves are the two commandments which faith urges us to follow. Such knowledge demands a response.
Loving others means being ready to put aside our own concerns in order to help someone else. It means treating everyone with love even though we may judge their conduct or their ideas to be objectively sinful.
It means not being too busy or too tired to show care, to listen to someone who needs to talk.
We sometimes hear the phrase "Catholic guilt". Such a phrase undermines the notion of sin and desensitises our conscience.
It tends to imply that Catholics unnecessarily worry about committing sin and have no need of Reconciliation.
Indeed, Catholics understand that sin is destructive, destructive of society, destructive of our relationship with others, destructive of our relationship with God. We know Jesus died to make atonement for our sins.
Awareness of evil, awareness of sin prompts us to look into our hearts, to note the glaring times when we have deliberately sinned, to seek the hidden black spots, the resentments, the hurts we nurture.
Catholic guilt indeed! It means to have the decency to try to realize our imperfections, to acknowledge these, to be sorry.
We do not have to be tormented by such knowledge. Our heart prompts us to turn to the Sacrament of Mercy, to go to confession, ask pardon and make reparation.
Our Catholic faith is the pearl of great price. It is a treasure which must not be buried; it is a gift of untold riches which leads us to heaven; it is the gift of God's love which needs to be generously given to all those we meet in our daily life.
Let us constantly ask Our Lord to intensify our faith, to help us to get to know him better and let us consciously work to develop our relationship with him by praying frequently and receiving the Sacraments he has provided to help us to become saints.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 28 No 5 (June 2015), p. 10
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