As we continue our five-week message series, this week we explore another “spiritual life hack” that will help you grow closer to God in the New Year: Getting to know and cherish your faith more fully.
Christians often think of faith as the source of their gratitude. As is right and just, we are grateful for the many blessings in our lives because faith tells us that they are gifts from God. But faith also is an object of gratitude, something for which we also should be grateful.
Saint Peter made the first confession of faith in Jesus Christ, when he declared him to be “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16). In reply, Jesus said that this understanding of his identity did not come from “flesh and blood” but was revealed to him by God (Matthew 16:17).
Indeed, faith is a gift from God, one that we cannot forge or develop on our own. Although in faith “the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace,” it is nevertheless “a supernatural virtue” infused into the human soul by God alone (Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 153-54). To be sure, “[b]elieving is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit[,] . . . who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy to accept and believe the truth” (Id.).
To the extent faith is a gift and itself is an object of faith, then it also should be the primary object of our gratitude. King David and the ancient Israelites understood this. Many of the psalms extolled the beauty, intelligence, and wisdom of God’s law, which was the focal point of their faith. “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul,” Psalm 19 joyfully declares. “The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye. . . . The statutes of the Lord are true, all of them just, more desirable than gold, than a hoard of purest gold, sweeter also than honey or drippings from the comb” (8-11). Psalm 119 similarly proclaims that God’s law is a “delight” because it “stands forever” and “is firm as the heavens” (72, 89-93).
Whether blessed to have been given a religious education in Catholic schools, through a parish catechetical program, or instruction at home, many Catholics too easily forget the gift they have received in having been taught the faith. We can show our gratitude by honoring God with our attendance at Sunday Mass, obeying the call to daily prayer, and seeking to discover the beauty of Catholic teaching.
Listen to our Sunday message this week, in church or online, to learn more about what there is to know, love, and cherish about our Catholic faith.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson