Sunday, June 28, 2009

Living the Faith

Providence Cross
Picture by Jody O'Neil, SP

Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be know except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved. [Council of Trent, 1547] However, according to the Lord's words, "Thus you will know them by their fruits." [Matthew 7:20]--reflection God's blessing in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is the work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges. 'Asked id she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied, "If am not, may it please God to put me int; if I am , May it please god to keep me there. [Acts of the Trial of St. Joan of Arc] (Catechism of the catholic Church)

This was the introduction to today's Mass in the Daily Roman Missal. A number of times in my life I have been told that because I was not born again by Protestant standards I was condemned to Hell. When I was six years old and was told this, I was devastated. By the grace of God and the love of family I was encouraged to continue faithfully on my journey.

Some 25 years later when playing cards with friends one rainy afternoon, I was again asked if I was born again. It was suggested at that time if I wanted to be saved I would have to leave the church I was attending and be baptized again in the Lord. Confident that I was where I should be in my faith life and certain that this judgment of me and my faith did not come from my Father, I could smile and say, " God bless you. "

Trials like this have had an impact on the life of everyone born into this world. Judgments and claims against our faith come from everywhere. Our Catholic Christian witness comes from the works of good we attempt to perform daily in our lives. Some days these are successful and other days they fail. Through it all the Holy Spirit is the guide, and the grace He infuses into our being is what gives us the strength to carry on. It gives us the courage to say, I am Roman Catholic. I am born again in the body and blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ, every day! With each profession of faith I renew that Baptismal Promise.

I am truly blessed to be a member of the Family of God that supports, nurtures and loves me. Joy is overwhelming at times when I am privileged to CELEBRATE the Mass with this family, joy to the point of tears!

I have learned that though it is easy for me to judge others regarding their practices, religion, or philosophies because they are not mine, it is not my place to place judgement on another. I remember how I have been judged, though not harshly, and remind myself that an act of charity is what I am called to offer not one of anger, disgust or derision. Constructive criticism not judgment is the task set forth for me. I am NOT the Judge. That is left to the God-Who-Created-All. I can only express my regret or disappointment.

As Joan of Arc was judged by jealous members of the hierarchy, she had the "grace" and spirit-filled wisdom to answer with serenity. I find that in the lives of the saints we find models of justice and truth that many cannot or will not accept, because that requires submission of all that we are to the God-Who-Created-All.

I remind myself that casting stones very often means I might end up with a stone in my own shoe that becomes a painful reminder. A reminder that I am not superior to all others, if anything in the scheme of things I am the very least!


Thanks be to God!

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This has become a new adventure. One in which I will try to express my journey with providence.