Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Random, Possibly Connected Thoughts on Faith, with a Bonus Song of the Day

It is the unstated buzz phrase of every extraterrestrial tale from “War of the Worlds” to, well, “ET.” The phrase is “We are not alone.” Science calculates the probability of there being life on other planets. Note to sci-fi believers: Phone home. Of course, we’re not alone. The universe screams His presence.

“He loved us,” John tells us in his first letter today, more of a whisper. “His heart was moved with pity for us,” Mark says, before Jesus fed the five thousand. But “Faith is a personal act” (CCC 166). It is our “free response . . . to the initiative of God.”

“But faith is not an isolated act.” I usually think so, though less now that I’m a Catholic. In the Protestant churches of my childhood and especially in the heady Protestant-based liberal-arts schools of my adolescence, it came down to me and God. Did I believe? I?

Credo? Until last year, literally, we Catholics had one creed beginning “I believe” (Apostles’) and one creed “We believe” (Nicene) (CCC 167). Now, in the new translation, both begin with I. There are some who don’t like this, me included, although I get that credo is first person singular, and I do my best to follow Mother Church, even when I think she’s having a bad day.

The Catechism (CCC 166–169) makes a big point about faith being both personal and communal (167). That it is a response to the Father (Man to man, so to speak) cultivated by the Mother (in the Church). Which says to me that we all need both, father and mother.

Which says to me our culture may have a little faith problem the more fewer of us have a father and a mother. As I wrote in my most popular post, Catholics have this old-fashioned notion that there is a difference between a daddy and a mommy. And the thing about the Catholic faith is, it all hangs together. Family is rooted in the fundamental human experience of faith, as a response to God. We do it alone and we do it together.

Since my father died nearly five years ago . . . pause . . . wow, five years . . . I have grown closer to my mother. This is not because she loves me more now. She always loved me, dammit, why didn’t I recognize that, just as the Church was always ready to embrace me. But I have never been more open to her love since I was a little boy, than I am now with my dad gone.

CCC 169: “Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: ‘We believe the Church as the mother of our ne birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation.’ [Faustus of Riez] Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.”

The Church and the family are analogous.

We can all phone home, anytime, so long as we had a real home in the first place. Sing it, Gillian—

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