As the Year of Faith draws to a close I can’t help but be inspired by God’s work in the life of the Church. From the outreach of Pope Francis, to the catechetical workshops in my current diocese, to the daily life stories of those in my parish, there is a momentum behind the constancy and strength of faith. St. Ireneaus writes, “A human being fully alive gives glory to God,” and how fitting it is to explore the meaning of being fully alive in the context of faith. The Church in its universal and personal faith journey aches to become more alive!
Faith is one of the three theological virtues; we are asked to believe what God has revealed to us in Himself, and to bear witness to His truth through the other two virtues of hope and love (CCC 1814-1816). By saying that we believe in God, what He has done for us in love, and to live as a witness to that understanding, we have expressed the desire to know Him. The Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner remarks, “Faith means putting up with God’s incomprehensibility for a lifetime.” Indeed, we venture into the unknown in order to know God. Growing in this way is an inexhaustible task! And we are asked to “put up” with the mystery of who God is in order to live a full life.
To live a life fully alive is a challenge in this world of amusement. We are a part of a culture that is distracted by entertainment, technology, and immediate gratification. There is a focus on having control over this busy life. Self-improvement and self-care books fill shelves. Articles and talk shows tell us that we have the power to make ourselves the best that we can be. In many ways that can be positive encouragement, but without faith in a God who governs the human heart it is an empty message.
Faith gives meaning to this life and shows us what is to come in the next. More than any other happiness or encouragement the world offers to feel fully alive, God speaks to the deepest desire of the heart. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI defines faith in his translation of Hebrews in Spe salvi, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, Spe salvi 7). Faith gives us the best momentum to live a life that is fully alive because it is a concrete reality. We may not be able to measure out faith in a measuring cup, but the value of its effects are seen in those we meet and in our own actions. It is constant, certain, and strong and gives us a foretaste of the joy of heaven (CCC 161,163).
I have recently worked with a third grade class, middle and high school group, and my pastor’s adult formation class in framing an understanding of faith. Taking the lived experience of a parish community alongside what I study as a graduate student has led me to see how faith is being cultivated in my own life. I do feel more alive than when I pray for clarity and invite God into the relationships and situations of each day. By believing that he is at work in my life, I grasp at how to live the story of the mustard seed, teach the Creed, and consider the people and ideas in the life of the Church. From individuals to local communities and beyond the desire to know and love a God who desires us draws us to more fervent faith. “Great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever,” says Psalm 117. Let us endure and live more fully in what we believe as God does in us!
Sophie Jacobucci serves as a second-year Echo Apprentice in the Diocese of Manchester, NH.