Faith in Unsteady, Challenging Times

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During these unsteady and challenging times, I have been asking myself how deep my faith is: Faith to believe I have a true Father in heaven. Faith to believe that God loved me—yes, me—so much that His son, Jesus Christ, willingly gave His life to redeem us from sin and to make it possible that His blood could ransom us from death and make it possible for weak, sinful me to live forever! Faith that Jesus made it possible for us to not just exist, but to LIVE—the fullness of life—with God forever. Few things silence me, but when I ponder these words, I am silenced by awe and wonder that I am—that we are—so loved.

Many people do not know this, or even if they have heard the Gospel, they do not believe that those promises are for each of them. Some don’t even want to hear about it—it’s just a fairy tale, they tell me.

But it is not. And those of us who do believe should not keep the Good News to ourselves. We must let it penetrate our whole being; we must let this reality bring forth thanksgiving to God and a desire to follow Him more closely.

The world is growing darker as truth is pushed to the peripheries. We can push back in charity, mercy, and kindness and live the truth in such a way that others are drawn to a peace, a hope, a kindness, and a mercy that they find in us.

That can happen, you know. But we have a little homework to do. Read the following quote by a religious sister from England that has been a source of frequent meditation and self-assessment for me about what it means to have a real faith, a living faith. She writes:

“Faith is not a thing of the mind; it is not an intellectual certainty or a felt conviction of the heart. It is a sustained decision to take God with utter seriousness as the God of my life. It is to live out each hour in a practical affirmation that God is Father and that He is ‘in heaven.’ It is a decision to shift the center of our lives from ourselves to Him, to forego self-interest and to make His interests, His will our sole concern. Each of us has the choice either to live by faith or to live by “flesh.” To live by flesh is to live within the limits of our own potential, within the limits of our own perception, our own understanding, according to how things seem and feel, according to our natural experience. It is instinctive for us to live thus, taking for granted that our conscious experience is to be trusted, that it is the way things really are, the way we are, the way God is—that this is our life. We want to remain on this level because it is within our grasp, it is ‘ours’ and affords a sort of security and assurance. This is so natural to us . . . that we are unaware of how much of our life is lived from self, relying on self and not on faith in the Son of Man. We cannot rid ourselves of this deeply rooted pride and self-possession by our own strength. Only the Holy Spirit of the Crucified and Risen One can effect it and this He is always trying to do. But we must begin to recognize His work and respond ‘Amen’”  (Ruth Burrows, OCD, The Essence of Prayer, 21).

In these challenging and confusing times (politically, financially, and most of all in our religious beliefs), we need to turn to the Only One who can help us. Sister Ruth has provided a pathway of faith and one, I believe, that can aid us to be true Christians and Disciples of Christ.

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I am so grateful for my readers and for those who listen to my radio program, Food for the Journey. I also am excited to let you know about a new initiative that will enable me to share a closer relationship and deeper conversation with my listeners, Friends of Food for the Journey. With a gift of $10 each month, you will help sustain the production of new programs, and join me in my work of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ—a message of hope, mercy, and joy—to listeners across the world. You also will receive a special monthly message from me, and you will be remembered in my prayers and those of my sisters. You can learn more by visiting the donation page here. Thank you for your consideration, and may God bless you.

Sister Ann Shields

Sr. Ann Shields, SGL, is part of Renewal Ministries’ leadership team and a member of The Servants of God’s Love. She is an internationally noted speaker, the author of numerous books on Catholic spirituality, and the host of the popular daily radio program Food for the Journey. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI awarded Sr. Ann the Benemerenti Medal for service to the Church. The Catholic Library Association also awarded Sr. Ann the Aggiornamento Award, for her outstanding contribution to the renewal of parish and community life.