Friday, August 16, 2013

Year of Faith: faith celebrated

Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, University of Notre Dame
Although I hesitate to use the word organize, this past week I sorted through and cleared the cobwebs off my desk, which has not see much actual work for many weeks now. 

The few work projects that I’ve managed to complete, however, have been different and quite interesting.

I wrote the August column in the current issue of St.Anthony Messenger, for example, part of their special monthly feature for this Year of Faith.

In this world of 140 characters, the challenge as a writer was to say something personal and meaningful—in no more than 400 words! Our assignment called for each writer to take on a theme inspired by the Holy Father’s letter Porta Fidei, “Doors of Faith.”

My particular topic from the document is this: how the celebration of faith fuels our faith. The idea is inspired by a passage found in paragraph 9 of Porta Fidei that states:  
“To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed,[15]and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year.” 
Here’s the complete paragraph: 
“We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; ... and also the source from which all its power flows.”[14] At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed,[15]and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year.”
And here’s the short reflection that I wrote, titled “Faith Celebrated”:
As a young Cuban refugee growing up in the neighboring island of Puerto Rico, I was keenly aware of all that made me different. In spite of speaking the same language, my schoolmates teased me for my differences in speech. Like refugee families from other cultures, ours was a multi-generational home shared with three grandparents. Our family spent a considerable amount of our time and energy taking classes and attending events meant to remind us of our native culture, lest we ever forget what made us Cuban—and why we were refugees.   
 It was an unsettling time for all the adults in my life. This meant that I attended five different grade schools and lived in five different homes—one not corresponding with the other.  
 I was a perceptive child, more aware than most of the inner struggles of those suffering around me. In a very real way, I felt my parents’ anguish over the family and friends left in Cuba. I ingested my grandmother’s nighttime tears and loneliness. I experienced my grandparents’ uprootedness and displacement.  
 In the midst of all this inner suffering and external displacement—and perhaps directly because of it—my sense of place, belonging, and peace became deeply rooted in the Catholic Church.  
 Unlike most people’s experience, however, this sense of being claimed and chosen was not attached to one parish—but in a very real way, to the Church universal. Walking into a church. Celebrating the liturgy in unison. Receiving the Eucharist with mis hermanos, my brothers and sisters in the faith. This was, and is, home to me. 
 Paraphrasing Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration, I want this Year of Faith to arouse the desire to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.
 
 
In truth, there’s no substitute for the basics. Honest, daily prayer. Reclaiming the graces of the Sacraments. Approaching faith and tradition with a willing heart. Reclaiming the liturgy, and especially the Eucharist, as our home—the source from which “all its power flows.” 
 Only if we put the events of our lives—past, present, future—in contact with the Word of God and the Sacraments will those events become signs of God’s presence in and for our lives. 
 Only if we recommit to daily private and public prayer can we “rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.” 
Do we dare live our lives with such certainty?
+     +     +     +     +

Be sure to check out the printed August issue of St. AnthonyMessenger Magazine, where this reflection was first published [www.StAnthonyMessenger.org].