Monday, October 22, 2012

"I Believe in God"

Our Lady of the Rosary
This is the opening phrase we recite each Sunday as we pray the Creed--from the Latin, credo, for "I believe."  Moreover, we profess to believe in God who is a mystery of Trinitarian Love--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   But what does it mean to say "I believe," and how can we strengthen our faith in this central mystery of the Christian life?

In recent years, a familiar phrase people have started to use is talking about where people fall "on the spectrum."  Although being "on the spectrum" can have some negative connotations depending on the context, it can also imply a kind of fluidity and a reluctance to simply label people with simplistic "either/or" categories.  The phrase seems to recognize the fact that we are all "works in progress," not finished products easily defined.  So, perhaps we should ask ourselves where we fall "on the faith spectrum."

First and foremost, faith is a gift--a theological virtue given by God himself, but accepted and exercised through our free will.  And faith is also a journey.  It is a pilgrimage into a deeper, more personal relationship with the Lord.  So is my faith wavering and uncertain, solidly committed, or wholeheartedly convicted at this point of my life's journey?  Though these are not the exclusive choices (it's not a multiple choice question with only three possible answers), we might consider them as points on a continuum: 

 Wavering/Uncertain                 Solid/Committed                 Wholehearted/Convicted

Regardless of where we fall on the faith spectrum during a given day or week or phase of our life, like the first disciples, we can look to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our sure model and guide in the life of faith.  Mary was the first to believe wholeheartedly; she was the one who offered the perfect "yes" to the mystery of the Blessed Trinity--"May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).

So if we're more toward the wavering/uncertain end of the spectrum, perhaps one good Hail Mary would be a the place to start: the words of the Angel from the beginning of Luke's Gospel provide the first proclamation of the Good News.  If our faith is more solid, a daily decade of the Rosary could be a great spiritual exercise to hone our faith into a daily virtue: meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary gives us a chance to ponder the life of Christ through the eyes of his beloved Mother.

If we are more wholehearted in our faith (or want to be!), we could join the Church universal in praying the World Mission Rosary.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whose cause for canonization is moving forward, taught that we need to pray not just for ourselves and our local needs, but for the whole world--especially those who are poor and vulnerable.  He said, "When the World Mission Rosary is completed, one has embraced all continents, all people in prayer."

Our Blessed Mother loves all of her children, regardless of where we are "on the spectrum," and she is always ready to help us grow closer to her Son.  Indeed, she is always encouraging us to make one of the earliest Christian prayers our own: 
"Lord, I believe, help my unbelief" (Mk 9:24)!