Monday, November 4, 2013

Keep the Faith--Live Forever

"Whoever loves me will keep my word,
    and my Father will love him,
    and we will come to him
    and make our dwelling with him."
                  (Jn 14:23)
One of my regular routines when I taught high school religion classes was the daily "closing ceremony":  After we wrapped up the lesson for the day, I would pause somewhat dramatically and ask the class, "What are you going to do on your journey home?!?"  And they were programmed to shout out, "Keep the faith!"
I'm not sure whether the students completely understood my intention.  Basically, my hope and prayer was that the Holy Spirit would work on their hearts to inspire them to know, love and live the fullness of the faith.  It seems to me that the Year of Faith was something akin to this.  As part of the "closing ceremonies" of his pontificate, Pope Benedict wanted to leave us with an inspiring gift, in the hopes that we would keep on keeping the faith in our respective journeys of life.
Even the logo for the Year helps reinforce the message:  The boat, representing the Church, sails along the sea with the cross of Christ as it's mast; the sails billow under the steady breeze of the Holy Spirit, in signs which form the trigram of Christ (IHS); in the background of the sails we see the sun, which also suggests the ever-present gift of the Blessed Sacrament.  It's as if the graphic artist wanted to remind us that we are a people on a journey.  The question is whether we will let the mystery of Christ's cross guide our voyage home, whether we will allow the Holy Spirit propel us onward, and whether we will open ourselves to the guiding light of the Eucharist.
These final weeks of the Year of Faith bring us to the last of the Diocese of Joliet's monthly themes, "Keep the Faith--Live Forever."  So how has the Year of Faith helped you prepare for your journey Home?  What have you learned and how have you grown?  What areas for growth lie ahead for you, as you carry the Year forward?
Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote that "Life is short, death is certain, and the world to come is everlasting."  Maybe it's just me, but I find it so easy to notice how quickly other people's lives are passing, and yet have a much more difficult time realizing this about my own life.  I can recognize intellectually that death is certain, but existentially I carry on as if this life is never going to end.  Wouldn't it be great to be ready to respond like St. Paul, by saying: "...the time of my departure is at hand.  I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4:6-7)?!
Living forever is intimately linked to how we live here and now.  Will I keep Christ's word, accept the love of the Father, and let the Father and Son make their dwelling with me?  Living forever is also linked to the question of everyday evangelization: Will I dare to give a way the faith I have received?
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful--
P.S.  Although I initially started this weekly blog to mark the Year of Faith, thanks to the supportive responses from family, friends and fellow disciples on the journey, I plan to keep it up in the weeks and months ahead.  If you don't already subscribe via email but would like to do so, simply go to the following homepage and look for the subscription spot on the top right side: