If Faith is the infinite storehouse of God’s goodness for us as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, then Belief is how we take the kernels of Faith and dispose them to those around us. For those who consciously seek God where they are, the “capacitas dei” or ability to hold Faith is a constant quest. I must decrease, He must increase. Using contemplative spirituality, we do that by practices that allow Christ to be in us. We put ourselves in a state of mind, or lifetime thinking for some, where we sit and wait for the Holy Spirit, through the real presence of Christ, to overshadow us as God did to the Blessed Mother. This is a conscious act, in keeping with our ability to reason and to make choices that have consequences for us. Faith is not a one time shot at grace and forgiveness of sins, but just the beginning of our lifetime struggle to have in each of us the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
Our Faith must be informed by reason, not that we can ever completely know the mind of God, but we can know what we can know. Most of those who live in darkness (two universes of the physical and mental only) do not get the wisdom of God for us. What we do in our Lay Cistercian practices is to seek God’s mercy on a daily basis, always praying for God to have mercy on us, in need of daily Faith. I receive kernels or drips of Faith in my seeking God each day. To be exposed to the totality of who God is would fry my neurons for I am not created to be God, but, like the angels, to seek God in the short time span I have left.
Faith is like drinking concentrated orange juice, too strong to drink by itself, it needs the water of my Belief to water it down. This water is contained in my personal cup of salvation, one that Christ gave me at Baptism. I will present it to Christ when I die. He will look at the cup and see how full of grace it is. Grace only comes from God, belief is my assent to my overshadowing, my doing what Christ aaught us: love one another, as I have loved you. Every day, in every way, that is mindset that I try to maintain. Lay Cistercian practices help keep me focused on how much I need Christ each day just to maintain the grace in my cup. The Church, (the assembly of Faithful in heaven, those still on earth, and those awaiting purification), is a living, dynamic Body of Christ now, in each age. Church is a gathering of those who, suffering the effects of Original Sin, proclaim he death of the Lord until he comes. This gathering is one in centering themselves around Christ, Son of God, Savior; it is holy because Christ, the head is holy; it is catholic because it is not limited to any denomination or religion, but open to all who call upon the name of the Lord; it is apostolic because the teachings of Christ were handed on from the Apostles to allow this gathering in each age to love God with all their hearts, all their minds, and all their strength and their neighbor as themselves. (Matthew 22:36)
Kernels of Faith are contained in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. They are ratified by the Ecumenical Councils in each age, the Church Universal at work.What follows are some questions for you to answer in the silence of your heart.
One of the charisms of what I have learned from Lay Cistercians is called “conversio morae” or conversion of life to become more like Christ. It is lifestyle change a polar shift in loving and doing because Christ first loved us.
Faith alone is needed for salvation but a dead Faith without the grace from Christ is like a barren fig tree. Belief alone will not get you to heaven any more than good works alone, without Faith, will. Faith is one side of the coin, belief is the other. Remember, both Faith and belief are not just for you, but the whole Church Universal giving praise, honor an glory to the Father through Christ in union with the Holy Spirit.