KERNELS OF FAITH

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.

  • If you fall into the duality trap (liberal vs. conservative) in Faith and Belief, what happens when the Pope, elected by the Holy Spirit, says something you think is betraying what you consider to be a dogma of the Faith, such as keeping the tradition of celibate men as priests? Do you stand on Faith or are you standing on J-ello?
  • On what do you fell back in times of uncertainty about all the laws of the church changing, laws, and practices that you have done from your youth, perhaps laws that you have abandoned long ago when you lost your Faith?
  • Is your Faith based on the Church or on Christ? One will get you to Heaven, one will not. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Church Universal, the living body of Christ, the Head, is not important. If Faith, which comes from God through Christ is important, it is important because it is the occasion for us to give glory to the Father. When we are baptized to newness of life, we are baptized into the Faith of the Church, the collective belief of those in heaven, those on earth still alive, and all those awaiting purification.
  • If you have lost your Faith, what have you lost? I asked a young woman this question several years ago (and I mean several), and she told me she did not think she had lost her faith but the Church has lost its Faith. When Christ told Peter that he was the Rock and on this rock he would build his Church, he did not say we would not wander down false paths in the future, he told him that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. When individuals become their own Church, they can make up anything they want and it will be correct. After all, they are god. We need the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to inspire reformers to reset our sights on Christ.
  • One of the mysteries of Faith is why Jesus entrusted his message of loving others, as he loves us to fragile and sinful people.

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.

Amen.

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