“My Faith can’t be shaken!” I have to say, this statement strikes me as completely ridiculous, and a recipe for losing your Faith entirely. While it is a nice sentiment, one has only to have been a Christian or a member of the Church for a short time to realize your Faith will be shaken. It will be shaken, tested, bruised, battered …. I could go on and on
We are disciples of Christ. His Faith was tested, as was that of His disciples: Jesus was tested for 40 days in the desert (Mt 4:1-11), The Apostles were tested on the Sea of Galilee (Mt. 8:23-27), & Peter was particularly targeted: “Then the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32).
We will see and read things like the following:
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, from the College of Cardinals, ordering him to a “life of prayer and penance” after allegations that the cardinal sexually abused minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades…July 28, 2018 (NY Times).
Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Perhaps, these don’t shake your Faith. Maybe a different scandal or poor judgment on the part of our Faith leaders will. Possibly, it will take a series of such things to shake your Faith – or some other betrayal by a person close to you.
Regardless, your Faith at some point will be shaken. “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pt 1:6-7).
You may not feel like rejoicing, but you should be prepared!
What to do…What not to do:
- Do Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. You are called to follow Him. While our Priests, Ministers, & Fellow Christians are suppose to be guiding us on our Faith journey – Jesus in union with the Father & the Holy Spirit, should be our focus.
- Do pray daily. Find a prayer schedule that works for you & stick with it. Once you establish a rhythm of prayer & a comfort in listening and talking with God and His angels & saints – it will be hard to break that rhythm – even when the unexpected occurs.
- Do attend Mass every week.
- This support of the Christian community should lift you up – even if it is only to know that there are other believers trying to be Faithful to Christ & His Teachings.
- More importantly – Jesus is truly present – to feed you & strengthen you. This is done by His Word in Scripture & His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
- Do Spiritual Reading regularly. There is such a richness in this area – to suit any mood or situation, beginning first and foremost with Scripture. In addition, there are writings of the Saints, current Spiritual and Christian writers…
- Do surround yourself with fellow believers. It is important to have friends who not only believe, but are earnestly trying to live the Christian life/the Catholic Christian life. Having someone to talk to who understands your perspective and encourages you to be faithful is important.
- Don’t let emotion be your guide.
- The Faith journey can be an emotional journey. It should, however, be also a journey of the mind & reason. Before making impulsive, emotional decisions – ones made out of frustration, anger, sadness… stop, think, seek guidance.
- Our Faith in Christ must include a strong love component. Love is also of the mind & heart. Faith & Love need to make sure that the mind is reminding and assisting the heart and emotions in any decision.
- Don’t be guided by the media or strong public opinion. Christ has left us a road map. We have the Church, the Catechism given by the Church, Scripture, & Tradition. Know what it is you believe & why.
- Don’t put your Faith so intensely in people that when they fail or fall down on their Faith journey that you fall with them. (CCC 827)
- Don’t think you are exempt from sin, failure, & shortcomings.
- Do use this as an opportunity to seek forgiveness (Sacrament of Confession) & rise again to continue on the journey with & to Christ.
- Do be realistic. Jesus told us we would be tested & tried and persecuted… “In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it”(2 Tim 3:12-14).
- This is embarrassing. It is shameful. Depending on what is shaking your faith, you may want to hide, or avoid people. This may work for a short time, but only if it is allowing you to stabilize and prepare yourself for remarks and comments that further shake your confidence. Be prepared with short comments such as: “This is terrible, but not everyone is like this.” “Yes, this is truly an injustice. Thank God, we now have, & will continue to strengthen our policies and processes so this will not happen again.”