By JENNIFER BURGIN
Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith.
When it comes to the word faith one of the best definitions can be found in The Book of Hebrews:
"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (11:1)
I often lack faith in my God-given abilities and talents. I compare myself to others thinking: "I'm just not good enough! Why didn't God make me a better person?" I lovethe Lord with all of my heart, but sometimes my faith in him sours. I'm unhappy with my circumstances. I feel like I've been robbed while others rewarded. Seeing and experiencing life's unfairness suggests that remaining steadfast in faith is an unattainable virtue.
Every now and then a crisis of faith makes an ugly appearance. Perhaps we have fallen on hard times such as lost employment. Maybe our health is deteriorating and loved ones feel no obligation to take care of us. Maybe the crisis of faith goes much deeper in that we simply do not accept the Church's position against contraception, abortion, or same-sex-marriage. We feel rejected by our parish community, or even clergy who shoo us away as if we're blood-sucking mosquitoes.
I think of faith as a lion. For the most part, the lion of faith is tame. It's nourished by the Holy Eucharist, taught by Holy Scripture, and inspired by the Saints. The lion of faith is brave and courageous enough to defend attacks against the Catholic Church. However, over time the lion of faith becomes strained to the teeth-drawing point. The once docile cub grows into a roaring lion ready to pounce. The roaring lion wants to renounce God and blame him for all the bad in the world. The Lord isn't cleaning up the world's messiness at a fast-enough pace.
We are bombarded with horrific new stories of Americans joining ISIS, mothers drowning their babies in toilet bowls, young teenage girls recruited into the sex trade, or Christians beheaded for their faith. It appears as if the world is on the verge of utter destruction! Why have faith in a God who allows such tragedy to happen?
The Apostles dealt with persecution throughout their ministry, not much different than many Christians today. They continued to preach and teach despite threats on their lives. No matter what obstacles, especially those influenced by the Devil himself, the Apostles always remained steadfast in faith. They experienced their own crisis points; however, they opened up their souls to the healing works of the Holy Spirit.
As I was preparing for this meditation, I thought of an anachronym for the word "Faith" which can help us remain steadfast despite life's upside-downs, inside-outs, and total meltdowns.
1. Find the answers....Don't believe what society tells us; that we don't need religion or faith in God. Read and study sources of the Truth such as the Catechism, the writings of the Saints, scripture, Catholic publications, and even Vatican news sources. When an aspect of faith is confusing, learn more about it.
2. Accept that remaining steadfast in faith is not easy. Trials and tribulations will always be thrown at us, tempting us to sin. We will want to run away and hide. We will want to give up on God! Bear patience and don't give up.
3. Imagine the eternal benefits waiting for us in the Kingdom of Heaven. No more sickness. No more pain. No more hatred and violence. Jesus and his Blessed Mother will welcome us with open arms! Our sober, vigilant, and steadfast faith, along with a good life, gained us entrance into final Paradise.
4. Teach others about the Christian faith. As we instruct, our faith only grows stronger. We won't allow the evils in the world to deaden our faith. It will remain firm and solid.
5. Hope that God will provide despite our burdens and anxieties. Keep up the faith: Our Lord won't disappoint! In fact, he will give us the means and power to improve our lives for the better. No need to worry. No need to be angry at situations we can no longer control. Hand it all over to God in hope, faith, and trust!
"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens" - J.R.R. Tolkien
"We are twice armed if we fight with faith." - Plato
St. Mark the Evangelist, Pray for Us!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a Lay Dominican associated with St. Albert the Great Priory. Please visit her blog: Jennifer’s Spectrum of Spirituality