Faith is More than Just a Pious Word

There is no proof for the existence of God. Let me say this in another way: there is nothing we can do, no experiment we can conduct, no mathematical theorem we can calculate which will demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists. For me, however, there is absolutely no doubt that God exists. And that which allows me to have no doubt that God exists – even though there is a total lack of scientific proof – is faith.

Faith is a word that gets used – and misused – a lot in everyday life. Even Catholics (who perhaps should know better) will use the word faith when they really mean trust. When I was in grade school I frequently went to study at the town library. Maybe in a future post I will explain why I preferred to do my homework at the library, but for now suffice it to say I went there a lot. Now when I waited for my parents to pick me up after the library closed I never doubted, I had faith that they would be there. Even if they were a little bit late I always knew they would come; I had faith. But what I thought of as faith was really just the knowledge that my folks had never left me standing out in front of the library all night because they neglected to pick me up. The belief that my parents would pick me up at the library one more time was trust certainly but was not faith.

Faith is believing, knowing and accepting something even when there is no proof – even when no proof is even possible. I believe that God exists, I know beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists and I accept the existence of God. Yet I can’t prove the existence of God. And that, my friends, is faith. We can sit on top of a mountain and look out over the wonders of nature – the forests, the rivers, the lakes – all of them teeming with life; we can sit atop that same mountain after sunset and look at the grandeur of countless stars blazing in the heavens. And when we see these things, the wonders of nature, the immensity of the cosmos, we are certain that God exists. But no matter how certain we are of that existence of God, proof of that existence eludes us. That certainty that God exists even when we can’t prove it the way we can prove that 2 plus 2 equals 4, the way we can prove water is composed of 2 atoms of Hydrogen and 1 atom of Oxygen, that certainty despite the lack of proof is faith.

Faith is not just a pious word. Faith is the foundation that anchors us in the world and allows us to accept and believe the fundamental mysteries of our Catholicism. That there is one God but there are three persons in this one God; that the Son of God is one person but has two natures – one divine, one human; that this same Son of God, Jesus Christ who died to redeem us from our sins, is truly present in the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine. all of this we believe, all of this we accept on faith. But once we accept the foundational tenents of our Catholic religion everything else that we hold and teach to be true just seems to effortlessly flow. Once faith allows us to believe, to know, to accept the existence of God everything else just seems to make a little more sense.

Was “Doubting” Thomas So Unique?

Every year on the Sunday after Easter we read the Gospel account of “Doubting” Thomas. And every year I can’t help but think that Thomas gets a bad rap. After all, what did Thomas do that was so different from what the other Apostles did? Yes, Thomas refused to believe the others when they told him that Jesus had appeared to them in the locked upper room. And yes, Thomas told the others tht he wouldn’t believe until he touched the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. But Thomas’ unbelief was not very different than the unbelief of the others.

The Gospel accounts of the Resurrection vary but they all, to one extent or another, show that even the closest followers of Jesus, those He had confided in most intimately, failed to accept the Risen Lord until He showed Himself to them. Even Mary Magdalene, who encountered Jesus near the tomb, failed to recognize Him. When she asked Jesus – who she thought was gardener – where the body of Jesus had been taken she was thinking in terms of Him being dead and not resurrected. It wasn’t until Jesus spoke to her that she recognized Him. While Thomas’ demand to put his hand in Jesus’ side may have been a bit more extreme, his failure to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead wasn’t much different than that of the other Apostles and Disciples. The Gospels demonstrate that Thomas was fairly quick to make somewhat cynical comments – see John 11:16 and John 14:6.

His failure to accept that Jesus was risen from the dead was not inconsistent with how the others also responded. And it wasn’t all that different frrom how many of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ respond today. If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of God, if we believe Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, if we believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist under the form of bread and wine, then how can we justify our unbelief in anything that the Catholic Church teaches to be true? Thomas may not have believed that Jesus was alive until he saw – and touched – for himself. Yet once he believed, Thomas went out and proclaimed the Good News to the world and, tradition tells us, he was martyred for his belief in Christ. If we can’t bring ourselves to stand up for human rights, to work for justice and care for the neediest in society even if this means disagreeing with whoever sits in the White House or espousing beliefs that are contrary to whatever political party controls Congress then we have no room to judge the Apostle Thomas. Our faith in Jesus Christ requires – no, demands – that we follow His commands. If we don’t then we will find ourselves in the position of hearing Jesus say to us what He said the the Apostles after calming the storm at sea: “Oh ye of little faith.”

Why We are Prophets – Even Accidental Ones

Through Baptism we are called to participate in Christ’s three-fold ministry of Priest, Prophet and King. So we are prophets by Baptism but this doesn’t mean we are like the prophets we read of in the Old Testament. We are not like Isaiah, Jeremiah or Amos. We are not even like Jonah who tried to run away when God called him because he didn’t want to preach repentence to the people of Nineveh. We are called by Baptism to witness to Jesus Christ in a world badly in need of knowing Him and the values He teaches in the Gospels.

There is definitely a difference between the Old Testament prophets and us, who for lack of a better term we might call “Baptismal Prophets” or the term I like better, “Accidental Prophets.” Those of us who are prophets by virtue of our Baptism are Accidental Prophets not because we exercise the calling by mistake, we are not prophets accidentally, but we are Accidental Prophets because we start out to do one thing and end up doing something else. And that something else that we do is proclaim the Good News. Just as we are called to evangelize by the example of our lives, so too we exercise our prophetic ministry by how we live our daily lives. We don’t start out on any given day to say anything or do anything particularly prophetic but, if we are doing it right, we end up proclaiming the kingdom of God by what we say to the people we encounter each day, by how we treat those people we come into contact with.

So we live out our baptismal calling not by doing “Holy” deeds or by saying “Holy” words. We live out our call to be part of Christ’s prophetic mission by what we say and do at work, at the grocery store, when we interact with neighbors. When we intend to just do ordinary stuff and still proclaim Jesus Christ to the world we are being Accidental Prophets.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.