Are you a person of faith?
Are you a person of faith? Of course you are! You believe that when you cross the street on a green light, the cars with the red light will stop, because of the laws. You believe that the earth revolves around the sun on someone else's word. You believe that love exists though you can't put it in a test tube or under a microscope, because you've seen its effects. In the same way your faith in God comes from someone else's word, the order and marvel of creation that we see and our intelligence that reasons to an uncaused cause.
There is a delightful little book by Trina Paulus called Hope for the Flowers. It is the story about two caterpillars who deep down believe there is more to life than just eating and crawling. They believe they can become butterflies, though it doesn't seem possible or reasonable. ‘Yellow’ is tom with anguish but decides to risk becoming a butterfly. Doubt floods ‘Stripe’ and he struggles because believing seems impossible. Another crawler sneers, "How could you swallow such a story ... We couldn't be butterflies inside ... "
"Perhaps he's right," sighed Stripe. "I haven't any proof." Paul Toumier in his book Secrets says, "He who has never doubted has never found true faith either." Finally Stripe risks everything and enters the darkness of the cocoon. It reminds me of a conversation that I had with my father the year that he died. Dad said to me, "You just have to believe." Like the caterpillars that had the stuff of the butterfly within them, we have the stamp of divinity within us.
People come to faith in different ways — some by observing the effect of faith on the life of another, others by seeing how the faith and prayers of another resulted in a miraculous cure, or people like Paul of Tarsus through a traumatic experience. The centurion who contemplated the crucifixion and death of Christ exclaimed, "Truly this is the Son Of God." (Mk 15:39). A few come to faith through a near death experience, but most through an inquiring mind or the witness of the life of people of faith.
My mother's first baby, George, died at the age of four-and-a-half months. Mom's faith astonished me even as a child. During the Second World War she would say, "Wasn't God good to take George when he did. Otherwise he would have been fighting in the war and killed in a strange land far from us. I might never have known where he lay."
Faith is a precious gift from God that shapes our lives. It brings deep spiritual changes within a person. Spiritual longing is part of our nature. St. Augustine says, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." God always takes the initiative, but not necessarily at a time-line of our choice. People have responded to God's initiative from a tender age to very late in life. When faith is embraced, it enables us to live a life of love that challenges the values of our society. Through faith, the divinity within us transforms our very being.
Sister Andrea Dumont is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. She spent 14 years in Guatemala and since returning to Canada has lived in Grand Rapids, Easterville and Thompson, MB. The main focus of her work in adult education, which includes training lay presiders for times when there is no priest available, organizing and instructing in the various ministries, sacramental preparation and RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).
By Andrea Dumont CSJ
Reprinted with permission of the Nickel Belt News, April 16, 2010