A few weeks ago, Sr. Mary Alma, of the School Sisters of Christ the King, presented to the women of SDSU and Pius XII Newman Center. Her talk was "Women of Faith." It was such a beautiful talk I had meant to share my notes as soon as I could. Sr. Mary Alma spoke of three levels of believing. 1st, that God exists, 2nd, who is this God, 3rd, who is this God for me?
That God exists: This is a good beginning and it is the place many people start in the life of faith. It is reasonable to believe, faith compliments and crowns reason. To understand and help others with basic belief it is good to know apologetic arguments, which also shore up our own belief. Especially the proofs of St. Thomas Aquinas. Go to Article 3 in this link to read the Saint in his own words, especially the section titled: "I answer that."
Who is this God? We know who God is by reading the Scriptures and knowing Jesus. Jesus is the full revelation of who God is. Consider Matthew 16 and the exchange with the disciples at Caesarea Philippi, here our Lord asks them two different questions. Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am? Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." See also how God is revealed in Luke 15 in the merciful father of the prodigal son. See how God is revealed in John 8 and the woman caught in the very act of adultery. Our own knowledge and estimation fall short of the beautiful reality.
Finally, consider Matthew 11 when Jesus tells us to learn from him. Does God ask us to learn from his omniscience or his omnipotence or some other divine attribute? No. Those things can be known by reason. Jesus asks us to learn the thing that only He can reveal about God. "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart."
Who is this God for me? Who us Jesus for you? He is the one who is in love with you. How do we know? When you are in love you give your life for the beloved. Jesus' cross is the testimony of his saving love for you. How do you respond? How can you respond unless you have received and abide in this truth. Jesus is Emmanuel, "God with us." This is what he does. He gives himself in love so that you may sin no more.
How to Live Your Faith: We can bring great joy to the heart of God by living our faith in straightforward manner. Remember the story of the Canaanite Woman, she comes and asks Jesus to heal her daughter, Jesus replies that food of the children should not be given to the dog. Is Jesus insulting her? No, he is challenging her faith and giving her room to exercise it. As she persists, Jesus responds, "O woman, great is your faith!" Imagine the joy on Jesus' face as he encounters substantial and enduring faith in the heart of this woman. Imagine how, in your own testing, he awaits to greet you with the same joy. "Great is your faith!"
We also can live our faith by simple communions in the midst of our day. Whenever we change form one activity to another: sleep to waking, dorm to class, one class to another, and anything else, we open our hearts and minds to the presence of God in our soul. Perhaps a simple formula, "Jesus, I believe you are here in my baptized soul, I want to walk with you." Or something less formal, either way to become aware of and responsive to his life giving presence.
Be a strong woman of faith in this year of faith.