“Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor ): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new.
Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples.
tells us, “strengthen themselves by believing”. The saintly Bishop of Hippo had
good reason to express himself in this way. As we know, his life was a
continual search for the beauty of the faith until such time as his heart would
find rest in God… Saint Augustine
Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.
Porta Fidei 7
Reflection – The above passage is written in simple, plain language. The choice of words is common, everyday, basic religious vocabulary. It is tempting to slide over this passage—at the risk of sounding cynical, we can pass over such texts as ‘boilerplate religious rhetoric.’
This would be a dreadful mistake. The thought contained in this short passage from Porta Fidei is radical and profound, and we would do well to meditate on it at length. Faith grows when it is experienced as love received and communicated as grace and joy. Only through believing does faith grow stronger. The only possibility for possessing certitude in life is self-abandonment into the hands of a love that grows continually because it has its origin in God.
There is a whole vision of life, a whole program of life contained in these three simple sentences alone. Faith is not some dry sterile intellectual exercise or worse, a clutching at straws in the face of a cold dead universe.
Faith is diving into the vast ocean of love, receiving and giving love, abandoning oneself to the Gospel, to living the commandment of love and all the exciting exhausting demands it makes on us daily. Faith is, as Catherine Doherty loved to quote, to throw one’s life at the foot of the Cross and sing and sing that you should give him such a little thing.
It is a love affair, and it is a love affair that calls us, pushes us, urges us, into a deeper and deeper love for all humanity, for every man, woman, child, for our enemies, for strangers on the other side of the world and for the people closest to us—our neighbor.
And this love affair, this faith only grows by abandoning ourselves to it. By living as if it were true and as if we believed it with all our hearts. ‘Do what you would do if you were holy,’ someone recently quoted C.S. Lewis to me as saying. Enter the passion of love, the way of the Cross which is not only suffering and sorrow, but service and song as well.
This is how our life is made secure, not by vain futile scrabbling to carve out some safe place for ourselves in this passing world, but by self-abandonment and totality of self-gift.
I am aware as I write this, of course, that all of this is just words, words, words. It has to be lived to be known as reality, as fire and light, cleansing water and our food and drink, as a truth deep and broad and secure enough to be truly the path of life.
Perhaps it is impossible, or at any rate very difficult to give expression to the deep truth of life without falling into the trap of banality and boilerplate rhetoric. But in this year of faith, we begin with the words, with the proclamation, and then move with his grace beyond words to the love and life that shows forth the face of Christ and the truth of the Gospel to the world. Let us pray for this grace.