Friday, November 23, 2012

A Good Advent Prayer

The 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council is an important opportunity to return to God, to deepen our faith and live it more courageously, and to strengthen our belonging to the Church, “teacher of humanity”. It is through the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments and works of charity that she guides us to meeting and knowing Christ, true God and true man. This is not an encounter with an idea or with a project of life, but with a living Person who transforms our innermost selves, revealing to us our true identity as children of God.

The encounter with Christ renews our human relationships, directing them from day to day to greater solidarity and brotherhood in the logic of love. Having faith in the Lord is not something that solely involves our intelligence, the area of intellectual knowledge; rather, it is a change that involves our life, our whole self: feelings, heart, intelligence, will, corporeity, emotions and human relationships. With faith everything truly changes, in us and for us, and our future destiny is clearly revealed, the truth of our vocation in history, the meaning of life, the pleasure of being pilgrims bound for the heavenly Homeland.
General Audience, 17 October 2012

Reflection – OK, time for another little series on the blog. The Pope has begun a new series of Wednesday general audiences offering a catechesis on faith for the Year of Faith. I’ve read all of them so far, and they’re quite wonderful, so periodically I will take a few days here to present one of the audiences – my little contribution on this blog to the holy year.

He begins here with a clear ringing statement of the essence of faith. Not an idea, not an ethical project, but fundamentally and centrally a transforming encounter with a Person—this is what faith is.

I do love this. As a priest who spends a fair amount of his time doing spiritual direction and listening to people, I can tell after awhile whether or not this encounter has happened in a person’s life. Oh, this one may have all sorts of moral struggles and emotional problems and general mess; that one may have a high degree of moral order and discipline. But the first one seems to know Jesus as a person, as real, and the other simply does not. Which one do you think has more peace and joy, and movement forward in their life?

It’s a very strange and mysterious reality, and I sure don’t pretend to understand it. Why and how some people do have this encounter, and others who seem to have good will simply don’t, at least not yet – it’s beyond me. I do know that this is exactly what God wants to give every one of us—all his children. I do know that praying for faith and asking God to come to us and show his face is salutary and vital. It is a good scriptural prayer—show us, Lord, your face.

It’s a good Advent prayer. Hey, Advent’s coming right up, eh! Show us, Lord, your steadfast love. Grant us your salvation. Come, Lord Jesus. It is your face we seek, Lord… all these good resounding prayers of longing and desire.

All of this is because we know, at some level anyhow, that it is seeing God, seeing Christ, knowing Him, being with Him in a real way, that will save us. It is from the contemplation of his face and the encounter with His person that our life slowly is transformed into love and beauty.

And so, this is our faith. If you’ve had this mysterious encounter already, you know what I mean, probably far better than I do. If you haven’t, pray pray pray for it. I know God wants to come to us and make Himself known to us, in His own way and according to His own perfect wisdom. Pray for that grace, and expect it to happen. That’s the beginning of faith right there.