I stopped by the Adoration Chapel one day after work. Every seat in the little chapel was filled. It was wonderful to see so many people spending time with our Lord on a weekday afternoon like that. I thought of them all going out into the world afterwards, and without even knowing it, spreading the peace and joy that comes from being in God’s presence.
I sat with Jesus in the tabernacle of the main church instead, and hadn’t been there long before an older gentleman also came in. He’d been in the chapel and was clearly making his rounds, stopping to pray at the side altars of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart before going home. He wasn’t the only one who came in the church to pray, light a candle, or walk the Stations of the Cross. At least three others came in during the hour I was there.
It lifted my heart to observe the faithful devotions of those people, and it occurred to me what a gift faith is. Many of us – I’d hazard a guess that very nearly all of us who read here at Serviam Ministries – have been blessed with good faith formation at home, or a vibrant parish community, a gifted religion teacher, a strong prayer group, faith-filled friendships, or any combination of these that have encouraged our life of faith. I know the debt of gratitude I owe to the people who along the way have either planted the seeds of faith, or shown me how to nurture that faith once it began to grow.
I wonder, then, about people who haven’t had such benefits and still take their spot in the pews each Sunday. What is it that keeps them so faithful to weekly Mass attendance? Would I be as diligent if I hadn’t been taught how to have a personal relationship with Christ?
Is it enough to just sit in the pew? It’s one important factor, for sure – an obligation, even. But so much more is possible! A life of faith – while not always easy – is deep and rich and beautiful and sustaining. It gives meaning to the readings at mass, depth to what we hear in the homilies, potency to the structure of the liturgy. The gift of faith brings Catholicism into every facet of life, Monday to Saturday as well as Sunday. We become aware of the presence of God at work, in family life, in what we see around us every day. I wish every baptized Catholic had that awareness, that every one of them knew they were beloved by God, that they wanted a deep and personal relationship with God. Could you imagine the spark that would be lit in this world if that happened?
Reading the Catechism, or sitting in Adoration are not, by themselves, going to transform the world. They are, however, two means at our disposal of polishing the gift of faith we’ve been given. By looking after that gift, tending it, polishing it, we will maybe plant seeds of faith in someone sitting in the pew beside us next Sunday. And that will help to transform the world.