Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 17, 2006
Fuel flickering the flames of faith
The glorious celebrations of Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday are now over. Those celebrations are the annual highpoint of worship. They raise us above the ordinary and provide glimpses of the divine. The Easter season stretches for 50 days, but its emotional pinnacle has already passed.
For those who have come through the RCIA, the stakes are even higher. They have been in the process of discovering the most basic dimension of life, of an almost-giddy excitement over the realization of God's loving concern for and presence in our lives. Now, there is the potential for a post-Easter letdown.
What to do now? How does one keep the fire alive?
The first realization must be that the journey is not over. It has barely begun. The fire that must be kept alive is not the fire of emotional excitement, but the fire of fidelity.
Faith is like a marriage. If love is rooted only in desire and good times, it will surely pass. But if there is a genuine, abiding commitment to the other person, it will endure hard times and emerge stronger.
Further, if love devolves into simply doing one's duty or obeying the commands of the Church, it will lose its life.
It is not enough to be loyal and obedient to the Church; the Church must steal your heart. The Christian will root himself in the soul of his beloved and make her experience his own. He will love her past and meditate on her history, revering her tradition and exploring it deeply. He will come to be intimate with the saints who lived, thought and suffered for Christ in the Church.
Having come to love the Church's tradition and know her saints, he will not entertain the idea that there once was a golden age of the Church that allows us to condemn the Church of today for its weaknesses.
Indeed, the Christian will never set himself above the Church as its judge. Theologian Henri de Lubac once wrote, "Far from passing judgment on (the Church), he will allow her to judge him and he will agree gladly to all the sacrifices demanded by her unity."
Having made one's faith the cornerstone of one's life, the Christian will not see society's conventions or his own ideas as main sources of enlightenment. He will look to Peter for guidance. Peter, the bumbling fisherman who once betrayed Jesus, but who, under the power of the Holy Spirit, became the Rock.
Many consider the exercise of authority in the Church to be tyranny. That opinion must be resisted at all costs.
The Church is not a human institution, but a divine one. It is Christ's body, living and breathing here today. Our ongoing union with the Church is not a heavy weight. It is the ongoing consummation of our love. Obedience to her is a cause for joy.
St. Ambrose once reflected, "Where Peter is, there the Church is." So, look for Peter and be faithful with him.
John Paul II, our recent Peter, once wrote that those who walk by the Spirit "feel an interior urge - a genuine necessity and no longer a form of coercion - not to stop at the minimum demands of the law, but to live them in their fullness" (The Splendour of Truth, 18).
To live the resurrection always means going beyond the minimum. This way is an "uncertain and fragile journey," the late pope said. But it is possible with God's grace.
To be a convert is a special thing. In the final analysis, however, the conversion that matters most is the day-to-day conversion at which we, again and again, choose or reject Christ. Fidelity to Christ is possible only through love. It is a love that must be fed through meditation, the sacraments, spiritual reading and acts of service.
The celebrations of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter bring us to the core of our faith. They can enliven us.
But for faith to continue, it must be fed.
- Glen Argan
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