Faith & Lent
Off the Wall, March 15
, 2013

Now that we have entered Lent, I feel led to share something relevant to this time period. Of consequence, I have selected the topic of faith.

The best definition I could find comes right from the Holy Scriptures in the book of Hebrews, Chapter 11, verse one. It states; “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”

The unknown author of this book tells us in the third verse, “By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.” If one can mentally grasp this statement, not only in reading, but also believing it, then he is on the way to a fuller understanding what Christianity is all about.

The next step is tying together faith and belief. As a Roman Catholic, I then turned to our doctrinal reference book, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It said, “To believe has thus a twofold reference: to the person and to the truth: to the truth, by trust who bears witness to it (177). Faith is a supernatural gift from God. In order to believe, man needs the interior help of the Holy Spirit (179). Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord Himself affirms: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (183).” This scripture was taken from Mark 16:16.

As you all know by now, I am very opinionated. I am, however, also tolerant of other people’s views, even though I may not believe as they do. There are various reasons why people think as they do. One reason is their background and the experiences that formulated their thought patterns from youth to the present day.

Since I am very strong about my faith and beliefs, I decided to see how others felt, so I emailed a questionnaire out to those who I knew were not of my leaning. These included Protestants, Atheists and ‘Other.’ I also asked about age. It was interesting to note that 68% of the returns gained their faith before the age of five, 31%, between five and ten, and 1% as a teenager. Similar percentages responded – 60% were Catholic (C), 38%, Protestants (P), 1% Atheists (A) and 1% Orthodox (O).

Comments included, “Never lived a life without implementing faith in God as a major part of it (C).” “Faith is trusting in God totally through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a religion –it’s a relationship with God (P).” “Faith is a belief in something bigger than us – a leader, a motivator, a guiding light – something that encourages us to be better people (O).” “Faith means that I am the pearl of great price, that God gave everything for me. Eternity began when I turned from “my” life and live in a relationship with God, my Father/Creator, Jesus my friend and Savior, and the Holy Spirit my power, teacher and comforter (P).”

And finally, a Catholic parishioner stated, “Faith is seeking understanding of truth, though it may not be fully understood, driven by the coherence of Scripture and Tradition, for there can never be a discrepancy between faith and reason since the same God, who reveals truth, cannot deny Himself.”

We, as Christians, all know Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. It is tradition that believers practice sacrifice, renewal of one’s being to make ourselves better individuals, and realization that no matter what we do in life, we can no way repay Our Savior for His death on the cross and resurrection.

It is so important that we believe with our heart and demonstrate our faith in actions. I hear too many times how people go to church on Sundays, but act contrary to Christian teaching throughout the week. Lent is a time to reverse this type of thinking.

Pastor John E. Knopp, Jr., co-founder of an online non-denominational ministry stated, in response to my inquiry, "We all are to accept the great commission given to the Apostles; to go forth and spread the gospel to everyone. If we claim to follow Jesus, then we should follow Jesus’ teaching in everything that we do.” Now, that sums it up, I’d say.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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