The Saints: An Adult Faith

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament“Our final criterion for knowing what the Gospel does and does not mean,” writes Fr. Dubay, “is the pattern provided by those who not only live the revealed message faithfully but who live it heroically.”

Fr. Dubay points out that sainthood and dissent never coincide: “We have noted that in a genuine contradiction one party must be wrong — which of course means that one must be out of touch with the reality at issue. The saints, however, do not contradict one another in their living of evangelical values … if we wonder whether publicly taught dissent from clear magisterial teachings is a value, we find no example of it in any of the saints. On the contrary, like Teresa of Avila, they are ready to die for the least of these teachings. So also when it comes to evangelical poverty. With no exception the saints lived a sparing-sharing lifestyle” (p. 33, HAYP).

Cardinal Ratzinger, just prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI, gave a homily which rocked the world and set the stage for his papacy that never tires in calling us to that mature, adult faith of the saints:

“We must not remain children in faith, in the condition of minors. And what does it mean to be children in faith? St Paul answers: it means being ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’ (Eph 4: 14). This description is very timely!

How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine,’ seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.

We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceipt from truth.

We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith – only faith – that creates unity and is fulfilled in love” (Cardinal Ratzinger, Vatican Basillica, April 18, 2005).

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5 Responses to The Saints: An Adult Faith

  1. Mary Smith says:

    So…what the Pope is telling us is that IF we remain children in faith…or immature in our faith formation…then we will be tossed about on the “waves” of unsound doctrin based on man, not God?

    It seems to me to be somewhat of a paradox…because if we are to remain “children of the Lord” and to have the innocence of childhood…WHEN do we ever “grow up?”
    Maybe my problem is that I am so “new” to faith…though have been Catholic since BEFORE birth!…

    I am reminded of what my son’s third grade teacher wrote on his paper…”Grow up and act like a third grader?”…I have never quite figured it out! I sincerely hope I can be “adult” in some areas of our Faith!

    MS

  2. father says:

    Mary … no doubt that, at first glance, there seems to be contradictions in sacred Scripture … Jesus telling us that unless we become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3), while St. Paul tells us to put childish ways behind us (1 Cor 13:11). Of course we know there are positive aspects of children, like their precious, humble teachability, while there are some other more distinctively immature qualities such as an unreflective superficiality. I believe our Holy Father is cautioning us about the anti-intellectualism and, therefore, the secularism of the latter.

  3. Clare Whitten says:

    Mary,

    Another way of saying it is Jesus asks us to be *childlike* and humble in our faith and to come to Him and love Him and St. Paul cautions us against being *childish* and refusing to learn more about Christ and not be lazy in the growth of our faith. The only way we can grow is to learn about Christ.

    Like your 3rd grader example: He should act like one, that is, he should do his homework and not tease the other kids and not be lazy and work to the potential of a third grader,not be childish, but he should still want to go outside and build a snow fort, watch cartoons, and love his mom and dad and trust in you to take care of him as Jesus takes care of us and we have faith in his care and love.

    Hope this helps.

    God bless you and Father!

    Clare

  4. Mary Smith says:

    Thanks Clare…

    I think your example is beautiful and uncomplicated.

    I think in this complex world, we seek the simplicity of God…so easy if we have courage.

    M.S.

  5. Julie says:

    I just love Pope Benedict…his wisdom and his ability to explain these concepts is incredible to me. He is so gifted at looking at the state of the world and providing this snapshot, in a teaching directed to us to enable us to keep our focus on Christ and remember our own humility as children. Sadly, in this world of relativism, there is noplace that has not been touched by such a sliding scale. In class we are studying “proofs” of God, and I’ve seen these proofs used in discussions with atheists, but the problem is that they do not accept the objective first principles. Everyone wants to be the author of their own “truth” and no one wants to admit that it’s a problem when their “truth” collides with the “truth” of another self-appointed god.

    Relativism is a deceptive danger that so easily ropes people in; only by keeping our focus on Jesus and building our relationship with Him can we ever be enabled to stand firm in the torrents of the uproarous culture that we inhabit.

    Wonderful blog, Father. This is my first visit here and I’m very likely to be back! (I never met a fan of JP2 and Pope Benedict XVI that I didn’t like!) 🙂

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