Being Renewed and Mastered by the Faith

By Frank J Casella

Whenever there are people working on my house, from the plumber to the A/C tech, and most recently the roofer and siding company, I try to spend some time talking with them and to check their ‘spiritual temperature’ to see where God is at work.

My wife and I try to hire a Catholic / Christian to service our home, when possible … keep it in the family.

So, one man was telling me how his son is in jail, and how he bought his son a TV so that he can watch the Cubs games. He also told me that his son started reading the Bible again, and the others in the jail call him the Bible guy.

I asked the man how this came to be, that his son went back to the Bible? He said that now that his son has time on his hands that he can concentrate on it more. Where before he had a lot on his mind and trying to fight his battles in life. I shared with this man what I’m about to share with you below.

After this discussion I said a prayer and thanked God for touching hearts in this way, and prayed the Holy Spirit continue to develop this relationship between the father and the son, and the spiritual growth of the Son while in jail.

Many times, even in my life, it is through our struggles that we mostly come close to God. For God’s will is that we depend on Him. Sometimes He needs to do things that get our attention! … and our response.

There are some important words recently shared by Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, through his reflection The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse. As I was reading the pages of this document, I couldn’t help but see how these words not only speak to this matter in the church, which is deeply important, but also when you take them out of this context how they speak to us in general about living the Faith.

These words in particular jumped off the page at me:

“God became man for us. Man as His creature is so close to His heart that He has united himself with him and has thus entered human history in a very practical way. He speaks with us, He lives with us, He suffers with us and He took death upon Himself for us. We talk about this in detail in theology, with learned words and thoughts. But it is precisely in this way that we run the risk of becoming masters of faith instead of being renewed and mastered by the Faith.”

I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of becoming too busy for God, and to pass on advice to others about living the Faith even when I was failing at being renewed and mastered by the Faith myself. We are raised with knowing the Catechism and the ways of the Faith. But practicing it, living it, and putting it into action is something else.

Life is a work in progress, and it’s understandable how many men I talk with find it a struggle to develop the discipline to grow in the Faith, even though the benefits outweigh the work.

Have you ever noticed that when Jesus had struggles, and ultimately faced His Crucifixion and death, He went to the quiet place to pray? He fought His battles on his knees. He brought himself into one-ness with God, because He could not do it alone in His own flesh, but that of the Father. Just like the man in jail I told you about, I believe he is turning to God because of the place he is at right now – he can not go through it in his own strength.

I am really impressed how this Dad forgave his son while in jail, and supported him by buying him a TV. I’m sure the son feels this encouragement like no other. It’s like during the Passion of Jesus Christ, how Saint Peter denies Jesus three times and runs away. Yet in the end Jesus handed Peter the keys to the Church with true forgiveness.

Likewise, as Benedict XVI says: “A society without God — a society that does not know Him and treats Him as non-existent — is a society that loses its measure.” How many times have we, as men, because we are wired to fix things, taken matters into our own hands confident with how God wants it done, or never considered God’s plan in the first place? This to me is treating God as non-existent.

“The reason is the absence of God”, as Benedict XVI says, “The power of evil arises from our refusal to love God. He who entrusts himself to the love of God is redeemed. Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.”

If you don’t know were to begin to love God, or make renewal, I’m reminded of these little books by Mother Angelica. She shares in a simple way how to turn to Jesus, say your prayers, pray to the Holy Spirit, and go to confession. That is simply what religion, and loving God, is about. And remember we have Bishop Perry’s Virtues of a Catholic Man to help put this all into action.

You can’t have and live your Faith without action …. towards loving God. You can be given the Catholic sacraments, but they mean nothing unless you work on them … all the time.

The Church is known as the redemptive agency in the world. And a very important aspect of this is the Eucharist. We as men, especially those of us who lead a family, need to bring ourselves to the Eucharist as a living sacrifice. We need to do this to the point of being transformed from the good intentions of viewing it as only a Host, into the right-action of being moved by the presence of the Living Eucharist.

Read these words slowly at least three times shared by Benedict XVI: “The declining participation in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration shows how little we Christians of today still know about appreciating the greatness of the gift that consists in His Real Presence. The Eucharist is devalued into a mere ceremonial gesture when it is taken for granted that courtesy requires Him to be offered at family celebrations or on occasions such as weddings and funerals to all those invited for family reasons.”

The Living Eucharist is one of the most important ways I think we come to love God, and to become renewed and mastered by the Faith. And to see how and where God is at work in our lives and in others. This is a free gift that helps us, as Benedict XVI says: “To see and find the living Church is a wonderful task which strengthens us and makes us joyful in our Faith time and again.”

This is how the man working on my house came to tell me about his son. Because, I gave God my time to just be in the moment, so the man felt the love of God radiate from me to the point that he opened up to sharing what he is struggling with. God presents these moments to us when we bring ourselves into one-ness with Himself, the Master of the Faith. And through people is the most common way I have seen how God works in the world.

Thanks for reading.

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Side Note: To the men reading this from Chicagoland, be sure the check out the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum coming in two weeks. Hope to see you there!