Pope Benedict recently proclaimed a Year of Faith, from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013. Though this is an invitation to all Catholics to grow in their own faith tradition and make their beliefs something beyond weekly duties, this is really a call to all people of faith, Catholic or not, to enter more deeply into our own faith traditions.
In Porta Fidei (Door of Faith), the Pope asked Catholics, and all of us, to examine the place our faith holds in our lives. He invited us to open our "doors of faith" so we might examine what we believe, and to make those beliefs a more real, daily part of our lives. Though faith is part of most of us, that faith may only be nominally a part of our daily lives, and for many of us, it remains only a series of duties or obligations we perform. Opening our own "doors of faith" will afford us a better opportunity to understand and live that fundamental part of us.
Many of us already know about our personal "door of faith," but we may not want to disturb that portal. We may fear God will want more from us, or that we may be confronted by God who we think is as judgmental and/or interested in rules as we are. We do not need — or want — to have someone else telling us we are not as good as we should be or that we are not doing the right things. We leave our "doors of faith" alone, closed, because we fear what we do not know or what we believe is possible. We imagine that opening the door would force us to be confronted by a God we should fear, a God we really do not know.
St. Ignatius, though, encourages us to use our imagination in a directed way. If we gather the experiences of all the people who have gone before us, in our own faith experiences and traditions, we will find a God characteristically and really not as harsh as we might fear or imagine. We will realize a God who "so loved" us, He became one of us, and that in His life on earth he preached love and forgiveness. We will discover God is not the fearsome person we might imagine, but someone who loves each of us, as we are. God certainly desires that we improve, but His love for us is unconditional, more than we will ever know.
If we live with that image of God, then opening of our "doors of faith" holds the possibility of more of what each of us lives with. Opening our "doors of faith" promises we will grow in our relationship with our God who is not as judgmental as most of us are, nor as much as our world seems. Opening our "doors of faith" will reintroduce us to the God who is the God who knows us better than we know ourselves, the God who loves us beyond our imaginations.
In this Year of Faith, let us each crack open our "doors of faith" and peek in. We will find our God — someone who can be our companion in life ... every facet of life.
A. M. D. G.
- P. Stark, S.J.
- D. Highberger, S.J.