Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Practicing" The Faith

Recently some friends invited me to attend a “Late Nite Catechism”. The evening features a “Sister” who holds class with a roomful of “students” (audience) as “lessons” of faith are imparted. This is the longest continuous running theatric production in Seattle in its 11th year.

The evening is highly interactive as Sister asks questions of her students and then has a lot of fun at their expense on how they answer (or don’t answer) her questions. The room was diverse as we discovered there were a few Catholics, former Catholics (Sister claims there is no such thing!), various Protestants and self-proclaimed “spiritual” people.

When students give correct answers they are given a prize and when they give incorrect answers we’re all given laughs as Sister good-naturedly makes fun.

One of the things that remained with me later as I reflected was the way Sister would ask someone, “Are you a practicing Catholic?” If the answer was no, she would then ask, “What do you practice?”

A musician knows what it means to practice. An athlete knows what it means to practice. Unfortunately I don’t think many people who wander into a church “get it” that faith is also practiced.

No one is born able to masterfully play a song or wondrously score in a game. They have to learn how to experience music or sport and the learning involves practice. So it is with faith. One practices praying until they become able to converse with God. One practices generosity, service, forgiveness and patience and with repetition they find in time they are more often virtuous than not.

Belief in God and trust in His goodness, His guidance and His provision involve some work on the part of the believer. Not work in order to earn or gain something from God. God gives because He is full of grace. Rather the work or practice develops in us a capacity to trust and receive from God.

What do you practice?


Anonymous said...

I've struggled with the concept of what faith really is for a long time. Thank you for explaining it so simply. If I understand it correctly it's like putting one foot in front of the other and before long you have traveled many a mile and are at a different destination than you were in the beginning because you took that first step in faith and the next, and the next.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, thank you for sharing.

Lisa U said...

To me, "practicing" also means creating a habit for oneself. So it's like second nature, and becomes part of who you are. In some Behavior Modification book, I read that it takes 28 days to make a habit. I know that if I seriously took a half hour of every day and just "sat with God", it would become easier and easier to take that time. As a former Catholic, I used to "practice" a lot: memorizing prayers and chants, learning how to do rituals well etc. If I had spent that same amount of time "practicing a DIALOGUE with God, that included LISTENING", WOW....I can only imagine the relationship I would be having with Jesus, right now. So now, I am still trying to make it 28 days in a row where I am spending a full 1/2 hour alone, with God! Practice, practice, practice!