Am I a believer?

Those who do not believe in God and do not even consider it are simultaneously denouncing the futility of our faith. This is alarming in a country like ours, where the number of believers has gone from being very high to plummeting in the space of a few short decades.

However, it is good that we no longer blame or anathematise atheists, agnostics or indifferent people. Fortunately, they are no longer treated as evil people. Not even this prejudice is no longer present in our thinking, not least because we find them among our nearest and dearest, and also in our churches. If it is true that faith is a gift that God gives according to mysterious criteria, it cannot be demanded of anyone. Moreover, there are people who, without any religious militancy whatsoever, surprise us with their altruism, their capacity for sacrifice and dedication to others. These pagan saints give us “sopas con honda”.

Some of us do still recognise ourselves – perhaps a little lightly – as believers. We should not be so sure. Do we really believe in the God of Jesus Christ simply because we frequent the sacraments or belong to a church institution? Is faith in the true God authentic for those who dedicate their time and energy to those most in need? Is the person who faithfully devotes daily time to prayer and contemplation more of a believer?

Paradoxically, in the face of the statistical collapse of the churches, spirituality is nowadays in fashion. I am not talking about what we could call atheistic religion, but about the so-called religions of well-being. They propose rites to expand one’s own consciousness or to find harmony; they help by initiating relaxation, healing or mind control therapies, rather than the search for God, whatever we call it. No one is unaware of the dangers of an excessive egomaniacal search for self.

What is faith? According to a suggestive medieval etymology, “to believe” –credere in Latin- comes from cor dare, which means “to give one’s heart to God”. Faith is that seed of trust planted in everyone’s heart. It can grow or it can be aborted. One is the first guarantor of its care and growth. There are reasons to believe, but one does not believe for reasons, but out of trust and love. Faith coincides with our deepest dreams and sets us on the path of trust and search. It is not in our hands to manufacture or attain faith. We do not obtain it by prayer, nor by altruistic activities… To have faith is to wait humbly and patiently for the Lord. Pascal advised: “If you do not believe, kneel down, act as if you believe, and belief will come of its own accord“. The Lord often comes in a thousand ways… and he always comes in disguise and appears to be something else. So, am I a believer? Yes, because I wait for Him to give Him my heart.

 

Juan Carlos cmf

(PHOTO: Dante Di Natale)

 

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