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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Five Things to do When your Faith seems Challenged

Many wonder what they can do when they feel their faith challenged. Some give up, others fight back, and so on. What can the average Christian (Catholic) do in such a situation? You would be surprised how the following can be of immense help.

1. Self Reflection. According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. Moments of self reflection everyday help the individual to really appreciate his/her faith everyday and then be able to weigh ones faith amidst the challenges that come ones way. Self reflection makes us always youthful in faith, conscience and worship. Most often we approach religion, worship and faith uninterestedly, unaffectedly. We must learn to put ourselves within our faith in order to really experience the Absolute/God as he presents himself in our everyday faith experiences in moments of meditation and contemplation. Self reflection may be personal or may be based on an enquiry. Christ, at a time in his life and ministry put this question to his apostles: "Who do people say I am?" This is Christ examining himself on the basis of people's notion of him.

2. Bible Reading. The scriptures contain answers to our everyday questions and address our everyday experiences. Reading the Bible whenever our faith is challenged helps us to rediscover our faith, the God who gives us this faith and His absolute will for us. Many people who read Bible or listen to Bible readings always find that their faith improves on a daily basis and continue to experience the divine in new lights everyday. The scriptures contain a vast wealth of resources for the searching soul to help and encourage faith growth.

 3. Prayer. Meditation and contemplation on the word of God (lectio divina) naturally leads to prayer. Prayer is communication with God. And communication is the soul of relationship. Faith is a form of relation with the divine. It is a way of life not just something lived out. Prayer makes this communication living, active and enduring. Without prayer, faith is dead and the challenged find no encouragement. The idea or faith that God listens and hears has so much of a healing effect.

4. Sacraments. The sacraments are tangible movements or responses to the movements of grace and faith. The sacraments have an immense way of bringing the faith of the individual to life. Faith moves from the abstract to a more tangible, lived-out level that is enduring with the sacraments. Penance helps the soul filled with guilt and depression find solace. Baptism gives a true sense of newness and acceptance. The Eucharist is food that sustains, etc. Absence of a true sacramental life makes faith moribund.

5. Liturgy. By liturgy, I mean public prayer or church services, especially the liturgy of the Mass, where individuals or many faithful come together to express and share their faith and pray. Such public expressions of faith are highly encouraging, motivational and inspiring. At such gatherings, faith may be induced, transferred, learnt or acquired.

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