St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Trust in Christ

Recently, a blogger wrote a deep couple of questions: "My question is how does totally surrender to God really letting go? I know its all about faith but how do we build that and not have it shatter in our face the moment something goes wrong? Please answer this-this is really important for my spiritual life."

Regarding total surrender to God, please keep in mind what Jesus says about giving up everything for God and his kingdom. For example, he tells the parable of the person who finds a great treasure (which represents the kingdom of heaven) buried in a field, and "out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Mt 13:44). While it is not always easy, it should bring us great joy to give up everything for the kingdom of God. It the greatest treasure on earth.

We don't build up our own faith; Christ does. He nourishes faith through us. Again using a parable, we look at the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-32). The mustard seed cannot grow on its own. With the help of water, the Sun, and air, it "becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come to dwell on its branches'". Our faith cannot grow on its own. With the help of the water of Baptism, the Body and Blood of the Son, and the air of the Holy Spirit, our faith can grow large enough to move mountains (see Mt 21:21).

With this in mind, then, I would suggest three ways** to allow Christ to build up your faith:

1) Open yourself to his Grace
Our job as believers is to be open to Christ and his Grace. If we remain open, he will give us faith that won't shatter when times get tough. He will bring us closer to Himself, the Prince of Peace. He is the One we need when life gets rough. His Grace will get us through whatever curveballs life throws us: "if God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31).

2) Frequent the sacraments
The sacraments are where we receive Sanctifying Grace (the life of God dwelling within us)...where we receive faith. Faith is given in Baptism, nourished by the Eucharist, sealed in Confirmation, restored in Confession, etc. Daily Mass (whenever possible) and monthly Confession are highly recommended for those who wish to go deeper in their relationship with Christ.

3) Pray your tail off
Talk every day to Christ, preferably in his Real Presence in the Eucharist (in a Church or chapel where the Blessed Sacrament dwells). Read Scripture every day (one chapter of the Gospel a night works for many folks), pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, etc. Just as a disciplined athlete exercises every day, so we should work out every day spiritually (see 1 Cor 9:24-27).

Finally, to be a real believer is to trust in Christ. "Fear is useless; what is needed is trust" (Mk 5:36). If I totally surrender to Christ, I give him my life...I give him my love...my problems...my fears... my worries. "Do not worry about your life...your Father knows (the things) that you need" (Lk 12:22,30).
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** Are there other ways that Christ builds up our faith?
Other Scriptural passages/quotes that speak of this?

9 Comments:

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for answering this!!!!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:04 PM  

  • To anony: I have found all of the things Fr. Greg mentioned to help me grow closer to Christ. Prayer life is extremely important. I used to pray 10 minutes a day - if that and often would go a couple of days just barely praying. This is when my faith was very weak. Due to personal tragedies and then experiencing adoration, my prayer time has gone to about 1-2 hours a day......I find it is the BEST part of my day. This has really helped me surrender to Christ. All of Fr. Greg's listed suggestions are extremely important as well.

    By Anonymous KH, at 10:19 AM  

  • Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 7:4-8
    ”We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. - 2 Corinthians 4:7ames 4:7-8)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 AM  

  • On the topic of prayer.....It is interesting to ask how much one prays in a day. As if we should be able to put a time estimate on it. And when I first started on my spiritual journey there was a time limit to my praying but now I have found that praying is an all day long process of turning our thoughts to God. As the bible says we should pray constantly. At first that seems impossible. How can you do that and actually get other things done in a day. Is it possible to really pray constantly. As I have grown in my relationship with Christ I find that it gets easier and easier to constantly be turning to him in my thoughts with thanksgiving, for assistance, for guidance, for forgiveness, in praise etc. Yes, somedays my thoughts turn towards him more than others. But it brings me peace and comfort to know that at certain times in a day when I am in need of special assistance from the Holy Spirit (like a sensitive discussion I am in with someone, or wanting to remove myself from a gossipy situation etc)that I simply ask and turn quickly in thought to him to ask for his help in my words to speak or actions to take. That is a prayer. A quick one but a prayer non the less. That is how I can now understand the Bible when it says to pray constantly. In all situations we can use the Holy Spirits presence. Growing up I thought prayer was simply the reciting of the learned prewritten prayers that we all learned in CCD. But it is so so much more. There are so many ways to pray (prewritten, simple chatting with,through christian music, in nature, in our breathing-breathing in more of you (Christ)-exhaling less of me), and again that is how it becomes easy to "pray constantly". I read a book by Brother Lawrence called PRACTICING HIS PRESENCE. It is a great book to read. It shows that it is possible to be in HIS presence all day long. The church library (at St. Francis)has a copy of this if anyone is interested.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:53 PM  

  • Anony,

    Wow! You really practise the presence of Christ!! All thoses examples are all very cool! I especially like the breathing in more of Christ exhaling less of me.!

    I have heard about the book you are talking about. I think it is really neat the way Brother Lawerence is able to practise the presence of Christ while washing the dishes especially way back in the 1500s (?). I am definately going to check out that book!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:03 AM  

  • FG,

    Could you give us a list of books we could read?

    Thanks!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:24 AM  

  • Anon, sorry to take a while to provide some books for spiritual reading. Here are ten solid recommendations for those in the beginning and intermediate stages of the spiritual life. If you need more advanced spiritual reading, please let me know.

    1. "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St Francis de Sales (Tan books).
    2. "The Story of a Soul" by St Therese of Lisieux (Tan books).
    3. "The Sun Danced at Fatima" by Fr. Joseph Pelletier, A.A.
    4. "Treasure in Clay" by Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Doubleday).
    5. "St Francis of Assisi" by Omer Englebert (Servant Publications).
    6. "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis.
    7. "The Life of Christ" by Fulton Sheen (Image books).
    8. "Modern Saints" by Ann Ball (Tan), Books One and Two.
    9. "True Devotion to Mary" by St Louis de Montfort (Tan).
    10. "The Lamb's Supper" by Scott Hahn (Doubleday).

    By Blogger Fr Greg, at 12:03 PM  

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