Strength doesn’t come all at once. Any professional athlete can tell it can take years of training to perform well in their sport. There’s not a super solider serum to instantly make the next Captain America. (Another point is that the serum enhanced the natural bravery and self-sacrificial heart of Steve Rodgers that was already present through his youth…) Strength takes time, hard work, and smart work to grow to the greatest potential. Belief in God is like that. Faith takes time and it needs to be nurtured.
Continual, constant pursuit can strengthen one’s faith in God. In the relationship between God and man, there’s this type of pursuit; each one seeks the other and desires love. During times of spiritual drought, efforts of pursuit can be rather challenging. Man’s pursuits become half-hearted. God desires the entire heart.
Faith is like a river. If it stops flowing the water grows stagnant. In order to keep faith fresh, there has to be a constant renewal of the spirit. I’ve thought converts have better faith because their belief stems from a renewal that is present and relevant, rather than Cradle Catholics like myself who’ve known the faith most of their life and tend to have a lukewarm faith. I want to change that narrative.
When the pursuit of God becomes passive, these passive pursuits can be transformed into active pursuits by looking into the past and finding the times when God is present, how he was present, and learning from those experiences. Another way to transform our pursuits is to try new things, while keeping the consistency of time, prayer and effort. Finally, it’s important to not pursue God alone. The Blessed Mother, the saints and the entire church as the Body of Christ can support us in our pursuits of God.
One way of changing from Passive Pursuit to Active Pursuit is reflecting on your past. I’ll call it “Past-ive Pursuit.” What are some significant moments in your life journey that have affected your faith? One of mine was my first experience of Adoration at my confirmation retreat in high school. Adoration is where we Catholics adore the Body of Christ fully present in the Eucharist. We believe that during communion we receive Jesus’s body and blood. Adoration is a form of worship and reflection with Jesus. During this moment, I fought against temptations and realized that God overcame it all.
I can think of many other formative moments in my life. I’m lucky to have been on and staffed countless retreats. I’ve served others in my church and my community. But this isn’t my working. It’s God in me. It’s the Holy Spirit working in me, to produce fruit for the Glory of God. You can look at points in your life that where your faith did change. These can be receiving the sacraments, a reflective retreat, or a small, but grand gesture. You can count your blessings in your life journey.
But what if you can’t see any moments that have changed your faith? If you feel like you have been stagnant for so long, pray about it. Look carefully at where you might of fallen, and resolve to get back up. Faith must go beyond the highs and the lows. Whatever you do, don’t despair. Rather, trust that the Lord will lead you on the right path. He put you on this earth for a reason, and every second you exist is a reason to live.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.Psalm 16:11, New American Bible Revised Edition
Another way to transform your pursuits from passive to active is try new ways to pray. If your prayer life is almost nonexistent, try praying a new way. For example, when you read a bible passage, you might do it in the format of Lectio Divina. You reread the passage multiple times, typically 3-4. The first time you listen to what words or phrases stick out to you, the second time, you try to reflect on those words, and then you read the passage again to respond how would you apply it in your life and finally to rest in God. There’s many websites that go into Lectio Divina, but this is one I found that’s a good place to start. https://bustedhalo.com/ministry-resources/lectio-divina-beginners-guide.
There are many other ways to pray. One of my favorite ways to pray is the rosary. In this prayer, you reflect on the mysteries in Jesus’s and Mary’s life while repetitive praying common prayers such as the “Our Father” and the “Hail Mary”. I’m not going to into how to pray the rosary myself, but I’ve added a link. https://www.rosarycenter.org/homepage-2/rosary/how-to-pray-the-rosary/. There are many other ways to pray, such as the Divine Mercy Chalpet, listening to worship music, or just sitting in silence.
However you pray, the best thing to have is consistenty. Don’t constantly try new prayers without reflecting on them. If you have a schedule, integrate time for prayer. Pray the rosary daily. Reflect on the daily readings. The point here is that consistency in time and effort helps you strengthen your faith life in the monotony of day-to-day living. If you like a particular prayer, you can repeat it daily to learn more about the words, what they mean, and memorize the prayer.
Finally, I want you to remember that you aren’t alone. God is with you. He has given us His Body, the church, to help us on our journey closer to Him. The church includes the church here on Earth, or the Church Militant, the church in Purgatory, or the Church Penitent, and the church in Heaven or the Church Triumphant. We have a community of people among us who can help us in our faith. We can pray for each other. I would emphasize that the saints in Heaven can pray for us. They experienced difficult lifes, yet each responded to the call of holiness in their own life. Find a saint that fits your lifestyle, your struggle. There’s a patron saint for almost anything. Plus, there’s prayers and novenas to help you understand the saints and have them pray for you. My favorite is St. George, my confirmation saint. He’s the patron saint of England, chivalry, Boy Scouts, and many more. St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers. St. Cecelia is the patron saint of music. There’s so many saints that can help pray for our needs. The church can help us grow in our faith life in community, because we aren’t meant to be alone or struggle alone.
When you want to move from passive pursuit to active pursuit, there are many avenues to pursue, including reflecting on your past, learning new ways to pray, and working with the community and the entire Church, including the saints up in Heaven. The best place to start is to call upon the Holy Spirit and let Him guide you to what needs to be done in your life. It’s not going to come all at once, but it will take time. Time to trust in the Lord, and learn His ways. Find out how God is calling you and follow that voice. That is how you seek the Lord. Answer the call and choose Him always.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.Isaiah 55:6
The Nerd of May