As we have just celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, we mark the completion of another Easter journey in the liturgical life of our Catholic faith. In our busy world it is easy to allow these great feasts to slip past us without much acknowledgment, but especially because we are so busy and easily distracted it is all the more important that we reflect on the significance of these celebrations of faith.
There is such wisdom in the rhythm that the Church offers us guiding us through the entire liturgical year. It is designed to remind us that every day is part of a season of faith steeped in the word of God and the power of the sacraments. Recently I’ve been reading a wonderful book on the Fathers of the Church, and on virtually every page is a reminder that the sacraments, feast days and other elements of the Church didn’t just happen but were the result of great people of faith pondering the mysteries and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I would recommend to all who are reading this reflection to make an effort to explore the Fathers of the Church. There are a multitude of volumes on this topic, and although they can be challenging to comprehend in our time, many authors have made them truly accessible.
I am confident that a study of the Fathers of the Church will bear good fruit whether you are a relatively new convert to the Catholic faith or you have a doctorate in some theological discipline. The wisdom of these early Christians, the challenges they faced and the depth of their commitment to the person of Jesus Christ, is a great inspiration to anyone seeking to live their own personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
My reflection on the Fathers focuses especially on the sacraments of initiation because these sacraments remain a part of the rhythm of our Catholic faith which is virtually the same as it was for the early church. I have said before that I believe it is essential that we as Catholics in the Diocese of Tyler seek to gain a deeper understanding of Sacred Scripture and how the Bible actually came into existence. If you have begun to seek this deeper understanding of the Bible it is virtually guaranteed that you are becoming acquainted with the writings of the Fathers. I would recommend a study of the origins of especially the New Testament and a study of the earliest Fathers of the Church as two foundational elements of deepening your appreciation of the Catholic faith. You will find that the study in many places actually becomes one path because the writings of the Fathers are so woven into the Church’s discernment of what is ultimately the inspired word of God.
As I write this reflection it occurs to me that I have used the word study several times. This touches on a very important reality for all of us who seek to deepen our life in Jesus Christ and to live our beautiful Catholic faith more richly. We live in an age of texts and soundbites which are in many ways antithetical to the work of all the baptized. We are all called to ponder and learn more about the mysteries of faith. I know that this idea of deep and sustained study is not necessarily very attractive to many of us, and even if it is in principle attractive many of us will say “where can I find the time?” This is a reality for all of us whether Pope or neophyte in the faith. Our lives are over scheduled and densely packed with obligations on many different levels. My suggestion would be to approach growing in your Catholic faith from the perspective of coming to know a beloved friend more deeply. Ultimately the Fathers, the Bible and all the wonderful teachings of our Catholic faith are simply about coming to know Jesus Christ more deeply. As we learn more about the inexhaustible mystery that is Jesus Christ we learn more about ourselves and the meaning of life itself.
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