Like all journeys, my faith journey, is enriching but far from smooth; subject to adaptation and never perfect. As with most Catholics, faith sustains and comforts me but also presents many surprises, demands and challenges along the way.
I remember as a school child, at St Brendan’s school in the 1950s, learning and singing the hymn, ‘Faith of Our Fathers’, even then an especial favourite of older Catholics. It looked back to earlier centuries when harsh penal laws against Catholics in England and Ireland were in force and solidarity in faith essential for the survival of Catholic practice and identity. Even today, we hear of Christians and other religious groups who are being persecuted for faith. The old hymn and the sentiments it professed, though, were ‘of their time’ and lost relevance to younger Catholics who grew up in a multi-faith Australia with its more inclusive culture and anti-discriminatory laws.
From the received faith of parents, teachers and Church community in primary school years, an exciting new development in faith came to me and to my contemporaries in 1962 with the advent of the Second Vatican Council. As the changes introduced by the Council were implemented over the next few decades, faith, once underpinned by stricter devotional practices, made way for a more communal and personally liberating faith. Catholic life was transformed. The Church became more open to the world and we were asked to follow in large and small ways of thinking and being. Faith education and discussion on Church matters and the larger issues of society were encouraged. Lay engagement in liturgy, ministry and administration became accepted practice. Exploring more fully Christ’s command, ‘Love one another as I have loved you’, found deeper meaning in an emphasis on social justice in schools, parishes and Church organizations throughout Australia. An engagement with ecumenism and a deeper understanding of other faiths and beliefs enriched and broadened the lives of Catholics and their fellow Australians, without diminishing Catholic identity and values as had been feared by earlier generations.
Faith for me is about that sort of hope and renewal. It promises that the Spirit will always be present to us in our Sacramental and everyday lives. Although my faith has certainly been tested at times, its promise remains with me. I see it exemplified every day in the lives of so many in our own Parish and wider communities, both young and old, who act ‘in good faith’. I am encouraged to take the ‘long view’ and trust in a faith that develops and sustains through life. I hope it will always challenge me to be better than I am and give a rich meaning to the rest of my journey.
What it means to be Catholic – By Luke Parnis
There are many joys and wonders about being Catholic. Faith is such a wonderful thing, and it is something that we should all think about as we all go about our days. Just recently, we celebrated Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and gave them the ability to speak foreign languages, to spread the good news of the Lord. Just like Pentecost, when we are babies, we are given gifts and talents to help proclaim god’s message, and to be more kind, loving human beings. When we have these gifts and talents, we must use them for other people’s needs, and not to always put ourselves first. An example of this is shown by my father Stephen, who is a doctor. He always puts the needs and concerns of his patients first, before anything else. He always treats people with so much respect, not just his patients but with his family and his friends, no matter who they were, or where they came from. Respect is one of the most important things in life, and something that Jesus always showed, no matter the situation he was in. Jesus is such a role model for me as he shows that being nice and doing the right thing is always the right choice. No, I can’t perform miracles, but the little things I can do to help people certainly make a difference.
Recently, I was elected Social Justice Leader at Holy Rosary Primary School. My goal is to help bring ‘Social Justice’ to our school and to the wider community by raising funds and awareness to help out people in need. With any leadership role comes responsibility; responsibility to work hard, responsibility to listen to my committee member’s inputs and ideas, and responsibility to make sure that I am making the fairest decisions for our group. Jesus’ inspirational messages help me make those decisions, and I make the decisions based on what is right, what is kind and one more very important aspect: What would Jesus do in this situation? This is why going to mass on Sundays is so important to me, as I get to learn Jesus’ ways of living and the things he did to become such an influential figure in his time.
As I go about my daily life, whether I am at school or at home or any other place I may be, I make it my duty to act as God wants me to, “To love one another as I have loved you”.
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