What exactly is faith? How can I keep it and how lose it? Such issues as these are at the heart of the Year of faith. PETER P. Prokop Siostrzonek.Prior of the Břevnov Benedictine monastery, reflects on these and some other problems.
God often visits us, but we are not at home … Why is it that faith has such power and gives a person strength?
Let’s talk first about faith in general. If we are to think it over together it is wrong to divide people into “believers” and “infidels.” Mankind is divided into believers and desperation. Everybody lives just because they believe. After all, everyone needs faith in herself. Without it, she would become the plaything of various paranoias.
But the belief, in itself, is not enough. One needs faith in man. Without that life is unbearable. People, however, are mortal … One therefore needs faith in society, in culture, science (how much faith in the validity of scientific laws is workrooms?). How much faith we have was already showed everyone by my teachers from elementary school – were we all able to touch, to see everything? We just believed. I note this because so many of our friends will say they are unbelievers. It’s not true!
Faith is, it seems, like a trend. The question, therefore, is probably not why to believe, but how to believe.
In our Christian faith we should have added: Who to believe? Faith is not a matter of family tradition, because it’s not just a matter of will or obedience. Faith can not pass a teaching catechism (how many people will even after decades have passed, recite long memorized passages, yet feel removed from God…). Faith is not obtained by chasing miracles and apparitions; that tends to superstition. It’s also not just a matter of feeling. Then it would be more important that they believe rather than what and whom to believe.
What bearing does our Christian faith have on all this?
Faith is a relationship with God, and therefore like any relationship must be born from a personal experience of meeting each other. The poet Paul Claudel once went to church just so – for inspiration, for mood. And suddenly he realized: “This speaks the truth.” He had left the church before that, and for four years resisted the reach of God, but in the end he reached out and became a Christian, practicing for life.