ST VINCENT PALLOTTI AND REKINDLING OF FAITH OF CATHOLICS AND SCRIPTURAL MODELS AND MOTIVATIONS OF OUR FAITH
ST VINCENT PALLOTTI AND REKINDLING OF FAITH OF CATHOLICS
SCRIPTURAL MODELS AND MOTIVATIONS OF OUR FAITH
Renewal of faith as announced by the Holy Father was one of the reasons that led St Vincent Pallotti to the formation of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate (UAC) and subsequent Society of the Catholic Apostolate (SAC) in 1835, at the same time, as we celebrate the year of faith (11th Oct. 2012 – 24th Nov. 2013), the UAC celebrates the 50th anniversary of the canonization of St Vincent Pallotti who is the Patron saint of the Second Vatican council, as announced by Pope John XX111 in 1962 at the opening of the council. Again REKINDLING OF FAITH formed part of the CHARISM of St Vincent Pallotti’s UAC and SAC. And I quote: “Because of the worsening crisis of faith in his time, and because of the growth of church’s work in the missions, St Vincent Pallotti saw the urgent need to Revive Faith of Catholics, to Renew their Love and to Unite all in Christ. To achieve this objective, he considered it indispensable to secure the collaboration of all the members of the church: clergy, religious and laity, and to unify their efforts in order to promote with greater effectiveness the Apostolic mission in the church” (Pallottine Prayer book, Pg72).
In his time, there was a crisis of faith in the church during the time of French revolution. Both the ordained, professed and the laypersons abandoned their faith. St Vincent Pallotti called for the collaboration of all the baptized in the church to keep our Catholic faith alive. He calls us today as members of the union to renew and profess our faith and to witness this faith in our daily lives: to believe in Jesus Christ our Messiah, the Son of the living God the Father [our Creed has it all]. You have to ask yourselves where is your faith and how do you witness your faith. One cannot shy away or be ashamed or deny at any point in time who or what one believes in, either in private or public. The very test of faith is the same reason to witness it.
Our faith is like the light that cannot be hidden (Mat. 5:14), and the salt that should not loose its taste (Mat.5:13), so people must see your good works and praise God. The worse thing we can do is to deny our faith. One man was asked not to speak about God or risk an accommodation, and he prefers accommodation to God. The other was asked to throw away his Bible and trample on it at gunpoint and he did it to save his life but eventually he was shot dead for denying his faith (said one of the survivors). The other got rid of her rosary in order to be admitted in an occasion. Many are shy to make sign of the cross in the public. It has become obvious that many of our Catholics are lukewarm in their faith, not cold not warm, are you one of them? Can you prove it; can you defend Catholic faith before other religions or other Christians. What do you know about prayers, sacraments, catechism, forgiveness of sins, purgatory, grace, resurrection of the body, etc? Can you talk about them? Christ says: If you deny me before the public, I will deny you before my Father in heaven (Mk. 8:38). Peter wept bitterly after denying Jesus in public (Mt. 26:73-75).
The scripture says without faith no one can see God. We do not see him, yet we believe. Blessed are you who do not see but believe (Jn. 20:29). Faith was also the driving force to Christ’s miraculous works. He tests the faith by asking: Do you have faith? Do you believe? There was always test of faith: Peter started sinking when he lost faith (Mt. 14:27-33). Christ could not perform any miracles in his home town due to lack of faith (Mk. 6:1-6), he was amazed at their lack of faith. However, the hemorrhage woman touched the tip of his cloth and said if only I can touch the tip of his cloak (Mt. 9:18-22) and Jesus says, your faith has restored you. The centurion man said, I am not worthy that you enter into my roof but say only words… (Mt. 8:5-13) and Jesus replied, nowhere in Israel have I seen such faith. Other few references are as follows: [Mt. 9:2> …Seeing their faith…; 9:28> Do you believe I can do that?; 15:21-28> Woman you have a great faith; 16:13-19> Profession of faith by Peter: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; 17:20> If your faith were the size of a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you; 21:21-22> And if you have faith, everything you ask for in prayer will be received and Mk.4:39ff> Why are you so frightened, how is it that you have no faith]. We cannot ignore the father of faith, Abraham, who left his home town to unknown place (Gen.12:1-3) and would sacrifice his only son, Isaac out of the faith he had in God (Gen.22). What about the mother of faith, our Blessed Virgin Mary who believed that the promised made to her by God will be fulfilled (Lk 1:45-46). They are few examples and models of our faith in Jesus and in God. Hebrew chapter 11 listed few other models of faith. Our lives ought to be a life of faith all through. The righteous man will live by faith (Heb.10:38), and the righteous man finds life through faith (Gal.3:11).
In our own time, what are the challenges to our faith? Are they materialism, work or profession, politics, sciences, modern and high life, T.V, better and security of life itself, business, time, wealth, poverty, influence of other churches, cultures and traditions, name yours. Again, these challenges at the same time should be the test of our faith. You must be ready to suffer and make sacrifices for your faith as some of our saints did. As Pope Benedict has now called each one to renew and to rediscover the journey of ones faith this year, let us light up our candles as the sign of our faith in our diocese here and take it to our families, villages, work and business environments without compromising it. Let it be a sign of our evangelization to the world around us as Catholics. Let us make use of the little faith we have. If we believe in Christ and in his words (John 6:30, 69) and then we have believed in the one who sent him. As we celebrate the year of faith, let us implore the intercession of St Vincent Pallotti that God may uplift and strengthen our faith.
Fr Marcel Emeribe Chibuzo SAC