Competing for the faith: Putting God first
At this time of year, our household, along with hundreds of others in America, is consumed with children's activities as programs begin anew.
For my eighth-grader, these consist of a new school term, soccer season, and, this year, Confirmation preparation. Each has its own set of registration forms, permission slips, participation fees, and schedules of meetings and practices.
Given the way these things work and the busyness of our family's life, it's pretty easy to take the path of least resistance and treat preparation for the sacrament as simply one more extracurricular activity. Unfortunately, having observed other families in my situation, it seems that the enthusiasm for competitive sports at any level often far outweighs that for sacramental catechesis.
Amos 6:1a, 4-7
in Ordinary Time
(Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007)
Psalms 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Without picking on overextended parents, criticizing particular parish programs, or denigrating youth sports programs and their benefits, I must admit that the idea of "competing" for the faith and "laying hold of eternal life," featured in the reading from 1 Timothy, makes me pause.
What would it be like if Christians really and truly "laid hold of" the gift of faith and its sacramental confession made "in the presence of many witnesses," with the same fervor that we bring to our many entertainments and creature comforts?
What if the complacency of consumerist America, like that of the Zion of Amos or the Palestine of Jesus, were supplanted with zeal for the justice and mercy of the Lord? What if I personally allowed that kind of enthusiasm to break through the barricade of my own narrow concerns?
In what ways have you become too complacent or absorbed in your own narrow concerns to appreciate the gift of faith you've been given?
What is God calling you to become more enthusiastic about?
The word "enthusiasm," according to its Greek roots, means "in possession by a god." I've also heard it explained this way: "en" + "theos" (in God) ending with I.A.S.M. (I am sold myself).
May we be so thoroughly "sold" on God's reign and so possessed by God's spirit that the daily disposition of all our time and resources - from children's soccer practices to caring for the poor in our midst - truly becomes the stuff of eternal life to which we lay claim.
This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.
This week's readings
Week of Sept. 30 - Oct. 6, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Am 6:1a, 4-7
Reading II: 1 Tm 6:11-16
Gospel: Lk 16:19-31
Monday, October 1, 2007
Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church
Reading I: Zec 8:1-8
Gospel: Lk 9:46-50
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Memorial of the Guardian Angels
Reading I: Zec 8:20-23
Gospel: Mt 18:1-5, 10
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Reading I: Neh 2:1-8
Gospel: Lk 9:57-62
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious
Reading I: Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12
Gospel: Lk 10:1-12
Friday, October 5, 2007
Reading I: Bar 1:15-22
Gospel: Lk 10:13-16
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Reading I: Bar 4:5-12, 27-29
Gospel: Lk 10:17-24
Pope's Prayer Intentions
September General Intention
Romanian Assembly. That the ecumenical assembly in Romania this month may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians.
September Mission Intention
Missionaries. That, following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life.
A Prayer in Autumn for Country Living
GOOD and generous Lord, You have once more brought the year full circle, through planting and growing and ripening to harvest time, and autumn.
We thank You for the sun and the wind, the rain and the dew, the minerals of the earth and all the plants that grow and all the beasts and birds of farm and field. We marvel at Your wonderful ways of bringing food from the earth for the good of us all.
Dear God, help us to use Your rich gifts as You want us to. Teach us to share them with our neighbors when they are in need. Make us see, in the marvelous succession of seasons and in the growth and ripening of our crops, the merciful, generous hand of Your divine providence.
Help us to realize, too, that if we keep Your commandments and live according to the inspirations of Your grace, we shall also reap a plentiful harvest in the autumn of our lifetime: a harvest that we will be able to enjoy for ever and ever, where no rust can destroy, nor blight spoil any least part of it.
Prayer courtesy of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference