Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Faith, Our Light

Pope Francis' first encyclical letter, Lumen Fidei, The Light of Faith offers much wisdom for living our faith. To unpack all the wisdom in the Pope's writing, gifted authors open the door of faith to allow more of that spiritual light to shine on our souls. Father Scott Hurd, a Virginia based Catholic priest, is one of those gifted writers. Father Scott Hurd's newest book, "When Faith Feels Fragile", delves into the times in our lives when grief, poor health, spiritual dryness or any manner of tempest rattles our soul.  Father spoke at our Alexandria, Virginia book and media center last Thursday evening. Comparing our life of faith to a marriage, he explained that many people are looking for that first love, the first fervor, the honeymoon feeling between themselves and God. Feelings do come, but they also go.Father was describing
how some cannot rest until they retrieve a bit of the "spiritual high" they felt when they began to pray more seriously. Faith is more than a feeling. The virtue is a gift of God to each of the baptized. It is also like a muscle to be exercised every day. I recommend reading Father Hurd's latest offering. He began his ministry as an Episcopalian married priest. Several years ago he entered the Roman Catholic Church. He works especially in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. His book is available from Pauline books & Media, Pauline Books & Media

Monday was the Feast of the Holy Rosary. The Feast commemorated the victory of Christians led by Don Juan of Austria at the port of Lepanto in 1571. A large Christian fleet was challenged by an invading fleet of fast ships and skilled warriors. Pope Pius V had asked all of Christendom to pray the rosary for victory. Defeat would have meant slavery, death, forced conversions, as well as loss of property. Christianity or die. There were no speedy communications systems to alert the Pope as to who won. Yet the day of the battle, in the midst of a meeting, he paused and said, "Let us thank God for the victory of today." He seemed to have had a vision of what really happened. Out of 300 ships, only 40 enemy ships returned.
That battle was over 400 years ago. There are daily spiritual battles in each one's lives. There are also more dramatic events when individuals came through victorious because of their devotion to praying the rosary. If you have not read it yet, read the story of  Immaculee Illigabiza, a Rwandan survivor of that country's genocide. She and a small group of women lived through days of hiding from the horror around them. Immaculee testified that she prayed the rosary constantly for herself and for all around her. Now she speaks in defense of forgiveness and reconciliation.

In the early part of the 20th century Mary appeared in Fatima, Portugal to ask people to pray the rosary, to
do penance, to lead better Christian lives. I know in my own life, the rosary has helped me in many ways. It roots me in the gospel by reminding me of what Mary and Jesus did for us. When I take a daily walk, I pray the rosary as I go along the streets. The rosary keeps me focused and less distracted. May we all spend the rest of this month of October growing in faith and in prayer with our rosary in hand.

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