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LIFE MATTERS: The Business of Faith

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By Dr. Dencio S. Acop

These are some of the things that having faith does. For one, it is about being part of a community that is committed to sustaining the order created by the Author of Life. For another, it helps us put on the mind of God which helps us understand the wider scope of things and thus, the meaning of life. And yet another, it frees us from slavery. No matter what we think, we are not gods. We are part of an existence designed into being by an intelligibility beyond our human understanding. Part of this divine intelligibility has been revealed to us 2,000 years ago and it has put order into the affairs of humanity. Not that the order of the universe depended upon humanity, but that humanity may survive in the universe. Be that as it may, it seems inconceivable therefore that some of mankind still choose the path of disorder even if such is ultimately not to their best interest. After the ravages of two world wars, mankind did finally see a few golden decades of relative peace and prosperity brought about by a moral order. But all this is now changing. Perhaps, it is because the generations who were impacted by the wars have died out. Maybe, technology is something we all like but cannot handle in the end. Nevertheless, man’s supplanting of God’s domain is vastly disordered and its consequences for mankind may be unthinkable. The biggest usurpation of God began in 1973 when man institutionalized the killing of babies. Even when the legitimacy of that legislation was proven false, other challenges to divine power have since taken place. Today, institutionalized killing is no longer confined to the unborn. Euthanasia and medically assisted suicide are on the rise. Catholic publishing company OSV reported that some states in the US and Canada are passing bills to this effect. Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis lamented this ‘culture of death’ and ‘false compassion’ being propagated by the secular culture. Happy are those who still respect the dignity of life and are not so eager to end it in the name of materialistic expediency. 

Having faith helps us understand the larger scope of things and thus, the meaning of life on this earth. There was a time when man did not know God, or the one true God. Men were either atheists or pagans. Then man began to know divine revelation gradually starting from the 8th century BC. The coming into the world of the Messiah through Jesus Christ completed the prophecies of divine revelation. Thus, the moral order came to be specifically through the Decalogue of the Old Testament and the Beatitudes from the New Testament. Peter, the preeminent among Jesus’ twelve disciples, became the ‘rock’ of what would become Christ’s mystical body on earth that continued on to this day. From a faith just among the converted Jews in Palestine, Christianity spread throughout the world among the Gentiles beginning with St Paul’s missionary work soon replicated by the other disciples. Thus, this missionary Christian church became catholic (meaning ‘universal’) as differentiated from the Eastern Orthodox church. With the Roman Empire’s adoption of Christianity as its religion in the 4th century AD, Christianity spread throughout Europe and went even beyond with the Spanish and Portuguese explorer voyages of the 15th and 16th centuries AD dividing the world map east and west of the Treaty of Tordesillas’ line of demarcation. The converted pagan rulers became monarchs and it would have been fitting if the rulers actually behaved like true Christians. At any rate and by any means necessary given the fallen nature of man, the concept of state rulers becoming benevolent leaders appears to make sense and, in some cases and for a time, actually did. The benevolent nature of God would have caught on and transformed all nations through their leaders to live in peace and contentment among all other nations and with one another. Later, monarchies became democracies. And for a time, this liberal order worked. But actually, it only worked because the ruled domestic populations had become moralized by Christianity. When societal morals soon receded, even democracies could no longer live and prosper according to benevolent dictates as both leader and led became infected with the secular ‘me first’ virus. With its descent into the abyss of immoral or amoral darkness, the world is once again beset by confusion and despair. The meaning of life is lost. 

Finally, having faith frees us from slavery. We all are born slaves due to our fallen nature. Though our birth finds us in innocence, such naivete is soon replaced by the inevitability of our self-absorption. Unless we become baptized opening up the floodgate of graces pouring into our lives to un-slave us, we remain slaves to our sins. As John 8:32 reveals, only ‘the truth shall set us free’. For truth is freedom and attachment to our sins is slavery. That is why the Catholic Church is organized, structured, staffed, and operationalized through the workings of the Holy Spirit in the 7 Sacraments based on the institution by Christ. In order to save souls and stick to the truth as far as man has been able to understand divine revelation from the Incarnate Son himself. It all makes sense. Once baptized, a Christian receives the Holy Eucharist which is the source and summit of the Christian life. This essential (all sacraments are essential) sacrament is repeated over and over again in every celebration of the Holy Mass. Then there is Confirmation for all to ensure every baptized understands the meaning of his/her baptism. In God’s time in a person’s life, the sacrament of Holy Matrimony blesses a man and woman who decide to marry entering into a covenant with God in order to successfully raise a good family. This is very strategic as the family is the basic unit of any society. Good families make up good societies and nations. Because we become slaves to our sins, we need to break free and the sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation sets the stage for our redemption again and again by our benevolent Father. How often should we go? As often as each one feels the need to. Towards the end of our lifetimes when we become frail and dying or are about to go into risk, we will encounter the sacrament of Holy Anointing. There is also the sacrament of Holy Orders but it is only for those to be ordained priests. We need priests and nuns in this world like it needed the prophets and the saints of old. We need them to bring our prayers to God and be our living intercessors apart from the Blessed Mother and all the saints who help bring our prayers and case to God. Being a follower of Christ is not easy. Carrying a cross, like Jesus did, not to mention enduring torture and humiliation, is almost impossible for many of us. But we will carry that cross. For we all must die. Sorry to disappoint, but living a good life will hardly merit worldly wealth, power, honor, or pleasure. It is the truth. But it will merit the smile of Jesus. This is the business of faith.                             

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