Living your faith is something which fewer and fewer of us are doing today. We continually make compromises in our lives and place other things before God. I know, I know – not you right? I used to think so too – I’m still working on fixing it to this day. But seriously, when we fail to live our faith publicly it’s like lighting a candle then covering it a black box so nobody can see it. Faith is not something you practice just on sundays for 45 mins, maybe longer if the priest in long-winded in his homily. Faith is meant to be LIVED and not PRACTICED. Catholicism most especially, is meant to be integrated into our everyday life, in our homes, in our jobs, at the market, in every single thing we do each day.
This does not mean that we carry a bible, wear a honkin’ crucifix, sling a rosary through our belt and wander the streets admonishing sinners. Rather, this means we do the exact opposite. St. Francis said to “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary”. This important because we live our faith through our actions, not our words. Modesty is always good. That bible toting routine is not modest – the little rabbit foo foo method of spreading the gospel (by banging people eon the head with it) is not the answer. More importantly, this change is about you and not them. This is about change on the inside more than the outside. It’s a challenge with some fantastic rewards, even if you never get there but just keep trying.
We start with the small things. St. Therese said to do little things with great love. Little things are easier. You can pick just a few and start there, and then expand. You can do them while: preparing a meal, disciplining a child, dealing with a coworker, showing compassion for a stranger, performing your job, cleaning the house, even choosing groceries, or interacting with your spouse. You see those little things form the foundation for the big things. If you can’t take a little step successfully, then how can you expect to make a huge leap? Nobody expects you to be perfect, just to try to do everything with great love – nothing more. It is that conscious effort to do things with great love that is so powerful, and perspective changing. You’ll probably start feeling happier and more content in general after a relatively short time. This is the part where you discover the joy of serving God by serving others.
Next work on the moral conflicts in your life. Anytime you find yourself reasoning out why breaking a small moral rule is alright – STOP RIGHT THERE. Recognize that you are rationalizing it. Then reconcile the fact that you cannot be faithful in big things until you have learned to be faithful in small ones. This can mean many things for many people. Some examples to get you stated are lying, cheating, stealing, imagined adultery, even skipping church on Sunday so you can make a ball game. What are you saying to your children if you do that? That ball games are more important than God? Teach them instead to get up extra early for mass, or attend the vigil the night before. Show them that God comes first, your example will drive their own understanding of the faith – make it a good one. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in your faith as well.
You’ll find as you focus on the small things the bigger things seem to fall into place on their own. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make when you make a conscious effort to do things for your wife with great love, not to just do them. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself doing everything for her with great love, when she sees your example and follows you in this practice it will fundamentally change your relationship for the better. It will improve your performance at work, your interactions with others, your compassion, your faith, and most importantly your happiness.
Yours in Christ,