Seven steps to a deeper faith

I prepared a little mission statement and annual plan for this blog for 2014. It goes like this:

Mission: In 2014 I want to achieve a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for my life.

Objective: To achieve this I will document here life’s little miracles as they happen to and around me.

Kind of formal, but mission statements can be that way. Obviously these will be miracles that happen to me and to people I know. But, I’d like to hear from you, too, and to share your miracles, as well.

Why miracles? Let me first give some examples of what I’m talking about.

Early in 2013 my husband and I were climbing into a cab to the airport. We were headed out of town for a New Year’s get-away. As we climbed in, his cell phone rang. Our son was calling to tell us that he and his wife had made an emergency run to the hospital in the middle of the night and their baby girl had just been born…several months early.

By our Lord’s intervention we were able to return to town and see and hold her for a few minutes of her short life. We were able to grieve with and comfort her parents as she passed. And we were all able eventually to begin healing some of our fractured family relationships and deepen our faith.

Later in the year, our son passed along to us a book by Father James Martin, The Jesuit’s Guide to (Almost) Everything. The messages in this book and several others by Fr. Martin spoke directly to my heart (see other of my descriptions of these here and here).

These miracles were big ones for me. They were obvious and easily identifiable as miracles as they were evolving, right then and there. But, life is full of little miracles every day…convenient parking spots at just the right time, answers to prayer, serendipitous phone calls, chance encounters….otherwise infuriating traffic slow downs that result in missing a police speed trap. We don’t always pay much attention to them.

So, what do I mean by noticing these miracles? And what purpose will this serve?

First, I want to recognize these little miracles and acknowledge them. Sometimes our lives seem to move so fast. Things happen, and we don’t stop long enough to understand or appreciate the gifts that we’ve been given.

Next, I want to savor these little gifts from God, considering all the aspects of their influence and effect on my life.

Then, I want to write them down, so I won’t forget them. Because if these experiences, these little miracles, are memorialized somewhere permanent, I can cherish them later and savor them over and over again.

I want to give thanks for them and allow myself time to feel a sense of gratitude for how gracious and loving our God is…even when we’re not paying attention or asking Him for His help or intervention.

Finally, I want to share them with others. Recognition of how God is working in our lives strengthens our faith. Others’ understanding of how God has worked in our lives can strengthen their faith. Having the opportunity to help strengthen another’s faith is still another miracle. All are gifts from our Father.

In his book Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints, Fr. Martin imagines Jesus (as one who is fully human and fully divine) only gradually coming to understand His mission on earth.

“But even after his stay in the desert, there still seems a lingering reticence in Jesus to embrace his mission. For what is traditionally considered as his first miracle seems a distinctly reluctant one. There he is at the wedding feast at Cana when the wine runs out…When his mother points this out to him, in effect, suggesting that he do something, Jesus says, somewhat caustically, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” (John 2:4). In other words, what does this have to do with me? I’m not the person you want! I’m not yet the person I am called to be! Here Jesus may still be grappling with his mission, with his vocation, and with his true self….

…he tells the steward to fill large earthen jars with water and serve the guests. But it is not water that comes out of the jars, it is wine. It is his first miracle.

I have always wondered if Jesus himself wasn’t surprised by his first miracle…

…The fruits of one’s ministry and one’s life are often astonishing, and the hand of God can be seen as clear as day, even when the results are simple ones. How much more surprising, then, might the miracle at Cana have been for Jesus!”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says

“The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.”

Similarly, the little “signs” in our every day life attest to our Father’s love and affection for us. So, too, do they invite our belief. So, too, might we bear witness to His presence and work in our lives by sharing these experiences with others.

Miracles, recognizing them, acknowledging them, understanding them, savoring them, memorializing them, cherishing them, sharing them with others, all help to deepen our faith. In deepening our faith we deepen our understanding of God purpose for our lives.

One response to “Seven steps to a deeper faith”

  1. […] began this year, 2014, planning to document the little miracles of my life as they occur along the way. And there have been so many: Our daughter’s job loss and her subsequent move and reemployment; […]

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