What does it mean to believe?

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By Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R.

IMG_2637  Road to St. Joseph parish, John D’Or Prairie, Northern AlbertaWhat does it mean to believe? What difference do you think it makes in your life that you are a Christian, or a Catholic? How is your life different from the life of someone who has no faith? Is it sufficient to believe in goodness and justice and equality and the environment?

Does being a Christian (a follower of Christ) mean that you have to be holy, like a saint or something? Can you laugh and have fun? What does it mean personally, between the Christian and Jesus? Can you be a Christian without the Church? After all, the Church is filled with some very sinful people. Am I not better off just believing on my own and praying in my own way? I’m sure God still hears my prayers, right? If I am a Catholic, do I have to believe everything the Church teaches? Or can I believe my own truths and add on Christian teachings to sort of “fill it out a bit”?

At the end of November, we marked the end of the Year of Faith. Cardinal Levada pointed out that “every year is a year of faith.” We need always to ponder the meaning of faith in our life. This lasts our whole life long. Jesus himself said in the Sermon on the Mount,

“everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R., is shepherd of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan in Northern Alberta.