Saturday, April 9, 2016

Daily Thought For April 9, 2016

Are We Deeply Rooted in Christ?

POPE BENEDICT HAS FREQUENTLY SPOKEN ABOUT faith as the foundation of all Catholic life and put particular emphasis on this fundamental truth when he designated an entire year devoted to growth in faith. This call to faith is not an optional extra for our daily prayer. In highlighting faith, Pope Benedict has chosen wisely and well in the power of the Holy Spirit. Each of us is being called to a level of faith we have not known before. The Holy Spirit seeks to increase and, in fact, to fan into a flame this gift of faith given in Baptism. This booklet will show us the absolute necessity to do all we can to respond to the grace God is offering us so that the roots of our faith may go deeper in Christ to sustain us in the battles ahead. 

Let me give you a very concrete example from nature of the power of living faith. Many years ago when I was teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville, I lived on a street that had a literal canopy of large, strong, and beautiful trees lining both sides of the street for six or seven blocks. One day while on campus at the University a very sudden and unexpected wind storm arose. It blew across Steubenville in a matter of minutes and did significant damage. When I was able, I returned to our house, only to find seven blocks of utter devastation. All the trees had been blown over, one falling on another. I stared at the effects of that wind and noticed that the uprooted trees all had very shallow roots. For years I have used the example of those trees as I speak to people about making sure that their roots are not shallow; that they are planted deeply into Christ. The trees looked good but they were actually very vulnerable since they did not have a solid foundation. 

Just before writing this booklet, I was speaking in a Midwestern city and used this example of the trees. When the talk ended a man came up to me and asked me if I knew why those roots were so shallow. I replied that I assumed it was the type of tree. "No," he said, "The trees' roots were shallow because they were never tested." He explained that when trees have to search for water they put their roots down very deep to find it. The toppled trees never had to search for water. The water was plentiful, abundant. Only when the trees have to seek what they need do they grow .... very strong and are able to endure when a storm or calamity hit them. 

I think the application to us is quite clear. In North America we have enjoyed freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom to grow in Christian countries. As a result, we have been able to take some things for granted. In our history our forefathers had to fight for these freedoms; our soldiers fight today to maintain those freedoms. But we have not, as a people, had to eke out an existence in war torn towns and villages and cities. Most of us have not watched our children starve to death; we have not had loved ones die unspeakable deaths with no one to comfort and provide for them in their suffering. Many, many people in the world have experienced such sorrows. As a nation, we have not really been tested in this way. As a result, for most of us our roots collectively and personally, are very shallow. Much has been given to us but the day is coming when we will be examined-each of us. Are our roots in Christ shallow or deep? Can we withstand the storms of persecution? Can we persevere in Christ, letting our roots go deeper and deeper in Him as the winds break over us? How strong am I in the truth? How deep is my daily prayer in nourishing my roots in Christ? Are the roots of my life so deep in Christ that I can withstand the storm by His power and grace? Are my roots in Christ or are they in my achievements, my possessions, my influence, my job, my bank account, and my friends? Do I understand that ultimately none of those things will be able to strengthen me in the midst of a terrible storm? Where will I look for my security? Keep these questions in mind as you read this booklet and use it as a handbook for faith, a guide to help you grow and deepen your roots in Christ. 

from Faith More Precious Than Gold by Sister Ann Shield, S.G.L. pp.1-3