I’m editing the last 50 pages of my book, and then it’s done! Praise God! I noticed it’s been a little slow here lately; so thought I’d share Part 6 of the book with my friends in this forum. Terry might find it particularly interesting with your experience in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Everyone, feel free to share any feedback. I’ll post it a chapter at a time, so you can let me know your thoughts after each post. Part VI: Living Faith After getting Liane and the kids off to school this morning, I took my Rosary and went for a walk. It’s August, monsoon season here in Arizona, and it was already hot and muggy at eight in the morning – not pleasant for walking. But that’s life; we’ve got to keep on walking, even when it’s not any fun. As I began to pray and considered how to proceed with my story, I reflected on our progress so far; we’ve covered a lot of territory. I prayed the first Hail Mary for the virtue of faith. In the first two parts of this book, I shared with you how as a young man I rejected the faith I’d been taught to believe, and how for over twenty years, I went my own way and lived a very secular life; how the birth of our son touched my heart, and of my struggle to make sense of his death; how this led me to begin searching for the truth; and how I eventually came to embrace the one true God who is love and to give my life to Him. In the following three parts, you walked with me these past seven years since Johnny’s death. I revealed my realization that giving my life to God required that I reject the idol that I had worshipped for so long – bike racing. Now, there’s nothing wrong with cycling, or any other sport, as long as they’re kept in the proper perspective; but for me, bike racing had become an idol, because it had become more important than anything else. What’s truly amazing is how easy it was for me to give it up! For the better part of fifteen years, the bike had consumed my life, but I gave it to God just like that! Only by the grace of God… The time previously spent training and racing left a big hole in my life – I had a lot of time on my hands, and I filled it seeking a deeper relationship with God. We examined what it means to be a Christian: the believer seeks to know God... We talked about the ways of coming to know God: through the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts when we pray, when we read the sacred scriptures, and when we worship together as a community; we also recognize God in the little everyday signs He gives us when we seek to follow Him, and when we see the difference He makes in the lives of others. Together, we prayed the Rosary, and I shared how meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries helped me at a time when I was in great pain. By reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice, I was able to make sense of my personal anguish and of everything wrong I saw in the world. In offering my grief to Jesus on the cross, I was able to find the strength to go on. We reflected on the great Communion of Saints that we are all of us a part of. We’re all of us God’s children, part of a great big family; none of us are alone; God has given us to each other to help each other climb the mountain of holiness. After all, how can we learn to love, to give of ourselves to others, unless we’re a part of each other’s lives? That’s what this life is all about: sanctification – to become saints, to be made holy. That’s the work we’re meant to do in this life. This morning, as I prayed that first Hail Mary for the virtue of faith, I realized that I had indeed come to believe – God had given me faith. I’ve never seen the Lord in a great light, nor have I experienced an illumination of conscience. I’ve never seen Jesus in an after-death experience, but He has given me countless little graces and signs. And as I walked and prayed this morning, I looked up at the sky and saw a cloud in the shape of an upside-down cross. Immediately I thought of Saint Peter, the rugged fisherman with a good heart, the Disciple to whom the Father revealed that Jesus is the Christ, the leader of the early Church who was crucified upside-down. Now that cross-shaped cloud was just a cloud, but God gives us signs through nature; the Supernatural directs the natural. It was the timing: a cross – the symbol of our faith – appeared in the sky just as I’m praying for faith. An unbeliever can dismiss it as coincidence, but the believer knows that when it comes to God, there are no coincidences. There are some who have seen and believe, but most of us must walk by faith; for as Jesus told my Confirmation Saint, Thomas the Apostle, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” That’s faith. We pray the second Hail Mary for the virtue of hope. Six years ago, when I first came to believe, my faith gave me hope; but my hope was not in this life, it lay somewhere in the future, to the time after my death when I would be happy with God forever in the next life. Now, however, my every day is filled with hope. Now I understand there’s a meaning and a purpose to this life. Life is not sport, and it’s not one big party; life is not a beach. We’re all of us given a mission in this life, and every day is a gift, an opportunity to fulfill that mission. Again I’m reminded of Father Jim’s words at Johnny’s funeral mass: “He’s doing God’s work now.” And here in this life, that’s what we’re meant to do: God’s work. This brings us to the third Hail Mary which we pray for the virtue of charity. Up to this point, my story has been about coming to find faith, and in the ways we come to know God. But this is just the beginning of our journey as Christians. Remember, the believer seeks to know God and do His will; to believe means to act; living faith works through charity. ♦ ♦ ♦ I’m aware that some Christians mistakenly think that we Catholics believe we earn our way to Heaven by doing good works. This is NOT what the Church teaches; the Catholic Church very clearly teaches that our salvation comes from God alone, through the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians believe this. If we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are promised everlasting life. We are saved by grace, and the Apostle Paul goes on to tell the Ephesians that we are saved through faith, and our faith is a gift from God. Since we are saved by faith and not by works, does this mean that we don’t need works? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. We are not saved by works, but rather our works are a product of our faith. A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner." Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?" Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." --Luke 7: 36-50 The sinful woman’s works – the washing and anointing of Jesus’ feet – were the result of her faith. She showed great love. If we have faith, we will have great love. Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will keep the Commandments; He tells us that if we believe in Him, we will do the works that He does. “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do…” (John 14: 12). ♦ ♦ ♦ One day a few months before little Isabella’s fifth birthday, we were headed up the stairs when she stopped and said, “Carry me!” I chuckled and told her, “No, you can walk.” “Carry me!” she cried, but I didn’t pick her up. It would have been an easy thing for me to do, but if I carry her all the time, she’ll never learn to stand on her own two legs. I could take care of her and coddle her, but if I do everything for her, she’ll never learn to do anything for herself… or anyone else. The Lord didn’t put us here to be served; He calls us to be servants – to do good works. We must walk. “He is always using His creatures as instruments to carry on His work in souls.” --St. Therese of Lisieux ♦ ♦ ♦ The family and I are off for 3 days of fun and camping on the beach!