Keeping Faith Alive (14)


Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Sit still…..Relax…….Do not rush………

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……

Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….

Take a moment. Bless your day. Let your day Bless you……Take another moment. Bless your world. Let your world bless you……

Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good…….Now from the depth of heart, wish your mind well……

Now I invite you to consecrate this day and all that come with this day….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

I pray for you and I invite you to pray for each other and for all, who, at this moment, are receiving the gift of this new day!

We continue our meditation on keeping our faith alive. Our last meditation was on keeping our faith alive by living noble and virtuous lives, by practicing of Christian virtues. And that is what should keep our faith alive today.

It is not always easy to live noble and virtuous lives when the contrary is much simpler and easier. We live with many limitations, weaknesses and imperfections. We also live in a society that does not always encourage virtuous living. It takes courage and lots of it to live noble and virtuous lives, to keep our faith alive..

You will remember the story of Moses going up the mountain and coming down with two tablets with Ten Commandments etched on them (Exodus 32). When he came down the mountain, he saw his people dancing to the golden calf in sacrifice and worship. He became disappointed and angry and broke the tablets of commandments into bits and pieces. It was the special gift of God for him and his people that he threw away and broke into bits and pieces. He had to climb up the mountain again with two new tablets and get the commandments etched in again. Repentance, atonement and renewal had to happen all over again. New beginnings had to happen!
Moses had courage to keep his faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today.

You will remember the story of Abraham being called again to do the impossible – to sacrifice his only son, to destroy his only hope for descendants (Genesis 22). It was the gift of God that he was called to sacrifice. Abraham obeyed and remained steadfast! His unwavering faith was rewarded far beyond anything he could envision. Abraham
had courage to keep his faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today.

Remember the prophet Elijah running from Jezebel. Angel fed him on his run. He heard the voice of God again even as he ran. He found new strength and new direction (1Kings 19). Elijah found courage to keep his faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today.

Remember Jeremiah being cast him into the cistern of Malchijah which had no water but only mud, and how he sank into the mud. But he came out stronger than ever before (Jeremiah 38). Jeremiah found courage to keep his faith alive and that is how we keep our faith alive today.

Remember Amos the prophet, the dresser of sycamore and shepherd, who found strength to face the mighty kings and call them to justice (Amos 2). Amos found courage to keep his faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today

Remember many other prophets of the Old Testament and the disciples of Jesus. Many of them had to make impossible choices, choices that defied human logic. Only “Theo-Logic” could explain their choices. Only God’s Grace could enable them to make the choices they made and remain faithful, steadfast! They found courage to keep their faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today

Remember Mary, the mother Jesus and Joseph her spouse. They too had to make difficult and costly choices. They found courage to keep their faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today

Remember how the frightened men, the disciples of Jesus, found courage to proclaim the good news. They met their master who rose from the dead and they rose from their fears and doubts and anxieties and found new strength to proclaim the message of their master (Acts 1-2). They found courage to keep their faith alive and that is how we should keep our faith alive today

Yes…it does take courage and lots of it to answer God’s call and remain steadfast! It takes courage to be true, to be authentic and to be steadfast and keep our faith alive.

Courage is a virtue, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The virtue of courage, the gift of fortitude, helps us with the disappointments and frustrations that life brings. It is this gift of courage that helps us be steadfast, stand strong and persevere even when our plans are not working out, when we meet with disappointments, when hatred, jealousies, greed and other such slings and arrows surround us or when God seems silent even when we pray faithfully. It is courage that keeps our faith alive during testing and trying times.

Courage, the gift of fortitude, our spiritual muscle enables us to do the right thing and endure suffering and hardship that we face in making the good, the right, and the wise and often difficult and costly choices.

Prayerfully read about the way the following great people kept their faith alive!

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) grew up without a religious background and by age 16 decided that there was no God. She wanted to use her talents to work for social justice and scorned religion. She became a mother before marriage and the experience of carrying a new life within her brought forth a deep new faith in a loving God. When she decided to become a Catholic, the father of the child broke off the relationship. She wrote about the suffering of the poor in the Catholic magazine, Commonweal. She started the newspaper “The Catholic Worker” and sold them on the streets of New York for one cent so that everyone could afford it. She founded the first of many Catholic Worker Houses of Hospitality.

Dorothy and her staff lived in voluntary poverty, depending on God to meet their needs. She herself dressed in the used clothing that people donated to the house. Dorothy was a woman of peace, loved a philosophy of non-violence and believed that war was not compatible with the message of the Gospel. Between 1950 and 1960, she was arrested many times for refusing to go into shelter during New York’s annual air raid drills which were supposed to show people how to protect themselves in the event of nuclear war. She believed that these drills were meant to give the American people a false sense of security. Each year more and more people realized her wisdom that shelters could not protect them from nuclear war. Eventually the city cancelled the drills. Because of her remarkable spirit, Dorothy Day has been thought of as a prophet of the twentieth century.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was born in New York City (1774-1821). Her parents were wealthy and well-educated Episcopalians. They believed in helping the poor and taught Elizabeth to do so from the time she was a small child. She married a successful business man and had five healthy children. She found time to do important volunteer work and founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with small children. By the time she was thirty years old, her husband lost his business, grew seriously ill and died. Then two of her daughters died too. She did not give up! She just worked harder and prayed harder! During her husband’s illness, encouragements from her Catholic friends brought her comfort. She decided to become a catholic and in doing so lost the support of her wealthy family. Now she was a single parent with five children to care for. She did not give up! She just worked harder and prayed harder!

She became a teacher and opened the FIRST American Catholic school and then opened the FIRST American orphanage and then founded the FIRST American Order of nuns, the Sisters of Charity. Finally, she also became the FIRST “born-in-America” to be canonized a saint!

St. Josaphat (1580-1623) was the first Byzantine-rite saint to be formally canonized. As Bishop, he worked for better understanding, acceptance and fair treatment of Byzantine Catholics in Poland. One day, he offered himself in the place of the servants being beaten by an angry crowd and the crowd hit him with an ax, shot him and threw him in the river. He kept his faith alive and stirred into flame the faith of many others.

Yes…it does take courage and lots of it to answer God’s call and remain steadfast and keep our faith alive!

St. Lawrence was martyred around the year 257. Legends about Lawrence say that he spent the last days of his life selling the possessions of the community and giving the money to the poor. When the Roman official demanded that he produce the church’s wealth, Lawrence brought the blind, the lame and the needy. The official was so enraged that he ordered Lawrence roasted alive over a fire. To encourage the poor who were forced to watch, Lawrence was said to have joked, “Turn me over. I am done on this side”.

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, known as Mother Cabrinbi ((1850-1917) is the first United States citizen to be canonized. She was born in Lombardi, Italy in 1850 and died in Chicago in 1917. The religious order that educated her refused to accept her into their convent. She wanted be a missionary and go to China. At the urging of Pope Leo XIII, she came to USA to work among the Italian immigrants, going west instead of east. She traveled with six sisters to New York City to work with the Italian immigrants.

She found disappointment and difficulties with every step. When she arrived in New York City, the house intended to be her first orphanage in the United States was not available. The archbishop advised her to return to Italy. But Frances, truly a courageous woman, departed from the archbishop’s residence all the more determined to establish that orphanage. And she did.

She said, “The whole world is not enough for me” and she traveled from New Jersey to Seattle, from Chicago to New Orleans and to many parts of the world crossing the Ocean 30 times. And she was afraid of water! She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1880 and founded schools, hospitals and orphanages in USA for the care of Italian immigrants and children. By the time she died there were 67 schools, orphanages and hospitals in different parts of the world.

Oscar Romero (1917-1980) was born in El Salvador and became Archbishop of San Salvador. He was a source of strength and hope for the poor and for the oppressed of his country, working with and for them, taking their struggles as his own. Romero wrote and spoke passionately and publicly of the need for Christians to work for justice, frequently faced with threat and danger from those who opposed his ideas. On March 24, 1980, while celebrating the Eucharist, Archbishop Romero was shot and killed at the altar by a death squad assassin, paying the highest price for the commitment about which he spoke so often and so eloquently. Because of his courageous stand for justice, he became a martyr not only for poor Salvadorians but for all struggling to overcome oppression and poverty. The example of Romero’s courageous life and death continue to inspire those who struggle for human dignity and justice.

Let us strive to be true to ourselves, to be authentic in all we say and do, to be steadfast in living our faith and keep our faith alive. May the “Year of Faith” be God’s wonderful gift to you and I pray that you will make it a gracious and joyful gift to others.

Keep your faith alive and your faith will keep you alive!

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs



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