Why do we have an obligation to become more formed in our faith? What’s wrong with ‘keeping it simple’ and getting on with life at the level of catechesis, understanding or formation that we have attained to? Why should formation continue for life?
If you’re tempted to ask these questions, perhaps it will help to take a look at each of the other aspects of the Golden Rose charism.
If you accept the need to evangelise, remember that it is impossible to give what you don’t have. We need to be formed in order to bring people to encounter Christ, and we need to be formed well in order to continue to lead them deeper in this encounter. Jesus doesn’t expect your personal relationship with Him to stagnate as you seek to share His love with others. That doesn’t mean He can’t use you straight away where and as you are – He will of course! But it does mean that you have a responsibility to seek to grow so as to be able to answer more questions, teach deeper levels of truth, communicate more aspects of the message and give better advice. Faith formation is where we take that growth seriously.
If you accept the need to grow in virtue as a Christian, then it’s necessary to have a firm grasp of what the virtues are, the moral teaching of the Church and Scripture, and the witness and example of the Saints. When you engage wholeheartedly in intellectual faith formation, this does two things to serve your moral development:
1) It gives a roadmap and fuel for the journey. That is it, makes the vision of what you are aiming towards clearer and increases its power to attract your heart – making it easier to will.
2) It develops your ‘muscles’ in straining towards the good, true, and beautiful. When you step back from the rush and routine to deliberately engage your mind in coming to know Christ and His Church better, you choose not to be dictated to by the prevailing currents of whatever is thrown at you (good or bad). Rather, the study in itself is an exercise in taking authority over what your mind is directed to and at what pace. And this in turn will increase your capacity to respond in real life situations in the freedom of the Holy Spirit.
If you accept the need to develop your prayer life, remember that prayer must always take place in the context of a relationship with God – and there are two aspects to consider when it comes to relating to Him. We need to always seek to know God as He is. This knowledge, of course, can be directly communicated in the personal encounter that we experience in prayer. But grace builds on nature. Whilst God can communicate truths to us without any work on our part, He delights in our seeking to do what is within our power to come to know and understand. Our prayer is served by our mind taking time to ponder the Word, engage intelligently with that Word’s implications, and grow and develop in community by learning from the wisdom of others. These things help us to pray, because they help us to know and to understand. It is never enough to know about God – we must know Him personally. However it is also necessary to know about Him in order to be able to discern that our experience of Him is grounded Truth. Our prayer life is served by us bringing to the table a deeper understanding. Faith formation helps us to develop this.
All those reasons considered… it is time to dive in!
Seeds for Formation Roses