By Leon Suprenant | June 28, 2007
After all, there are many important causes to rally around right now. Why not Catholics United for the Right to Life? Catholics United for Social Justice? Catholics United for Clean Air? Catholics United for Peace? Catholics United for Liturgical Reverence?
These and many other causes are eminently worthwhile, but CUF’s mission is even more fundamental, more radical. It’s a mission that goes to the heart of the matter, as our faith in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ is what gives these other causes their ultimate meaning and context.
Or to put it more bluntly in Clintonesque terms: “It’s the faith, stupid!”
When faced with divurging opinions we might talk about finding “common ground.” As the late Cardinal Hickey once noted, our true common ground as Catholics is the deposit of faith—what the Lord has revealed to us through His Church for our salvation. Our faith is Catholic—it’s meant for all peoples and cultures. But diversity without this “common ground” is Babel, not Pentecost.
The faith is a reality that’s not dependent on my accepting it or rejecting it. Jesus is either the Son of God, or He isn’t. There is one God in three persons, or there isn’t. Jesus gave authority in His Church to His Apostles and their successors, or He didn’t. And so on. Objective truth is not affected by my own personal views. After all, I’m not God. And neither are you.
The Credo, or Creed (and not just the one of Pope Paul VI, but also other creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed we say at Mass) reflects the objective, perennial faith of the Church. We believe that the Church has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide successive generations of believers into all truth.
And so the faith is not something we make up, as though the Creed were some sort of spiritual salad bar. Rather, it’s about our acceptance through the Church of God’s revelation in Christ.
But faith is also a personal, subjective reality. I can legitimately refer to my faith. Jesus Christ truly is my—and your—Lord and Savior with whom we are called to a very personal relationship.
Yet, as Christians we enter into the reality of eternity, not create it. Christ came to change us with His saving truth, not to be changed according to our own natural inclinations.
Each one of us is called to appropriate the faith and make it my faith. It begins with the new life we receive at Baptism, but doesn’t end until the Lord calls us home. But to the extent my faith doesn’t correspond with the faith, my faith needs to change, not the faith.
I went on a little longer than I originally intended on “the faith.” But that’s what we’re about here, and what ultimately is more important to talk about than our Christian faith?
By the way, we just published a wonderful book that’s relevant to this discussion by the great Newman scholar Fr. Ian Ker. It’s called Mere Catholicism and it’s available now through Emmaus Road: (http://www.emmausroad.org/Mere-Catholicism-P7440C0.aspx).