Synodal cries for faith development must not go unanswered, writes Jason Osborne
One of the key themes to emerge from the Church’s synodal journey so far is the need for comprehensive, ambitious faith formation. Many of those who’ve turned out have expressed a deep desire to better know and understand their faith. At the local, national, and international level, the necessity of better resources and more opportunities for faith formation has been highlighted, with expressions of this need voiced throughout the latest continental synodal document.
Why is this desire being given such voice now, from so many different people in so many different places? There are doubtlessly many reasons for this, but put plainly: for a long time, for many people, the Catholic Faith has simply been the done thing. Whether people had questions or not, little explanation of the same faith that we hold today was forthcoming. And questions are absolutely valid, as Catholicism makes bold claims that, in today’s world, aren’t self-evident and require explanation.
At the same time, our hearts have never stopped yearning for God. The first chapter of the Catechism tells us that, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.
“Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for,” it reads. Whether we understand fully the Church and its teachings or not, the same desire for God and spiritual satisfaction pulls undeniably at everyone’s heart. Far from leaving the Church just because we’re not perfectly clear on everything it stands for, many of us with questions remain out of a desire to receive the things the Church promises: God’s love, his healing touch, prayer, community and more.
The clash between our longing for a home in the Church, though, and our questions is coming to a head. As the positions the Church takes grate against commonly-held opinion, the unformed image of God, his Church and all of its teachings that many of us hold are seeming less and less up to scratch.
Where is heaven, when our telescopes show us the endless expanse of space stretching out seemingly forever? How are we to rise from the dead when we die and our bodies decompose in the ground? Why does the Church insist on resisting much of the social change that so many of our family and friends support? The answers to all of these questions and more are there to be found, as greater minds than ours have grappled with variations of the same in their own times.
It’s with this in mind that The Irish Catholic presents its new section for faith development, ‘Your Faith’. Each week will see columns from a variety of new and familiar voices seeking to answer common questions about the Catholic Faith and spirituality, as well as explaining long-held but difficult to understand practices and traditions the Church encourages. It will give us glimpses at the place of faith in our culture, our history and more. May God bless our efforts to grow closer to him and one another