A strong faith is a grace and a gift from the Lord about which you cannot be silent. Pope Francis gave a homily on April 6, 2013 in which he asked, “How is our faith? Is it strong? Or is it sometimes a bit like rosewater, a faint faith? Our faith is as we say it in the Creed. When we start to dilute our faith, to negotiate the faith, to sell it to the highest bidder, we start on the road to apostasy, of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
I have always believed in God because I was blest to have a mother who prayed with me each night at bedtime and a father who often professed the Golden Rule. Both parents saw to it that my brothers and I went to Mass each Sunday. My parents gave me the foundation I needed for the beginning of my faith. There has never been a time in my life when I did not believe in God; however, I did not often express my belief in public until seven years ago when I had an encounter with God that changed my faith from something like rosewater to a strong faith that I am confident and joyful to proclaim.
I had an encounter with God seven years ago that led to many questions, the foremost being “Was that you, God?” God answered my question through Scripture on Sept. 27, 2008. When I heard that Pope Francis was coming to Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 2015, the seventh anniversary of my encounter with the living God, I knew I had to be there. By the grace of God I was able to make the pilgrimage to Philadelphia on a bus with 50 other Catholics. Among the pilgrims was a friend of over 40 years with whom my husband and I have shared all the joys and sorrows of our adult lives. Another pilgrim was a priest. He celebrated Mass with us and led us in saying the rosary. I got to know several other pilgrims on our bus and I had the pleasure of seeing their expressions of faith through actions. Receiving Communion at the papal Mass was the summit of my pilgrimage.Pope Francis is a human being like the rest of us, but people are attracted to him because it is so easy to see Christ in him. He not only speaks of his Christian faith – he lives it. I am happy to say that in my pilgrimage to Philadelphia I encountered scores of joyful people in whom I could easily tell their faith is strong because I could see Christ working in and through them. We encounter the living Christ in other people, which helps us in our journey of faith, but when we receive from the Lord the grace and gift of a strong faith we express our faith in a loving and joyful manner. We can never be silent again.
(Carrie Delcourt is a member of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport.)