Faith development is about developing an approach to life — a lifestyle dominated by values and concerns that resemble God’s values and concerns. This isn’t something we just “learn”. It isn’t primarily intellectual, and it doesn’t stop when we are confirmed or finish school. It requires time, effort, ongoing study and prayer. It includes emotional, social and practical components, and must be exercised until our faith is internalized and sets the tone for everything we dream or do. At that point our faith starts to “exercise” us; Faith governs our lives.
Faith development is a life-long pursuit. It challenges the values the world promotes so brazenly and so successfully that we don’t even notice how much these “worldly” values shape our desires and behavior: values like our need for entertainment, “success”, getting a deal, competition, being “right”, demanding our rights, and purchasing isolation from disquieting problems. Faith development reorients us toward others, valuing compassion over power, generosity over acquisition, affirmation over criticism. It suggests that we find an alternative to the fast lane of life and use our energy to do what we are created to do: to love life, to thank God for the opportunity, and to share our love with others. The Faith In Action section extends this discussion.
Just as pursuing a better look and perfect health requires effort, faith development involves spending some time, motivating ourselves, acquiring the “how-to” knowledge, and working out (“practicing” our faith) — possibly with the help of a personal trainer (a spiritual director). Spiritual development and Education are foundational. There are many resources in the areas of prayer and learning about our faith. Several books are available for borrowing at the back of the Church, and much seasoned guidance is available from the priests, parish staff, retreat centers, and other professionals. Check the parish programs designed for either children and youth or for adult formation.
Since the stress of modern life drains us of so much hope and energy, our call to faith demands that we find a less frantic, more connected way to live. Faith cannot flourish unless we have some time and quiet. Simple Living provides an atmosphere and disposition where faith can take root. The Simple Living page continues this theme and contains some practical suggestions. An important aspect of better living involves dealing with environmental issues.
The sacraments provide us especially rich points of contact with the life of God. The sacraments are ways to nurture our faith life (especially Eucharist), to restore it after periods of neglect (Penance), and to mark major signposts along our journey toward God (baptism, confirmation, marriage or ordination, and anointing). Sacramental Preparation refers to how to prepare yourself or your children for celebrating a sacrament.