Faith in action amplifies Faith Development by pursuing the practical aspects of developing a lifestyle dominated by values and concerns that resemble God’s values and concerns. It isn’t just about morality and observing the commandments; these are only the starting point. To focus on our minimum obligations is to minimize our commitment to Christ, to limit ourselves to “avoiding sin”, to miss the joy that accompanies a life of unselfish love. We are called to internalize the law, to do good, to pursue the ideals embodied in the beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-16). to become, like Christ, a light for the world.
We must practice service and generosity until a loving orientation toward others becomes instinctive and habitual. Of course, everyone faces different challenges with different capabilities. Some of us will feature hospitality, others generosity, compassion toward the troubled, unselfish leadership, advocacy for good causes, adding peace or beauty to the world, role modeling for our children, etc. But however we play out our particular lives, we must all overcome our compulsions and hang-ups and work toward responding to the needs of others as if they were our own needs. This level of Faith requires life-long tuning.
A life of service to others is not confined to Church-oriented activities. It is enacted in our family, our employment, our friendships, the way we spend our time, money and other resources, the way we shop, vote, and make all our decisions. It requires developing priorities that differ from those of modern consumer society. It requires doing things that take some effort and sacrifice — or not doing some things that are trendy. It may require knowing economic, social, or ecological realities that cry out for remedial action. Whatever approach suits your personality and life situation, living as a Christian implies a life of service. And that involves practical everyday action. The focus areas suggest some ways to begin.
Four Focus Areas
1. There are many moral and justice issues in society that need Christian insight and often urgent action. More issues keep appearing in the press. A few are highlighted here. This list is far from complete, and is meant only to get us thinking about what problems may need our committed attention. An important aspect of responsible Christian living involves dealing with environmental issues. Check out Moral Aspects of the Environment Problem for a series of articles on how developing good environmental habits relates to personal morality, the struggle between grace and sin, and building the Kingdom of God. 2. The needs of others are served by several programs and organizations in the parish and the community. The list presented here is, again, only a beginning. Special attention is drawn to Out of the Cold, an inter-denominational program for street people in which St. Louis Parish participates. Working within an existing structure is an excellent way to learn the ropes and feel the support of others on a mission. 3. The parish itself needs personal commitment for its many roles and services to others.Check the parish organizations to see if any match with your qualifications and interest. 4. Monetary assistance to the parish, to charitable organizations, to advocacy, and to other appropriate organizations is an important aspect of supporting their various missions.