Handing On The Faith
When Our Lord told His Apostles "Go teach all nations" it must have seemed a formidable assignment. "What can we twelve do?" could well have been their reaction. There they were, surrounded by paganism, centered in the powerful Roman empire, and themselves belonging to a people who had largely rejected Christ and even brought about his crucifixion. Such a death added as well the stigma of a condemned criminal to their leader.
Humanly speaking, it was not only a formidable but an impossible assignment. Only the grace of God could make it possible, and only the grace of God could give the apostles the necessary strength and courage, and make their efforts fruitful. The result as that they did preach the Gospel at the cost of great suffering and adversity, knowing that their efforts were to be the instrument God would use for the conversion of others.
What they did we, as members of the same Church to which the Apostles belonged, can also do---according to our state in life, our sphere of influence, our capabilities. Those words of Christ "Go teach all nations" were addressed to us. Because of the Sacrament of Confirmation our souls are stamped with the character of a witness to Jesus Christ. What Pentecost was to the Apostles, Confirmation is to the individual Catholic. In ordinary life, a child's main work is to grow and learn, for it is the adult who is expected to hold responsibility, earn money to keep a family, take over the care of the home. Confirmation is the Sacrament of maturity in the supernatural life of grace, that life which was begun at Baptism is strengthened and complemented at Confirmation. At Confirmation we become adult Christians and as such we are, or should be, witnesses for Christ to others. In short, Confirmation stamps us as apostles. It gives us the grace to be apostolic. That means that in God's plan every confirmed Catholic is supposed to be doing something about spreading the True Faith.
Pray to Help a Non-Catholic
Say a daily prayer for the Conversion of a non-Catholic friend. Faith is a gift from God. No one can earn or merit this gift of faith, as St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, 2,8: "Yes, it was grace that saved you, with faith for its instrument; it did not come from yourselves, it was God's gift, not from any action of yours, or there would be room for pride." Our Lord also expressed the same thought when He said: "Nobody can come to me without being attracted to the Father Who sent me." (John 6, 44.)
Any ordinary man is capable of learning the fundamental truths of religion. of knowing that God exists and that He has given a revelation to man. But in order to perceive the vital force and the sheer reality of the truths God has revealed, in order to believe in them in such a way that they have a profound influence on one's life, a special help from God is required. Hence the necessity of prayer for the gift of faith. Prayer is not just the nice thing to do" or "the nice sounding bit of advice to give". Prayer is absolutely essential. Any priest who has had experience of convert work will tell you just how true it is. Often he has come across people who have no objection to Catholic teachings after they have been explained to them. But in their own words they "just can't bring themselves to believe it".
Cardinal Newman sums it up as follows: "Faith is not a mere conviction in reason; it is a firm assent, it is clear certainty, greater than any other certainty; and this is wrought in the mind by the grace of God. and by it alone. Here is the difference between other exercises of reason and arguments for the truth of religion. It requires no act of faith to assent to the truth that two and two make four; we cannot help assenting to it, and hence there is no merit in assenting to it. But there is merit in believing that the Church is from God; for, though there are abundant reasons to prove it to us, yet we can, without any absurdity, quarrel with the conclusion; we may complain that it is not clearer, we may suspend our assent, we may doubt about it, if we will; and grace alone can turn a bad will into a good one". (Discourses to Mixed congregations, on Faith and Doubt, No. 11.) We should pray daily for the gift of faith for others.
Prayer for the Conversion of my Parish.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love for men, grant that by my prayers, words and example, I may help to bring all men to know, love and serve Thee.
In Thy love and mercy bestow the priceless gift of Faith on all those of my Parish who still remain outside the One True Church.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, teach me to be an apostle of Thy Son.
Source: Father T. White