Community News

Faith Matters

Picture of Carolyn Young
Faith Matters
by Carolyn Young - Thursday, 16 July 2020, 8:37 AM

In Religion and Society Units 3 / 4, we are studying how beliefs are expressed and how aspects of religious traditions engender and nurture meaning for believers as they continue on their search for meaning. It is topical at the moment, given that so many of our traditional ways of expressing belief are not available to us in the ways that they have been in the past. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a mass prior to the lockdown being reintroduced; in some ways it was a surreal experience. I looked around the cathedral and noted the symbols and artifacts that we are talking about in class, I identified the texts we were using and the sacred stories we were hearing as `aspects’ intended to engender and nurture meaning – and I thought about the ways that we humans have come up with to bring meaning to our lives. Being able to actively participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist was such a treat after not being able to have done so for so long – but now that I can’t do that again I find myself reflecting on how I will continue to nurture my faith and find meaning this time around.

I have participated in masses broadcast online; the spiritual communion with God that can provoke is one new way that I have tried to nourish my faith. Some people believe in mass online, some people don’t, but, for me, an opportunity to find some peace and remember the hope that our God offers us can only be a good thing! Did I feel strange the first time I tried it? Absolutely! I was surprised, though, by how powerful an experience it was. The daily prayers that we share at Marcellin during the Pastoral sessions have also provided me with some space to pause and reflect. Reading stories at the end of the day of the kindness that people are sharing with one another provides me with hope and a sense of gratitude for the goodness that can be overshadowed in our consciousness by the daily numbers, the anxieties and the fear presented to us. More than reading at the end of the day though, I’m finding it helpful to acknowledge particular actions throughout the course of a day; when I see people living what we, as a Catholic and Marist community, believe about love, service, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice in their care for others. I’m finding that the gratitude that we feel when we recognise the kindness and generosity of others can provide us with hope daily – and that gratitude and hope are a daily spiritual nourishment. 

As we all know, changing times call for changing ways. The photo accompanying this article is of a Church and its community one Christmas – Christmas mass was, of course, celebrated in the traditional and beautiful Church. Our faith was also expressed by the movement of the pews and the Church being transformed into a massive food hall that welcomed and fed not only the regular parishioners but also – most significantly – the poor of the surrounding areas. I love this example of finding new ways to enliven our Church and live our faith. In our current context, I hope we can all find our own ways of creating hope for each other and ensuring that we are conscious of sharing in God’s love each day.