The Gift of Faith~Br Milan Komadina

The Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

Our faith is a gift. The older I grow the more sure I become about the fact that our own faith is a gift. And that we do not believe just like that. Or traditionally, if our parents were Christians and we were taught about Christianity as kids and later we decided to become more devoted to our faith when we already have the roots in our family education. There are many people that were born in Christian families and they declare themselves Christians but they never go to church. They never pray to God and they never read Bible. Could we truly tell that a person is a Christian who is only baptized and raised in Christian environment? Being Christian means of course being baptized and have the certificate that we belong to certain denomination but it is not enough. A Christian could someone become even without being baptized because a Christian we should become by our faith. And a baptism should come after as a visible result of what had previously happened. When we first met Jesus in our hearts, declared Him as our savior, accept his sacrifice, repent and get the free grace and salvation and then we become true Christians. What I would like to emphasize, as I consider that very important is that being Christian includes to believe in Christ and being aware of the mercy which is gifted through faith. The salvation is through faith. Baptism we could arrange at the local church and easily we could become baptized members of one church. But faith – we cannot arrange. We cannot as nonbelievers order in the local church and buy our faith for the rest of our lives or for the certain period of time. Because faith is a gift and cannot be scheduled, arranged or booked as a slot for baptism. Here we come to one sentence that has stolen my attention in today’s reading. John 6:60-69

”On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Versus number 65 says that NO ONE can come to Jesus unless the Father has enabled them. In everyday Christian life we can experience really special moments. Sometimes we wake up in the morning happy and grateful to be alive, then we do our cross and start singing psalms or Christians songs, or we pray and worship, sometimes we read the Bible feeling every single word of the text and being touched we cry while reading God’s Word. Sometimes we feel holy and away from human lusty desires and we feel like our mind is really pure. Other days we have a big desire to study Bible, read about Jesus or preach the Gospel. But do we sometimes question why we are doing all these? Why we have the desire not to sin? Why we have the gift of tears while reading Gospel and why we feel empathy when we see other people suffer? Why we have inner engine to move us stand for the prayer in the morning? This is the seal of Holy Spirit working in us. This is the gift and this is free gift. As we are saved by grace through our faith now we bring fruits of this faith. But all those fruits are grown in the Holy Spirit.

In Psalm 51:15, king David prays: “O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” When I was Orthodox Christian I learnt that in case when we cannot pray (due to lack of motivation) we should read this psalm and it helps. Or at least to repeat several times this sentence. So that the Lord may open our mouth and let us pray. All good things that we are doing we are doing them with God’s help because everything good comes from God. Our faith is a gift, our salvation is a gift, and our presence in the Unified Old Catholic Church is a gift. And it is very important not to be proud because everything that we have is a gift from God. I invite you all to live by faith and to believe in this mercy and to remember that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father has enabled him.

And since today we commemorate St. Catherine of Siena I would like to share a couple of sentences about her life. St. Catherine of Siena, TOSD (Italian: Caterina da Siena; 25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380) was an Italian member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic in the Roman Catholic Church. She was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and on the Catholic Church. Canonized in 1461, she is also a Doctor of the Church. Born and raised in Siena, she wanted from an early age to devote herself to God, against the will of her parents. She joined the “mantellates”, a group of pious women, primarily widows, informally devoted to Dominican spirituality. She died on 29 April 1380, exhausted by her rigorous fasting. Urban VI celebrated her funeral and burial in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Devotion around Catherine of Siena developed rapidly after her death. Pope Pius II canonized her in 1461; she was declared a patron saint of Rome in 1866 by Pope Pius IX, and of Italy (together with Francis of Assisi) in 1939 by Pope Pius XII. She was the second woman to be declared a “Doctor of the Church,” on 4 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI – only days after Teresa of Ávila. In 1999 Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a (co-)patron saint of Europe.

                                       St. Catherine of Siena pray for us!