Saturday, October 15, 2011

Follow the Faith

October 15, 2011

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us, as it is written, I have made you father of many nations. Romans 4:13, 16-17a

"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say." Luke 12:10-12


Let nothing disturb thee,

Let nothing affright thee;

All passeth away:

God only shall stay.

Patience wins all:

Who hath God, needeth nothing;

For God is his All.

-- St. Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God


Today we remember St. Teresa of Avila, mystic and doctor of the Church. Among her seminal writings is the book, The Interior Castle. The readings reflect upon faith -- something that she lived daily in her life as she reformed the Carmelite Order. Although considered a mystic and a leading founder of Christian meditation, St. Teresa was also a do-er.

Today's readings help us to focus on the importance of faith in Jesus but also in how that faith plays out in our daily lives. In Paul's letter to the Romans, he praises righteousness that comes from faith but that alone is not enough. We need to follow the faith in our piety, study and action.

Just as St. Teresa gave outward expression of this faith as a reformer of the laxity she observed in the Carmelite order, we, too, must study her life and the lives of other witnesses to see how they balanced the interior and the exterior -- the Mary and the Martha. In The Interior Castle, she notes, "True perfection consists in the love of God and our neighbor, and the better we keep both these commandments, the more perfect we shall be." Although she experienced ecstasy and union with God in her prayer, she did not stop there but used that as fuel in her study (writings on prayer and other topics) and actions as well.


The economy and reform has been on my mind a lot this week. An interesting e-mail crossed my screen this week about the Occupy Wall Street protests (and similar movements in other cities. Whether you agree or disagree with these protestors or the Tea Party or any other movement, what is beginning is a new conversation about the direction of our country and our economy. This takes place in a week when Congress and the President agreed to some overwhelming new trade agreements with South Korea and other nations. And also, a soft spoken Irish priest named Fr. Seamus Finn spoke at our parish about economic activity.

If you could not attend, check out his perspective at this link.

We may all be asked to be reformers in the model of St. Teresa. However, our reform does not have to be as far reaching. Check out some of the links he provides on Catholic principles to guide you investing and savings. How can you reform your retirement savings?

I have been too content and complacent plowing my savings into low-cost index funds. However, how much economic activity have I been passively supporting that violates Catholic Social Teaching. Now is the time to call my advisor and adjust my savings to support responsible companies that do not build nuclear weapons, support repressive governments like that in Burma, move profits off shore, destroy jobs for my neighbors and more. Not only do we need to maximize the return on our investments, we must also maximize the good that our funds might do and eliminate supporting business practices that violate our Catholic ideals. On the site above, you can also find some documents to guide you in this reform of your place in the economy.

No matter what your political and economic views, it is time to speak up and change the direction of our lives in a micro sense and our nation in a macro sense. Write Congress and tell them enough is enough. Send a letter to your local paper explaining your ideas for a moral economy. And most importantly, pray for God’s will to be done.