Pastors Corner

Practical Faith

July 23, 2023

Nothing is more practical than finding God,

than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,

what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide:

– what will get you out of bed in the morning,

– what you do with your evenings,

– how you spend your weekends,

– what you read,

– whom you know,

– what breaks your heart,

– and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Often attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from 1965-83, the above quote is one of my favorite prayers to pray. In fact, I have been returning time and again to this prayer since before I entered seminary fourteen years ago.

We don’t often think of ideas such as faith and love in terms of practicality, but do we make this subtraction to our own detriment? This prayer has been of enormous practical advantage to me, helping me through some difficult decisions and dark days. The prayer speaks of the ultimate practicality of love and faith, and we may be in a place to listen. When we think about clinical depression, the practicality of faith and love is more apparent. This isn’t to say that those who suffer from depression are not faithful or loving. Still, there is often a disconnect between the desire for love and faith and living out that desire. Depression has a way of seizing the individual in a morass of indecisiveness. This seeming inability to muster the will to make a choice, any choice for anything, let alone the highest values of love and faith. Love and faith are vulnerable-making realities that are not just intellectual or theoretical. Love and faith are practical in that what we fear is the reality we must lean into to escape that morass. It is no wonder that in a society with incredible rates of anxiety, depression, and despair, we would also encounter difficulty with faith and with love. 

This prayer, in its own way, is a practical guide to faith and love. It challenges us to intentionally make the more minor decisions regarding what we read and watch, who we talk to, and what we talk about. These small decisions can greatly assist one in making a more significant decision on what it is that we genuinely love and have faith in. Saint Paul reverences this relationship of making daily choices and the effect that these decisions have on our goal: 

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.  – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – 

What choices will you make this week? Where do those choices lead? When we recognize that the little choices throughout our days reflect in a surprisingly profound way upon the realities that we love and place our faith in. Do we put our faith in Christ Jesus? Do we love what He loves and do what He does? These are not just hypothetical questions; they reveal the truth on which we build our lives and the goal for which we live. Choice wisely, live courageously! 

Together, We Follow After HIM!  

Fr. Adam