Faith Sharing

Toruń, church of St. James, Descent of the Hol...

There is much talk these days about ‘faith sharing’ (this is especially true in catechetical circles) and far too little thought regarding the meaning of these words. Admittedly, most of us think that we understand this phrase to mean that we are to share stories about our faith with others, though some might come to think that this ‘faith sharing’ somehow creates faith in others or perhaps increases their faith. There are a number of things that are fundamentally wrong with such notions.

First, paragraph 153 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following:

Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”

To reiterate, faith is a gift from God – we do not give someone else what faith we might possess. Likewise, it is faith that makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth. Faith “is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed.” (CCC 150)  Since Christ has said that He is Truth (Jn.14:6), it follows that the truths of the faith need be presented to all who are interested in the Catholic Faith in order that they have the opportunity to make this necessary but free assent. Should one come to believe and hold to all of these truths you can bet that he or she has received this gift of Faith by the working of the Holy Spirit, a sharing in Christ’s Spirit, and wholly by the grace of God. (see CCC 152)  The Church, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth,” faithfully guards “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (CCC 172)  It therefore becomes imperative for those who wish to “share their faith” with others, to teach only that which is in full-agreement with this pillar and bulwark of the truth – the Church.

Secondly, the Catechism makes clear that the transmission of “faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him.” (CCC 425). Christ is the center of all catechesis which “is taught – everything else is taught with reference to him – and it is Christ alone who teaches – anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips. . . .” (see CCC 426 and 427)  It seems that the Church advises us to teach or, if we must use the vernacular of today, share the teachings with others – not the faith for that is impossible for man.

There is always a danger, when relating our personal and subjective spiritual matters to one another, that we might veer into a forum of “faith sharing” inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Faith.   It is vitally important that in our individual spiritual reflections we submit our spirituality to all of the Truth as taught by the Church. It should be scrutinized under the magnifying lens of Sacred Theology and made to conform to God’s Revelation of Himself through His Catholic and Apostolic Church. If our reflections and spirituality are found faulty, we must amend our views (no matter how wonderful our musings might make us feel) and trade them in for inclinations and reflections that are totally and 100% in conformity with the Church; for if we are not sharing the teachings of the Catholic Faith faithfully, we are only presenting a counterfeit faith of our own making.