The nature of faith

Marianna Bartholomew

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Rebellion can either serve or defeat, as can acquiescence. To rebel against status quo in seeking excellence or truth is a great thing. If society tells us to "fit in," but also to set aside all that is moral or good, than obviously, we need to rebel against that pressure.

Rebellion that sends us into the "netherworld"  is misdirected, often born of pride. To rebel, but then avoid a sincere search for truth, leads us to that existence "where questions stand thick and solid as skyscrapers."

Fine. We are all inclined to rebel now and then, an instinct born of human nature. But do we use this instinct as a catalyst, taking time to really dig for reasonable answers? So often, people fling about in an orgy of experience and disbelief, seeking what "feels right," instead of filling in the gaps with some real answers born of research and reflection.

Regarding tough questions about my faith, I've learned to launch an investigation, just as I would for any story I write. I explore early Church writers, Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, encyclicals. This kind of rigor is so satisfying when it comes to thinking and praying about life's great mysteries. In the end, I've discovered the beauty of informed acquiescence.

Rebellion has another facet. Do we rebel against life circumstances? Sometimes, that type of rebellion can be productive, helping us transform a harmful home, school, work or even civic environment -- if we initiate change with a healthy respect and consideration of others. But if we are presented a tough circumstance, like a child with a terminal illness or a catastrophic accident, do we rail against that event, or accept and move on in faith?

Rebellion and acquiescence. How do I choose one over the other? God knows, my natural instincts lead me to push back fiercely at times, averse to pain or difficulty. But learning to thrive within certain limitations, builds rich character. To respect ourselves, we must put up a fight -- for the good -- learning to work optimistically and at peak level within restrictions.

Who is God calling me to be? Moving blindly through an unexamined life is dissatisfying. Thank God for the light He gives, that turns rebellion into inspired acts, as the soul hungers to accept God's Will.

As for that "same worn plot," those old, ingrained sins get tedious after a while! Thank God for the Actual Grace of His sacraments, that frees us and strews flowers along the path. I am no Mother Teresa, who strived through decades of dryness. I've experienced time and again how God gifts the weak with consolations, like Padre Pio once fed chocolates to new converts.

May our Holy Week be blessed!

The Nature of Faith

We shape our lives
by rebellion or acquiescence.

To rebel
is to slingshot our identity
into the netherworld
where questions stand
thick and solid as skyscrapers.

To accept
is to ascend the tallest bell tower
with an overview of the city.

Most of us transcend
then fall
then fall again
trodding the same worn plot
like a sentry guarding city gates.

Determined to defend
what seems unattainable
we guard we know not what

until, with faith,
we gain eternal entry.

Topics: Faith , Lent & Easter , Liturgical Year , Personal Growth , Prayer

Marianna Bartholomew is winner of six national Catholic Press Association Journalism Awards and Chicago’s 1993 Cardinal’s Communications Award for Professional Excellence. Her articles have appeared in EXTENSION Magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic Digest and in Chicago’s Catholic New World and other diocesan newspapers across the nation. Former Managing Editor of Catholic home mission EXTENSION Magazine, Bartholomew has traveled to and reported on conditions in the poorest, most isolated pockets of our nation, from Louisiana’s Cajun communities and Appalachia’s hollows to Montana’s remote Indian missions. Blessed to be a wife and homeschooling mother of three, she now teaches in a homeschool cooperative, freelance writes from her Chicago area home, and is completing her first novel for young adults. She blogs at finerfields.blogspot.com.

View all articles by Marianna Bartholomew

Ads by Google
(What's this?)


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google



Abortion (51)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (3)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (18)  Church teaching (35)  Contraception (28)  Culture (124)  Current Events (102)  Dating (15)  Death (7)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (14)  Eucharist (4)  Exercise (3)  Faith (231)  Family (95)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (14)  Fertility (4)  Fitness (1)  Food (3)  Forgiveness (19)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (3)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (15)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (13)  Liturgical Year (11)  Marian devotion (9)  Marriage (38)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (3)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (6)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (61)  Movies (2)  Music (5)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (46)  Personal Growth (107)  Politics (5)  Pope Francis (6)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (35)  Pro-Life (29)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (10)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (11)  Religious Vocation (1)  Saints (17)  Scripture (7)  Service (8)  Sexuality (20)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (3)  Suffering (15)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  United Nations (1)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (7)  Women's Health (21)  Workplace (13)  Writings of the Saints (12)  Young Women (41) 


Liturgical Calendar

January 25, 2015

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 1:14-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 1:14-20

Text only

Follow us: