“The way we develop trust is first of all coming to recognize that God really does have our best interest at heart – he truly is the God of love,” the head Denver's archdiocese told CNA after his keynote address March 1 at the local Living the Catholic Faith Conference.
Archbishop Aquila's talk, “Standing Firm in Faith,” highlighted the importance of relationship with both Christ and the Church.
The archbishop began his remarks to the hundreds of conference attendees by touching on the “aggressively secular world” faced by Christians today.
“From all corners, the dignity of the human person is under attack, God is being removed from everything, the Church is being marginalized, morality is being compromised or said to be non-existent, and believers are being ridiculed for their beliefs,” he said.
The archbishop reflected that without truth or God, democracy becomes a “social tyranny.” He added that “in a democracy devoid of virtue, devoid of God, rooted in relativism, justice cannot flourish.”
“Our founding fathers assured us that without religious practice, our democracy would become a place for the powerful to exercise their will over the weak.”
The secular world challenges Christians to a type of witness, of martyrdom, of living our faith in the public square. 'Troublesome times are here and may only grow,” he said.
“Being faithfully Catholic men and women, mothers and fathers, business owners, and Americans will be a challenge. If we want to be ready to stand firm in faith, we need to be disciples of Jesus Christ.”
To be Christian disciples, he said first the nature of faith must be considered. He called faith a decision to trust in God. This act of trust is reasonable, he said, because God has revealed himself to us in scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ.
“Only the divine person of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, makes the proposal of faith reasonable...the only way for us to have a living, vibrant, witnessing faith is to pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
He said the need for the ministers of the Church to be themselves trustworthy: “Many people say today that to trust in the Church is harder than it once was. The scandals of the past ten years have made the Church seem less reliable and made faith more difficult. If this is true, we need to acknowledge it, and we need to ensure that the ministers of the Gospel are people of true integrity.”
In his comments to CNA/EWTN News, he reflected that “too often we...have listened more to the ways of the world than to the voice of Christ.”
This is particularly important regarding how Christ can heal us and restore order to us, he said, “the way we can, in our relationship with him, truly experience his healing love for us.”
During his keynote address, the archbishop's second point was that to be a person of faith, one must be in relationship not only with Christ, but also with his Church.
“If we want to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, we will pursue an intimate relationship with the Church.”
To think of the Church “as an institution,” he said, to to “miss the point.” Rather, the Church is the living body of Christ her head.
Archbishop Aquila said, “If our expectations, experience, or commitment to the Church is less than our commitment to Jesus Christ, we cannot know Christ. We know him in the context of the Church.”
Practical measures Archbishop Aquila suggested to help people come to know Christ and to live their faith in the Church included first of all entering into personal relationship with each person of the Blessed Trinity. He suggested that everyone strive to spend an hour a week in Eucharistic adoration: “it does lead us into a deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ, who makes himself present for us,” he said.
“They know you better than you know yourself, and they desire only the good, the true and the beautiful for you. They desire for you to be happy. You must cooperate with this love by receptive and docile to it.”
He went on to suggest prayerful reading of scripture, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and participating in the sacraments, especially Sunday Mass and Confession.
“We must give witness to our faith in the public square and propose our faith to others,” he said.
“Every Catholic is called to evangelize others by their lives, in what they say and do. No Catholic is exempt from going out and proclaiming and inviting others to come to know Jesus Christ.”
The failure to live the faith in the public square is, he said, the biggest failure of Catholics in the past 50 years.
Here and now, Archbishop Aquila said, we are called to “propose to the world the truth of Jesus, and that “the call of the new evangelization is to transform the world through our love.”
“Let us stand firm in faith by standing firm, together, in love giving witness to the world in all we say and do,” he concluded.
Trust in God is the key foundation of faith which allows one to develop an intimate and personal relationship with the Father, according to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.
Archbishop Aquila, Faith