Faith Comes Down to This

cloisterLiving the Christian faith comes down to these three ways of life: prayer, humility, and obedience.  No matter who you are or where you come from, if you truly want to be a committed and faithful Christian: (1) you must spend some serious time engaged in vocal prayer (both privately and with the community in divine liturgy), meditative prayer, and contemplative prayer; (2) you must become deeply humble, which means setting  aside your gargantuan ego and worldly ambitions to listen to God; and (3) you must be obedient to God first and always, which means you must develop the courage to follow where He leads you.

To accomplish any of these things, however, you must learn to be silent.  As Pope Benedict XVI explained during his March 7, 2012 general audience: “To hear God’s word requires the cultivation of outward and inward silence, so that his voice can resound within our hearts and shape our lives.”

While entering into silence is a difficult practice for many believers, there are myriad opportunities to find it if we truly seek it.  For example, as part of the close of the Year of Faith, the Vatican has set aside a time to pray with monks and nuns who have chosen to live the contemplative life.  Here’s the announcement from the Vatican’s Year of Faith website.

The Day for the Contemplative Life (“pro orantibus”) is celebrated each year on November 21st on the occasion of the Feast of the Presentation of Mary.

This Day is an invitation to the entire Church to recall how the contemplative life, lived out in silence and away from the hustle and bustle of today’s world, provides the fundamental sustenance to the lives of all of the faithful, the missionaries and all of society. Thus, in a special way on this Day, the entire Church is called to join in prayer for these monasteries and their particular needs.

On the occasion of this Day held during the Year of Faith, Pope Francis will visit the Monastery of Camaldolese Nuns of Sant’Antonio Abate in Rome.

Let us spiritually unite ourselves for this time of prayer on Thursday November 21st, beginning at 4:45 in Rome (10:45 a.m. eastern time US), with Pope Francis and all of the communities of contemplative life from around the world!

Take special note that this day of prayer is “an invitation to the entire Church” — not just those in monastic profession — to recall how the contemplative life “provides the fundamental sustenance to the lives of all of the faithful.”  In other words, all of us have a specific occasion — that takes place in exactly one week — not only to pray for and with monks and nuns, but also to learn more about what it means to seek silence, to deepen our prayer life, to open our hearts to humility, and to strive to be more obedient.

While this single event won’t automatically make you comfortable with silence and make you an expert in prayer, as this Year of Faith comes to a close it will give you an opportunity to begin to purposefully seek the silence that can lead you into deeper union with our God.

Hopefully, too, it will make you want to provide financial assistance to monasteries!

Let us pray for one another that we live in the light of this kind of faith.

Thomas Colyandro is a professor for Catholic Distance University and the author of two books, including: The Judas Syndrome: Seven Ancient Heresies Return to Betray Christ Anew. He is completing a certificate from the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge University, and already holds masters’ degrees in divinity and theology from the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas, a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a certificate from the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program.