Recently on CBS news there was a news item that Christian men and women were losing their faith in religious institutions. A number of them were not attending church because they believe that that they were hypocritical Christians. Rather, they believe in God in their own way.
I question their validity because a church is not a building but a group of Christian meeting together to pray or worship. They offer fellowship, and a solidarity in our spiritual journey, a substance that is needed within our believing community.
In my opinion there is a distinct difference in beliefs and faith. This is a difficult subject to address because faith is somewhat misconstrued. You might have faith in someone or you are a faithful person.
How do you get faith? Is it built into you? Is it an inspired idea? Is it a gift from God? People say that in order to pray for someone, you must have faith. That faith makes you believe that your prayers will be answered and if it’s not answered, your faith believes that it’s not to be for reason of God’s will.
Let’s go with character. Some people say that your character is what you do when you’re alone. In order to find out your character is to rely on your principles. Principles are what your parents teach you right from wrong. In order to know what’s right you must have a belief system and in order to acquire that belief, you must have faith.
A person is born with the ability to learn and survive. By the age of seven they have reason to articulate their needs and wants. Both public schools and religious institutions try and teach their doctrine of faith and educational necessities. This is the foundation that is cemented in young people. Around age 13 or 14, a person is introduced to the church of his denomination by being confirmed in their faith. That foundation is like a tree being planted in the ground and allowed to grow. If it grows sideways, it is tied to a string to make it straight.
In the Catholic tradition when a person is confirmed they receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and in such a way that it represents gifts of wisdom, judgement, courage, knowledge and reverence. More so, it renders our bond with the church more perfect and unites more firmly to Christ.