FAITH FORMATION

Opening Prayer: God of Abraham, God of St Paul, and God St. Thomas, your call impels us to leave our familiar lands, concerns, ideologies and friends. Yes, your word rouses our obedience. By your grace we risk our lives for your promise. As you confirm us in faith again and we cry aloud in recognition, “My Lord and My God”. May our trust be the foretaste of the life we shall have in you and may we already know the blessing of your love even today. We ask this….

A. FAITH
1. So, what is the definition of faith? The dictionary definition of faith is, “the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.” For a Christian, this definition is not just words on a page it is a way of life. Faith is acceptance of what we cannot see but feel deep within our hearts. Faith is a belief that one-day we will stand before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our faith is not about learning a set of numbers (like how many commandments?), formulas, and prayers. It is a relationship with a person. 2. The Theological Virtue: For Christians, believing is not seeing. Our life is built on the knowledge that God came to earth, died on a cross, rose again on the third day, and then ascended back into heaven. Why do we believe, because the Bible tells us so. We were not there when Jesus was crucified, yet we believe. We were not there when Jesus rose again, yet we believe. 3. Proof: Too many people want physical proof. Even Thomas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, said he would not believe unless he saw Jesus. What was Jesus’ answer to him when he saw Jesus? “Because you have seen me you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). This is the theological virtue known as faith, believing what we did not see because we know it in our hearts to be true. 4. Secure Belief in God: As Christians, we are secure in the knowledge that there is a God and that He rewards those that diligently seek Him. Faith for a Christian is much more than just a belief; it is security. Christians are secure in the knowledge that when all things come to pass they will see their Savior Jesus Christ. Faith is a belief that what is said in the Bible is true based on the eyewitness accounts and the peace that comes when we turn our lives over to God. Faith is also the security of knowing that we are firmly in God’s hands and no matter what happens nothing will shake us from them. Faith is our secure belief in God and our secure belief of God and our secure belief that all things happen through God. 5. Trusting Acceptance of God’s Will: As Christians, we do not only have a secure belief in God, we also have an acceptance that what God tells us to do is for our
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benefit. A part of the definition of faith is accepting God’s will over our own will. This means that we understand that what God is asking us to do will always work out for the good of those who love and listen to Him. Jesus said to us to have faith like a little child. A child will accept what is asked of them and then go and do it. As Christians we do not question what God wants us to do. We just go ahead and do it because we have faith that what we are being asked to do will help further the Kingdom of God here on earth. 6. Faith Is A Verb: In a way, faith is a verb because it means we must act on what we believe. Faith, as we have seen, is the theological virtue of being secure in our belief that God is real and that His Son died on the cross for our sins. It is taking that in a trusting acceptance of what God wants us to do and then going out and doing what we are told. Some time ago someone likened faith to the wind: we cannot see the wind; we cannot hear the wind unless it blows against something, and we can only feel the wind when it touches our skin or rustles our hair. Faith is like that wind. We cannot see what we believe in, we cannot hear what we believe in unless we open our eyes to the truth, but we can sure feel that our faith is justified by the joy we feel in our hearts. Remember, in the end, we all put our faith in something, so let it be the truth. 7. Faith for Paul: Paul's tremendous emphasis on faith was not a theological position arrived at through some logical deduction; but from his personal experience. One who brutally persecuted the early Christians, one who was a diehard Pharisee could not have expected to become an apostle. "I was the least of..." No qualifications. Naturally he comes to the conclusion that it was not his merits, it was a free gift. Everything is grace. He does not nor James contradict each other, rather they complement. Let us not judge alone by what he said, but what he actually lived. He practised his faith. So, too Abraham. A scholastic: "I can't trust any one of you." He meant he was angry with them. 8. He compares Abraham as the premier man of faith: from that dying body, sterile and useless, no germ of life left to procreate, God will raise Isaac who becomes the sacrament, symbol of God's promise that you will be a father of ... And out of that ageing, decaying body, life and faith will be engendered in a simultaneous movement of grace and fulfilment of the promise. Then in Abraham and through Paul, we will all be tied through not genes, but by faith.

B. FAITH FORMATION
1.

Goals: We seek to form families, communities and parishes that are vitally alive in the faith. You as parents and future families would have to be persons of living faith to impart/witness to your children your faith. You and other communities will provide a parish climate and an array of activities and resources designed to help our laity more fully understand and live their faith. We seek to form laity who actively cultivate a lively baptismal and Eucharistic spirituality with a powerful sense of mission and apostolate. Nourished by word,
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sacrament, and community fellowship, they will witness and share the Gospel in their homes, neighborhoods, places of work, and centers of culture. 2. What is Faith formation? a) What is a Disciple? A disciple is a follower of Christ. It is more than simply knowing or doing. It is building a devoted and healthy relationship with our Lord and Savior. b) Then what is “Faith Formation?” Faith-formation is the life-long process of making ourselves and others into disciples. c) What do we work on in Faith Formation? Look at the diagram: We develop four areas of our lives: -wider knowledge, -discipleship habits, -maturity in our life and work -and healthy relationships with Christ and others. Faith formation is applicable to our entire lives. d) Formation of beliefs and Attitudes: i) Human Identity/Attitude Formation: Formation of our beliefs and attitudes takes place often by the twin mechanisms of i) projection and ii) introjection. The images and concepts projected by the family, society, Church are often assimilated (taken in) without sufficient reflection or interaction. So young people may imitate or reject something without fully understanding the beliefs – from the movies, peers, secular world. Parents and teachers have a duty to project right images, and explain and challenge other images they see. Faith formation must take place at home, school and church. ii) Goal of Education and Formation: Connecting reality (facts, truth, the way things are) to reason (what mind uses to logically identify reality). Once the connection is made, we live with honesty (is defined as consistent with reality) and act with integrity (defined as acting as consistent with reality of things and people) and live in justice (defined as acting in consistent with reality and acting in consistent with the laws) e) Process of Faith Formation: Faith formation goes through four stages: i) ii) iii) iv)
FWC-Faith Formation

Experienced Faith: from elders, parents, teachers, priests, etc Affiliative: peer group, for acceptance, cultural, social pressure or influence Searching/Questioning: movement from external to internal; many things don’t make sense; Reality and Reason struggle Owned
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Faith goes through a journey and we need people to accompany young people in this journey. Faith formation is like motivation. One needs passion; but terrorists and fundamentalists also have passion. Passion without direction can be destructive. Thirdly when obstacles and problems, when temptations and worldly teaching influence us, we easily give up. So, we need a third component called perseverance. f) Struggle of Faith Mary’s “how’s it possible?” and Thomas’ “Unless I see..” will often be ours too. That’s when accompaniment is important, counselling is important, support and prayer is important. Then we will know, “nothing is impossible”, “your cousin Elizabeth who was considered barren is now 6 months pregnant” and we too will say, “May it be done according to your will.”. And we toll shall sing the Magnificat with Mary and say, “My soul sings the Glory of God…” Concluding Prayer: I asked God to take away my bad habit. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up. I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No. His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations; It isn't granted, it is learned. I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you. I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares And brings you closer to me. I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own! , but I will prune you to make you fruitful. I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things. I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me. God said...Ahhhh, finally you know me and love me.
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This prayer….

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