Sunday, June 7, 2009
“You must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
From the earliest age, Catholic parents teach their children to reverently make the sign of the cross as a physical prayer of faith in the Holy Trinity. The cross that we trace over our bodies seals us with the Trinity so that the Lord our God is indeed fixed in our hearts, forever. Crossing ourselves can become such a habit, that we can forget what we are doing, and mindlessly cross ourselves when passing a church, a cemetery or talking with others about some way in which God has saved us from tragedy in our lives.
I have a new co-worker who is atheist. From her first day on the job, she told me loudly and clearly that she does not believe in anything or anyone, and does not appreciate being preached at. I try to be sensitive to her wishes, and keep my faith to myself. It’s pretty hard, because I do have holy cards posted on my bulletin board in my office and a few other religious pictures on my office shelf. But, when co-workers engage in general conversation, I do try to keep my faith to myself and only talk about it with those whom I know don’t mind. Instead, I try to follow the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi in his advice to “preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words”. I feel that I can be more effective at sharing my faith by living my life well, with kindness and respect for others rather than ‘pushing’ my faith at them.
But, it’s a lot harder to keep my faith to myself than you would think. One way it seems to show through is in the Sign of the Cross. Last winter, I was sharing a scary story about my experience of a near-accident on an icy road. I found that I was automatically crossing myself as I expressed my gratitude to have come out of that experience unscathed. I looked up and noticed my atheist co-worker scowling at me. I admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable about not honoring her non-beliefs. But after some thought, I realized that respect is a two-way street and that she too, should be honoring my beliefs. It is impossible for me to keep my faith to myself, because it is fixed in my heart. The fact that I automatically made the Sign of the Cross in gratitude for my good fortune is an obvious sign to me that my faith must be shared, in words or actions. It is going to spill forth from my heart for the world to see, no matter how conscious I am of trying to hold it inside.
So, I live my faith as best I can. I praise God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit with the Sign of the Cross, the sign of my faith, and the sign of my life. I will gladly endure scowls and criticism in my open witness because my Lord and Savior endured so much more for me.
Happy Feast of the Trinity!