Just before Sunday slips away, I realise that I can’t let it go without marking it here. Today has been a special Sunday for me. It is a first anniversary: a year ago today, I was Confirmed into the Catholic faith.
I hesitate always to mention matters of faith in public. I read the papers like anyone else, but I am no politician and am not here either to criticise or to defend the government of the Church. For me, faith is intensely personal. It is also instinctive, which makes it hard to articulate (and thus pretty baffling for anyone without it). All I can say is that, after many years of searching for faith, arguing over religion and running from the hounds of heaven, I finally stood still and listened long enough to hear the answer which had been waiting all along. Faith is a gift, not an intellectual decision or a personal attainment. The only way I can describe it is that it came as an outpouring of grace. It felt like falling in love: on my confirmation day I felt rather as I did on my wedding day.
Now that the honeymoon period is over, I am beginning to learn how to live in my new relationship. It’s the same old me with all my faults. And yet the same old me has somehow been made new. As I read and reflect and try to live out my (still new and rather fragile) faith, I am beginning to realise that the difference – as in a a marriage, to continue the analogy – comes down to love: love both given and received, absorbed and radiated. Just like Jesus said, in fact.
To explore that central idea further I would refer you to far more lucid and knowledgeable writers than myself: especially Robert Barron, whose writings on faith are scholarly, accessible and so inspiring that I want everyone to read them! On the other hand, sometimes it takes a child to perceive the heart of the matter. Unprompted, my younger son sat down this afternoon and made me a card. His spelling is a joy – but really his drawing says it all. This is what today’s anniversary, and every day, is all about.