A Million Reasons to Believe

One day last year I happened to be out for an afternoon stroll. Whenever I would pass by a Catholic Church, which in Manhattan is frequently, I would pop in to visit the Blessed Sacrament. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon so I continued on and before I knew it I was walking down 34th Street. It was early December and every light post on the block had a small red banner hanging from it that simply read, “Believe” with a few glimmering stars surrounding it.

I must have passed a couple dozen of those signs before I happened to be across from Macy’s department store. Hanging on the front of the building was again the word “Believe.” This time, though, in huge letters arranged in Christmas lights. Just above those lights in much smaller letters was the phrase “A million reasons to…”

As I stood across the street I watched the flocks of people pass by that store and its declaration, “A million reasons to Believe.” As I was standing there I couldn’t help but ponder – what do these people believe?

On October 11th our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, commenced what he has declared to be theYear of Faith. It will be a year dedicated to diving ever deeper into our faith, this “beauty ever ancient ever new,” as St. Augustine describes.

What do we as Catholics believe? As I was watching that throng of people pass by 34th Street or as I encounter many today there seems to be a restlessness stirring within. I can’t count the number of people I come across who share with me their desire for so much more in life than the humdrum “nine-to-five.”

I’m convinced that the Deposit of Faith – sacred scripture, sacred tradition, Church councils, teachings of the popes and saints, the Catechism – is the tool that will lead us to the fulfillment of our desires, which ultimately is God. The Catechism tells us, “the desire for God is written in the human heart, for man was created by God and for God who never ceases to draw us to himself. Only in God can we find the truth and happiness we constantly seek.” Our need for God dwells deep within. We’re simply made that way. Throughout history man has been on a search to fulfill that deep longing.

Our Holy Father desires that during this Year of Faith we will make a concerted effort to sift through what it is that the Church teaches in order that we might enter deeper into relationship with Jesus, our Lord. “Faith seeks understanding” as St. Anselm reminds us. It’s like a couple in love. They are always seeking to know more and more about the other. As they get to know each other much more is revealed and their relationship deepens in so many new ways. The same could be said about our faith. We believe, but as we come to an even greater understanding of the faith we have this natural thirst for more.

Jesus is always inviting us (never imposing) to enter ever deeper to know Him and the truths of His Church. After John the Baptist indicated to a couple of the apostles that Jesus was the Lamb of God they were drawn to Him and wanted to know more. They followed him and asked, “Where are you staying?” Jesus simply responded, “come and see.” He gently invited these eager souls to a friendship that would allow them to dive far beyond the surface level.

I imagine this Year of Faith as a time of Jesus extending His hand to us to “come and see” the truths that our faith has proclaimed throughout all of Christendom. A time to look at again or perhaps for the first time what it is that we as Catholics believe. Pope Benedict reminded us earlier this year that “the door of faith is always open for us.” There’s no better time than now to cross the threshold of that door. We have been presented with a great invitation to crack open our Catechism or to Google a past encyclical of one of our Holy Fathers in order to further orient our hearts toward Jesus.

Whenever someone mentions the Year of Faith I can’t help but think of that sign hanging from Macy’s department store. Our faith gives us a million reasons to believe. I encourage you to take some time this year to explore the marvelous treasures of our Catholic faith.