Faith As a Way of Knowing

Suzanne Cookes, RSCJ
This Sunday we will celebrate “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. From now through Christmas, we are urged to focus on that spirit of joy that emanates from knowing that Christ is indeed with us, in us and among us.  Embracing this knowledge is fundamentally an act of faith.
This Sunday we will celebrate “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. From now through Christmas, we are urged to focus on that spirit of joy that emanates from knowing that Christ is indeed with us, in us and among us.  Embracing this knowledge is fundamentally an act of faith. 
 
Choosing faith as a way of knowing is an essential response to the 2016 Chapter Call -To Reach New Frontiers. Through this call we are all invited to “set sail” in the Spirit of Philippine as a community… “towards new geographical and existential frontiers in order to accompany the life that is emerging…”  At the Chapter we had many discussions regarding “existential boundaries.”  It seems to me if Advent is “an invitation to see the world differently; if it is an assertion that all our present stands under judgment,” (Walter Brueggemann, SJ) then the choice of faith as a way of knowing requires crossing the frontier towards transcendence.  In choosing faith as a way of knowing, we cross into the realm of mystery.
 
David Ricoh describes this movement… “Faith draws us into a transcendent mystery…
 
        of our own and the world’s existence. It is necessary for the full range for
        knowledge of appearances and what lies beyond them. No single science or
        combination of all sciences (including noetic and extrasensory ones) adequately
        expresses the variety and depth of reality. Faith posits that there is a reality that
        transcends fact, proof, nature’s ordinances, and sensory cognition. It is neither
        objective or subjective but transcendent. It proclaims that reality is richer than
        science or intuition can contain.” 
                                        - When Catholic Means Cosmic-Opening to a Big Hearted Faith
 
I placed the sentence in bold in order to emphasize that faith does not ignore reality nor does it operate without cognition.  No faith is informed by the full engagement of our whole being -- our intellect, our emotions, our will. 

Like Philippine and Sophie, we live in a time of complexity, change and uncertainty.  Both Sophie and Philippine rejected the hopelessness of war and poverty in favor of faith.  Faith in what we might ask. The simple answer is faith in the sure knowledge and confidence of being in relationship Christ.  I think it is essential for each of us to realize that… “the certainty of faith coexists with the defiance of the way things are now in the linear world. It is not that the events of faith are ambiguous; it is that they are more than any rational or intuitive mode of knowing can accommodate” (Ricoh). I agree with Ricoh.  Advent offers us a chance to deepen our faith through prayer and through serious thinking about how and why I believe the fulness of God’s revelation in Christ.

We see in our early mothers as we do in ourselves that faith involves certainty and doubt.  The act of cultivating our inner life through prayer, meditation and compassionate action which is the focus of Advent is serious work.  This work is rooted in the reality of our lives, our joys and our sorrows.  If faith fails to consider the totality of our experience, then it will not ultimately sustain us.  Faith as a way of knowing involves our intellect, our emotions, our will -- our whole being. Faith serves as the foundation for our integrity.  The alignment of our minds, hearts and wills allow us to respond with confidence to the Chapter Call that urges us To Reach New Frontiers … “to defend justice, peace and the integrity of creation in response to those who are searching for meaning in their lives, those who have been hurt, displaced and excluded for reasons of poverty, violence and destruction of the environment.”  In our response, we shall experience the joy that Gaudete Sunday celebrates.
 
Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ is Head of the Conference of Sacred Heart Education.
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Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.