We’ve all heard the saying, “Practice make perfect.” So what does that mean in the life of faith?
When you think of practice, what comes to mind? Is it sitting at the piano, playing the various scales to the beat of a metronome? Or is it throwing a ball through a hoop again and again, making small changes to hand placement, balance, and body movement? Maybe it’s drawing a circle over, and over, and over again until it is perfect.
Just like any activity at which you want to become better, faith is all about practice. It’s not about doing things correctly all the time, it’s about practicing so as to continuously improve, coming closer to perfection. And just like with any other activity, you don’t tackle all the skills needed at once, but rather concentrate on perfecting one and slowly applying what has been learned to more advanced skills.
Since faith is a relationship with God, how can one “practice” a relationship? By getting to know him, by seeing God in every person, by recognizing his handiwork in all of creation. That’s why a life of faith is more than just following rules, treating people nicely or going to Church on Sundays. It’s important to be at Mass on Sunday, not just to cross it off the list, but to be filled with God’s message, to help you hone the skill you are perfecting and to encourage you as you practice throughout the week.
Often in our culture, people who claim to be of a particular religious affiliation are held to a different standard. Part of that is understandable; it is good that a person can be known by their faith. Other times, it’s an expectation of perfection, forgetting that faith is a journey and people can have good days and less than ideal days as they practice. It’s not an excuse to do whatever, but a call for mercy towards those that do not meet to the standards yet.
We are all on this faith journey, so it’s okay if you’re not perfect. It will take a lifetime to get to your goal. Practicing faith is continuing to deepen that relationship with God. One day you may join Him in heaven. Since all who reach heaven are saints, then practice helps make a saint!