Faith, well fed and exercised, is a beautiful gem.
Many look at religion as a list of dos and don’ts, what is right versus what is wrong. In that perspective, faith is no more than a dividing line that separates us. And since all of us are sinners, that puts us in the wrong column, the don’t list.
For others, faith is compartmentalized, with routines that are practiced only at precise times and occasions. It may mean going to church for Christmas and Easter, or it could be most Sundays, as long as other activities don’t get in the way. Sometimes it’s arriving a bit late and leaving early; definitely not staying more than an hour. These approaches are like a slice of a raw gemstone: flat with no definition or brilliance. This is because there is nothing to reflect the light of God.
Then there are those who are their faith. They do not separate the spiritual from mental, physical, and emotional aspects of their lives. Faith is living and breathing within them and in everything they say and do. For example, preparation for the sacrament of reconciliation begins with an examination of conscience. Being truly sorry for the errors committed, and intending to avoid these failings in the future, the penitents humbly seek forgiveness from the priest. Believing the priest to be acting in persona Christi, it’s with an open heart that they listen to him. After receiving absolution, the newly reunited with God are filled with joy and cautious of committing the same errors again. In this way, the light of God enters their faith and is able to be reflected within them in many different ways, just as light coming into a precision-cut gemstone is reflected off the various facets producing a sense of awe and wonder at its beauty.
For these, it is not enough just to go through the routine of confession. It is a true participation in the sacrament. The examination of conscience includes everything that makes up their daily life. They take the time to contemplate, not just actions committed but opportunities that were neglected. From the approach to the sacrament, in the preparation and then the execution, each is like a facet cut in the gemstone. The more we seek a stronger faith the more facets in our faith gemstone will dazzle as we let the light of God shine in our life.
Just like a gemstone cutter will take time in cutting gemstones, so we too slowly shape our faith by actively participating and trying to go into a deeper relationship with God. It is a lifelong process that will create a unique gemstone of rare beauty that is priceless.