"Big Four" Highlights


The Difference Faith Makes

For these creative Catholics, it makes all the difference

TV, music, movies, You Tube stars. In our pop culture, it seems that creative people are against or indifferent to the Catholic faith. So as part of our Year of Faith series, Fathers for Good sought out a number of Catholics in media and music to ask what faith means to them. FFG correspondent John Burger asked the questions.

Alejandro Bermúdez
Consecrated layman and editor-in-chief of the Catholic News Agency and ACI Prensa, the most popular online Catholic news provider in Spanish and Portuguese. He is the editor of the new book from Ignatius,
Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our Friend.

FFG: When did you first decide to take your Catholic faith seriously?

Alejandro Bermúdez: I was raised by a non-believing father and a non-practicing mother, so I was a little bit of a strange case in my native country, Peru, because most people would proclaim to be Catholic. I went on retreat when I was a teenager and it started a process where it dawned on me when I was about 18; it was a long process to understand the reality of faith and the beauty of faith.

FFG: Could you imagine life without faith?

Bermúdez: I see my faith as tied to the discovery of my vocation as a consecrated layman. There is absolutely no way that I would find anything more enduring. Faith is believing that the best cause you can serve and the only one that makes your life worthwhile is to reflect to others the beauty of the Church as Jesus’ sacrament of salvation. That’s the summary of my life; it’s between everything, with my faith, and nothing without it.

Regina Doman
Catholic wife, mother, author and editor. Her most recent books include the adult novel Rapunzel Let Down: A Fairy Tale Retold (Chesterton Press) and a comic book life of the Holy Father, Pope Francis: I Believe in Mercy (MangaHero).

FFG: When did you first decide to take your Catholic faith seriously?

Regina Doman: Faith was always important to me from a young age, but it wasn't until I was in college that I realized how unique and precious the Catholic faith was. Like most Catholics growing up in the ‘70s, I had poor catechesis, despite the fact that my parents were devout and tried to do their best to rectify what was missing in my Catholic grade and high school religion classes.

Different things happened along the way that made a difference, including my parents and individual Catholic mentors. But one thing I will mention that impacted me enormously my junior year of high school was reading an excerpt from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, “The Paradoxes of Christianity.” This amazing essay helped me appreciate the historicity of the Church and how it functioned as an arbiter of truth through the centuries. I might not have known much Church history, but as a teen I knew enough about modern relativism to recognize that a guide was needed beyond the individual conscience. Chesterton’s essay helped put flesh on what that could look like for me.

But the most significant thing really was attending Franciscan University and taking the core classes of theology, philosophy and history, which shaped my vision of the faith profoundly. There’s no substitute for good catechesis by passionate Catholic teachers who love the faith. There I also met for the first time priests and religious who were my age and who radiated love for Christ. I graduated from Franciscan in 1992 a committed Catholic and have never lost my love for the Church. My class ring is just as much a reminder to me as my scapular of the daily impact my faith has on my life. I wish all graduates of Catholic colleges could say the same.

FFG: Could you imagine life without faith?

Doman: Well, it kind of is my life. To quote that same essay by Chesterton: “A man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it. And the more converging reasons he finds pointing to this conviction, the more bewildered he is if asked suddenly to sum them up.”

FFG: Give a concrete example of the difference faith has made in your life.

Doman: Chesterton’s essay again: “There is, therefore, about all complete conviction a kind of huge helplessness ... And this hesitation chiefly arises, oddly enough, from an indifference about where one should begin... In the case of this defense of the Christian conviction I confess that I would as soon begin the argument with one thing as another; I would begin it with a turnip or a taximeter cab.”

Well, my faith determines what time I get up: I would sleep in longer if I didn’t have to grope for the Bible and read a chapter aloud to my husband. It determines what I wear: that hunt for the scapular I left in the shower (again), and figuring out which medal to clip onto my jewelry.

Instead of being random, let me give a real-world example. As a woman, I love my bling, but over the past few years, I've really had a desire to wear a holy medal every day. The Miraculous Medal is an important devotion to me, (St. Maximilian Kolbe's influence), and I also have started feeling closer to certain saints like St. Anthony, whom my great-grandmother was devoted to. I recently inherited one of her medals, so I've started wearing them more often. But a simple chain doesn't cut it for me, so I put my favorite medals on clips and I clip them to whatever fashion necklace I choose to wear.

Manfred Honeck
Austrian-born music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. An accomplished violinist and violist, he studied music at the Academy of Music in Vienna and spent more than 10 years as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.

FFG: When did you first decide to take your Catholic faith seriously?

Manfred Honeck: Well, I must say that it is a bit strange as I don’t exactly remember really when I started to pray. I do remember, though, that whenever I entered a church, I never wanted to go in without saying a prayer in the church. I was always longing for that. And I think that when I understood the mystery of the Eucharist, or started to understand it, then I also began to realize how important my faith is for me.

So it came one by one — and firstly, I realized when I was a teenager that I myself decided to pray because we did not pray at that time in my family. Here, I began to see that faith really means something to me — but in that age, I had not yet a full knowledge about faith and the teachings of the Church. That came later.

FFG: Could you imagine life without faith?

Honeck: I will answer this question and also continue my thoughts on the first question. I didn’t want to live my life, my daily life, both at work and in the family, somehow disconnected from faith. My desire is always to integrate faith into all aspects of my life. That means everything. That means for everything that I do, I question: is this according to my faith? Is this the will of God that I do? Is this according to what God asks of us? This applies to my personal life, in my work and even in my thoughts.

And now I come to the answer of the question: of course, I cannot imagine a life without faith because faith is so much integrated into my life. Faith is part of my life and sometimes I wonder what if I would not have this direction of faith, how would my life be?

Philip F. Lawler
Editor of Catholic World News, which he founded in 1995. He has served as director of studies for the Heritage Foundation, editor of Crisis magazine and editor of Catholic World Report. He has authored six books and is the editor of When Faith Goes Viral (Crossroad).

FFG: When did you first decide to take your Catholic faith seriously?

Phil Lawler: As a child I was serious about my faith, thanks to the influence of my parents. But I lost my faith during my high-school years – mostly because of my own truly sophomoric attitude, but partly because what I was taught in religion classes, in the years right after Vatican II, was so shallow and unconvincing. Then in grad school, studying philosophy, I encountered St. Thomas Aquinas and quickly realized that the Catholic faith was much deeper than I had realized — in fact deeper than I could fathom. At about the same time I discovered contemplative prayer, so that my “reversion” wasn’t just an intellectual thing.

FFG: Give a concrete example of the difference faith has made in your life.

Lawler: In 2000, for the Jubilee Year, we took the whole family (seven children) on a pilgrimage to Rome. We were strapped for cash at the time, and traveled on a bare-bones budget—sleeping on the stone floor of an unheated and unfurnished apartment: a real pilgrimage. On Christmas Eve we stood in St. Peter’s Square, soaking and shivering in a torrential rain, for midnight Mass. It all sounds miserable, and yet everyone on the family remembers that trip as a wonderful happy occasion.

Kathryn Jean Lopez
Editor-at-large of National Review Online, director of Catholic Voices USA, and a columnist for Catholic Pulse website. She is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and serves on the Archdiocese of New York’s Pro-Life Commission.

FFG: When did you first decide to take your Catholic faith seriously?

Kathryn Jean Lopez: In grade school, I realized I wanted to be near the Blessed Sacrament before the school day started, wanting him to infuse me with his grace. Those may not have been my words at the time, but it was the longing.

In high school, striving to be present and loving amidst the “college prep” stress. In college, I was confronted with the questions that are not just the questions big incidents raise, but daily life really does, if we’re serious about being Christians and answering our calls:

Is your faith for real? Will you stand up for it when it’s uncomfortable? Will you go to God? Will you let him live in you, without putting up a fight? In pain, will your heart harden or open? Will you trust or will you try to pretend you can regain a control you actually never had?

Maturing in faith means realizing in joy and sorrow, in friendship and betrayal, in peace and war, we’re called to Trinitarian lives. The daily question is: “This day, whom will I serve?” Right now, in this moment. It’s daily. It’s hourly. The choice to take faith seriously is one for today, whatever day it is, every day. It’s major, for sure. It’s everything.

FFG: Could you imagine life without faith?

Lopez: Like the encyclical Lumen Fidei says, faith illuminates everything. I’d die a brutal spiritual death without faith. I don’t want to imagine life without it. I want everyone I meet, everyone I pass on the street, everyone I love, to know faith in Christ, to bathe in his merciful love, to be challenged by it, to embrace it, and let the light of faith guide their lives.

FFG: Give a concrete example of the difference faith has made in your life.

Lopez: I could not love without faith. I would not know love without it. Faith draws us out of ourselves. It gives us courage. It is love, a great gift of the Father. That might not be concrete enough an answer. Does it get more concrete though? I praise him as I awake in the morning. He’ll awaken me yet.

If people truly understand that they are loved by our Creator with a merciful love that we could never earn, we would live lives of gratitude and generosity and joy. What a difference that would make! So we try and we pray. We ought to pray for one another that we live our lives differently, that we live lives of encounter, as Pope Francis keeps putting it, centered on, illuminated by, transformed by Christ.