"Big Four" Highlights


‘Happy Fault’

Mistakes can make for a stronger faith, with God’s grace

By Jason Godin

An online career advancement network for young professionals, named Levo, recently compiled a list titled “The 8 Biggest Professional Mistakes Millennials Make.” Such errors – the bolded headings that follow – are worth sharing, it seems to me, because they can also serve as starting points for building a stronger faith, with treasures from Church teaching as strong supports.

“Running on empty”
Spiritual strength comes from the Lord, even in times of our physical exhaustion. “Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall,” proclaims the prophet Isaiah, “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).

“Trying to be perfect”
Our imperfection drives home an often overlooked point about faith once made by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Holiness “does not consist in never having erred or sinned,” the Holy Father said. Rather, a mistake may increase “the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially for reconciliation and forgiveness” (General Audience, 31 January 2007).

“Freaking about the future”
Faith straightens our path in life not by making each of our steps simpler, but surer. As St. Augustine once advised: “Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.”

“Staying away from what makes you nervous”
Faith invites us to fight our basic instincts to avoid uncomfortable situations or challenges by trusting totally in God. As Pope Francis observed in his homily during the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, the “dangerous temptation” toward uncertainty rooted in “doubts about the working of the Spirit” is an obstacle to a faith, yet the Spirit can work wonders in the world if we allow him.

“Not communicating clearly”
Prayer provides greater clarity as it communicates. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches vocal, meditative and contemplative expressions of Christian prayer, for example, as practices that flow with a nourishing rhythm defined by “composure of heart” (2698-2699).

“Playing dumb”
Speaking with all the intelligence we can muster benefits all parties involved. “[M]ake every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

“Not making the most of your mentor”
There is wisdom in age and experience. We can gain it from others when we take the time to watch and listen. The history of the Church shows mentorships rooted in faith are no different. What would the Twelve Apostles have been without watching and listening to Jesus?

“Being driven by fear”
Three words from St. John Paul II say it all: “Be not afraid!”

Sin is a reality of life, whether we admit it or not. Dark demands sometimes sneak into our desires and deeds. Moments emerge when vice overshadows virtue. We have days where disobedience outweighs obedience.

Thankfully “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom. 5:20) can serve as our motto. It is also a blueprint for building a stronger faith, beginning within the rubble of our errors. It prompts our conscience to acknowledge when we’re wrong in what we did or didn’t do, consoles us with the mercy of Christ, and graces us with enough conviction to confess our sins in the confessional and to start anew – again – for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Jason Godin is managing editor of Fathers for Good