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Posted April 7, 2005

Book: The Gift of Faith
Author: Father Tadeusz Dajczer
The Arms of Mary Foundation, Ventura, CA pp. 220

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The Gift of Faith looks at faith in an unconventional way, yet it is rooted in the sound theology of traditional Catholic spirituality. The fruit of spiritual direction given to people for over thirty years, this book expounds fatherly guidance to those who desire to live in deep union with God in their everyday life. With simplicity and clarity, the author manages to draw the reader’s attention and awaken the yearning to experience God and to follow a specific path of sanctification. The Gift of Faith is a constant call to abandon oneself to God according to the Gospel edict: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Thus, the frequent call to radicalism in faith meets the idea of the New Evangelization, which has been continually proclaimed by John Paul II.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The virtue of humour, which is seeing the absurd in the world, is a religious remedy which may have the value of an exorcism.

. . . The Christian sense of humour will help you fight another enemy: your own self. This is also an idol, which is deadly serious, untouchable and absolute. It cannot be touched or ridiculed; it cannot be offended or criticised. Using humour to fight this idol becomes a religious remedy and an act of faith when you look at yourself and try to see that ‘self’ in the appropriate light: In reality, I am truly such a small ‘nothing’. Why then do I believe that my concerns are the most important? Why do I suffer for my defeats and troubles so much, and why am I so deadly serious? It would suffice to look at everything with a little bit of friendly scoff, to see what I am so worried about, what I fear and what I care about is really silly compared to the one important reality which is God.

Christian humour is a remedy by which the idol of your ‘self’ is dethroned. When you see the humour in a situation in which your ‘self’ ascends to the throne, then, at least for a while, this situation is ridiculed and becomes harmless to you. Your vanity and pride become unmasked; that which pretended to be great or to be the threat arousing fear in you is ridiculed and unmasked. In this way, the religious remedy of humour also has the significant role of preserving your psychological balance.

Humour is a ‘religious remedy’ by which you can tell yourself, “Look how absurd I am, I worry about trifles, I have so many troubles, I am ruining my health. But, in reality everything is like ashes, like rubbish and finally may prove to be worthless. Try to look at your life in the light of faith; try to joke about yourself. This may be difficult because the ‘virtue of humour’ sometimes requires heroism. Nevertheless it enables you to attain the proper proportion between the two realities: God and yourself. In this way, the virtue of humour cleanses your faith of egoism and strengthens it. It will show you with great clarity that only God is really important in life. That is why you should not make yourself the center of the universe. Perceive yourself as a small grain of and, as St. Therese spoke of herself, a small nothing, which should not be too much cared for or troubled or worried about: “Pray,” asked the Saint, “that the grain of sand become an atom seen only by the eyes of Jesus!” (Letter from Therese to Sister Agnes, January 6th 1889).

. . . At the basis of most sins lies steadfast importance and absolute gravity. You sin because yo are so very important. Casting aside this importance through Christian humour, writes Walter Kasper, makes us capable of: “a serene and truly human existence.” Humour points out the drollness of our pretending to be important. The lack of humour and the accompanying irritability is one of the most important accusations levelled at modern Christians.

Table of Contents:

Part One

The Virtue of Faith

I. Faith as sharing in the life of God
II. Faith as adhering to Christ
III. Faith as relying on Christ and entrusting ourselves to Him
IV. Faith as acknowledging one’s own helplessness

Part Two

The Dynamism of Faith

I. Conversion as a dimension of faith
II. A pinch of humour amidst faith
III. Trials of faith
IV. The desert
V. Rich and humble temporal means

Part Three

The Actualization of Faith

I. The sacrament of baptism
II. Confirmation
III. The Eucharist
IV. Listening intently to the Word of God
V. Prayer as an actualization of faith
VI. Love as the actualisation of faith