When I first came to a personal ownership of my faith, I had assimilated from somewhere the belief that faith, and its attendant moral constellation, somehow drained life of its vigor and siphoned out its joie de vivre. I guess in some ways at that time it was true, as I had so radically altered my moral compass and found the pull of old sinful attachments made everything within me into a wearying battle. But once I moved toward a greater inner moral integration and discovered the thrill of saving grace, of new-found virtues, of interior prayer, and the joy that came from faith filled relationships, I quickly realized that my early perception of faith as pale and colorless had been dead wrong.
In fact, I could imagine no more colorful, adventuresome and thrilling journey than the one I have been allowed to walk these last 26 years. And as a theologian, I have been permitted by God, in fearful and wonderful ways, to peer into what the Armenian Orthodox liturgy calls deep mystery, “things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). I have been privileged to live a life married to a beautiful woman of strong character, fiery love and singing faith who once told me that she knew the man who would one day marry her would first fall in love with her while she sang to God at Church (and so it was!). I have been privileged to grow up and become a father with vibrant and fun-loving children who know how to very naturally breathe their faith in and out in ways I never imagined as a child. I have been privileged to know countless extraordinary and ordinary heroes and heroines of selfless faith, some of whom I can count as my friends. And now I have been called into something I never imagined I would be given opportunity to do: to help form men preparing to be seared in their souls by the Priesthood of Jesus.
Faith rocks my safe-zones and calls me out of myself toward others in cheerful service, allows me to laugh, to cry, to enjoy the good things of this world without being enslaved to them, to face suffering and evil with hope, to experience others’ failures in the light of a wise and kindly Providence that rains mercy on the just and the wicked, to encounter again and again the wretchedness of my own sins greeted by an ever-running Father who wishes to welcome me back home again and again.
Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen. ― Benedict XVI