Faith Matters: What we believe makes a difference: Examining our fundamental beliefs is a key to truly freedom and happiness

The Rev. William Lunney of St. Joseph Parish in Shelburne Falls.

The Rev. William Lunney of St. Joseph Parish in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By THE REV. WILLIAM LUNNEY

Pastor, St. Joseph Parish

Published: 09-29-2023 11:39 AM

As humans, we all live our lives based on underlying beliefs about who we are, beliefs about the meaning and purpose of our lives, beliefs about how to act in this world, and what is good and not good. Sometimes these core beliefs are unconscious to us and buried deep in us. Sometimes these beliefs are given to us by the world around us, by family upbringing, by our friends. Often we never take the time to examine our fundamental beliefs and why we live and act the way we do. The great philosopher Socrates is quoted as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

If we are not examining our fundamental beliefs and how they affect our whole lives, then we are not truly free, but are captive to ideas and beliefs that may or may not be true and may be helping or hurting us and our happiness.

I believe in God!

This is one of the most fundamental beliefs anyone can have. Some reject this belief in God.

When I hear some people’s ideas about the concept of God, as cruel, judgmental, indifferent to suffering, I agree that I would reject that God also, and that such a God could exist.

Some people cannot even utter the word “God.” It is so highly charged with various meanings and potential misunderstandings. Some can only refer to a “Higher Power” that is outside of themselves. A Higher Power that can help them and save them from themselves and a path of self-destruction. I respect the traditions that do not name God, because the name is too holy and too mysterious to be spoken, and the concept is so far beyond our human understanding, that whatever we say or think about God falls short of grasping the mystery of who God is.

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Yet when I look at the beauty of the sparkling stars at night, and consider the vastness of the universe, the billions of light years that expand all around this tiny planet, and even my tinier being, I cannot help but feel deep within me a faith, a belief in a Creator of All Things. A creator who must have immense power to create all this. A creator who understands beauty since these stars are so beautiful. A creator who made me, insignificant as I am, for a purpose. A creator who instilled within me an ability to even be able to recognize beauty and be awe-struck by the immensity and the miracle of all creation. Yes, I believe in God, even though my finite understanding cannot fully grasp and contain this God. I choose to believe, and I accept this word of God as something, someone, infinitely greater than myself.

I believe in Jesus Christ!

Is it possible that this God wants to remain hidden from us, as a distant and remote God? Is it possible that this God wanted to reveal himself to the creation he made? Yes, I believe it is possible that this God wants to reveal himself, not just in the stars and the beauty of his creation, but in a more intimate way. I believe it is possible that this awesome creator, God, loved humanity so much, that He wanted to come among us and live with us, to teach us about Himself, and about ourselves, and of His immense love for us. He wanted to teach us also about the danger of making ‘false gods’ that we center our lives around. He wanted us to be free to choose or reject him. He wanted to tell us that we are made by Him, and for Him, and our hearts will be restless, uneasy and unfulfilled until we allow Him to enter into us and love us.

Yes, I Believe that Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, born a human like us in all things except sin, is the incarnation, the “world made flesh,” “Emmanuel” God – is – with – us, the fulfillment of all the ancient prophecies, and the fulfillment of every human heart! After careful examination, these are my beliefs.

Allow Him into your lives, choose to believe!

St. Joseph Parish is at 34 Monroe Ave., Shelburne Falls. We have Sunday Masses at 8 and 10:30 a.m. and daily Masses, Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m. You can email us at stjosephccsf@gmail.com, and visit our website, www.stjosephparishma.com. The parish also includes St. Christopher Mission Church on Route 2 in Charlemont, offering Saturday Evening Mass at 6 p.m. and St. John the Baptist Mission Church on Route 112 in Colrain, offering Saturday Evening Mass at 4 p.m.