In today’s Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28), Jesus said to the Canaanite woman, “O woman, great is your faith!” There are many people in our Church, community, and world, who have great faith. In my own spiritual journey I have encountered the great faith of people in varied ways, from pilgrimages, to parish life, to ordinary and mundane experiences.
I am often moved by the faith expressed by individuals, sometimes questioning if I have as much faith and trust as they do. Recently I have experienced such expressions of faith by ecclesial movements within the Church. Members of these movements truly live and witness their great faith to the outside world.
I have seen the faith of the Focolare movement, founded by Chiara Lubich, and have been encouraged by the witness of those in the movement. I became familiar with the Focolare movement on an intellectual level—reading the writings of Lubich (in particular Mary: The Transparency of God) and through my research on the redemptive suffering of the movement’s recently beatified teenage member, Chiara Luce Badano.
I was so moved intellectually by the Focolare that I knew I wanted to see their movement lived in its truest expression. This led me to the annual gathering of the Focolare in the Midwest for their annual Mariapolis.
The people I met were people who really wanted to live their faith in everyday life. They challenged me to live my faith more concretely. The movement seeks to live unity and work toward the fulfillment of Christ’s prayer that all might be one. They identify with and do all things for the sake of Jesus Forsaken and Mary desolate.
A maxim that has stayed with me for weeks now is loving the person who Jesus has sent me to love in the present moment. As I strive to live a spirituality informed by the Focolare movement, it encourages me to be a person of great faith.
As we try to live the great faith of the Canaanite woman, I encourage you to consider exploring an ecclesial movement. Individuals who belong to these movements form a Christian community that will support you on your faith journey. They will challenge you to be people of greater faith and better Christians.
For me, it has been the Focolare movement, but there are many other ecclesial movements with different charisms. The following list is by no means comprehensive:
- Opus Dei
- Regnum Christi
- Catholic Worker Movement
- Community of St. Egidio
- Communion and Liberation (CL)
- Neocatechumenal Way
There are also third orders of many religious communities that may appeal to some: the Secular Franciscans, Third Order Carmelites, Benedictine Oblates, Oblates of the Community of St. Jean.
If you believe the Lord is calling you to take your faith journey to the next level, considering exploring one of the various ecclesial movements or third order groups of the Church. In them I have found great faith, and I am confident that you will too.