"As a priest, people often talk to me about their lives and their problems. Inevitably, I ask them how their relationship with God is. I can usually tell from their response if they have a long-distance relationship with the Lord. The language they use reveals that a deep, personal friendship with God is somewhat of a foreign concept. For example, they’ll say, “Well, I say my prayers at night before I go to bed,” or “I go to church,” or, my favorite, “I talk to the Big Guy in the sky; we’re tight.”
Great. Saying prayers at night and going to church is a wonderful way to deepen our relationship with God. But saying prayers at night and going to church does not necessarily mean that we have a deep, personal friendship with the Lord either. And as for “talking to the Big Guy in the sky,” that’s simply not Christian spirituality; it’s deism. In fact, therein lay the problem: too many people think God is “out there somewhere” rather than very close to them.
"The following article is adapted from Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids
Most people think that faith is something you either have or you don’t. But research by Emory University’s Dr. James Fowler revealed that faith evolves in discernible stages throughout our lifespan. At each stage, a person’s faith needs to be nourished in different ways if it is to grow and mature into the next stage. If we don’t receive the right kind of support, faith development can stall or even wither. Because Fowler viewed faith as a natural and essential part of every human person’s search for meaning, significance, and transcendence, Fowler’s Stages of Faith track with other developmental stages you might remember from your Psych 101 class, such as Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development and Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development. What Stage of Faith are you at? And what do you need to do to more effectively continue your search for meaning, significance, and transcendence?
STAGE 0: Primal Faith (Infancy)– People might be surprised to realize that babies have faith. It’s true that they don’t have a conscious experience of faith and can’t articulate specific beliefs, but this stage is tremendously important because it sets the stage for baby’s view of God and the world. If parents respond to baby’s needs promptly, generously, and consistently, baby learns the basic, gut-level sense of trust that is necessary to believe that when I call out, God will answer. If parents delay responding to baby’s cries, baby develops gut-level insecurity that anyone will respond when I cry out or that there is anyone to bother crying out to in the first place.