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Reading our way into growth

THE ANNUAL HONG Kong Book Fair is an occasion when many Catholic books are on display and readily available, but unfortunately, a lot of people remain indifferent towards books, only buying ones that help their children. There appears to be considerable room for improvement in the reading on faith-formation department.

What sort of role does reading play in the process of faith-growth? Although many people may feel it is not essential, there are those who would disagree.

A simple example may shed some light on this issue. The knowledge received by primary and secondary school students is mostly instilled by teachers rather than based on their own research. However, university and postgraduate students who wish to attain knowledge must go beyond this to gain insights made by other scholars in the world.

As Catholics, we can bring our faith to a deeper level in terms of knowledge, experience, relationships with God and personal commitment. In other words, we should explore and examine the needs of our own situation and explore how to respond with faith.

We must ask ourselves whether we should maintain our faith as passive, spoon-fed recipients? Or should we not take the initiative to get food to prevent malnutrition in faith?

Specifically speaking, can we simply count on the weekly 15-minute homily at Sunday Mass to receive nutrition for our faith? Without taking the initiative, we may fail to absorb most of the content and our faith will inevitably remain passive.

We are immature if our pursuit of faith is like a passing fad. When there is a craze for pilgrimages, all of us swarm to go. When a priest highly recommends a book, all of us flock to purchase it, but it can easily end up gathering dust.

This pursuit of fads has a negative impact on the faith life of the Church. It leads to a passive spirit, which hinders the living out of the threefold vocation of priest, prophet and king, not to mention religious vocation.

We are in urgent need of pro-active and enthusiastic people who are at least genuinely interested in faith. People who are interested in technology and leisure are happy to buy books on those topics. In the same way, we should nurture our interest in the faith.

If we are interested in the word of God, we will read. If we are interested in spirituality, we will study different traditions. In this way, our faith life will mature and not remain passive.

When we delve deeply into faith, we bring faith into practice. If we want to study Franciscan spirituality, we will read books, attend seminars or even go to nature to commune with the Lord. When we feel touched by social ethics, we will look at people from other places with a different perspective and may even foster a poor child.

Every action is a response to the call of the Lord. Eventually, we will no longer be passive, but become enthusiastic, pro-active people who are committed in our daily lives.


Willingness to read kick-starts the change from passivity to activity in faith and will also re-instill dynamism into it. SE