In Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith), Pope Benedict XVI's reflection announcing the recently ended Year of Faith, he mentioned those who, "while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world." According to Benedict,
This search is an authentic “preamble” to the faith, because it guides people onto the path that leads to the mystery of God. Human reason, in fact, bears within itself a demand for “what is perennially valid and lasting”. This demand constitutes a permanent summons, indelibly written into the human heart, to set out to find the One whom we would not be seeking had he not already set out to meet us. To this encounter, faith invites us and it opens us in fullness.
During this season, Christians rightly rejoice. And it's natural for those of us who possess a certain religious security to talk about it, to proclaim it confidently. But I think it's important to remember those whom our Pope Emeritus identifies above, those who are still searching; those who don't feel connected to Christ or who doubt God's existence. This category, those within the space of the preambles, includes our family, our friends, our neighbors, and at one time it included those who now believe (including myself). For those of us who teach, this category can include many -- if not most -- students. Often, their struggle to say "yes" to God arises through no fault of their own; it could be the result of extraordinary hardship or a stumbling block that we can't fathom. It could be God's own doing.
Whatever the reason, we must offer them patience and generosity. We must sit with their questions, empathize with their struggles and hear the humanity in their hesitation. No matter what they say or do, we must commit to being their steady shining light that, like the star over Bethlehem, guides them to the feet of Christ.