Faith is a gift from God, but we must participate.
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Faith is a supernatural and definitive gift from God. Nevertheless, it is not a “magical” gift. God, out of love for us, always calls upon our freedom: He asks for our participation in the development of the gifts He grants us. The gift of faith therefore requires a response on our part: assent to the revealed truth.
This assent of intelligence to Revelation is realized through an act of faith, which is rooted in the word of God as the Catholic Church teaches us. Thus we receive the content of the faith through the teaching of the Church. It is exercised through meditation.
Faith is preserved through memory. Faith is the rock on which all our supernatural life as baptized persons is based. It gives us a foretaste of the joy of Heaven. There, faith will be replaced by the vision of God. At this point we can draw four consequences.
It is up to us to believe in our faith and to doubt our doubts
First of all, faith, in perfecting human intelligence, can surpass that intelligence, but it cannot contradict it, for both have the same end: the knowledge of truth. Secondly, since faith has its source in the spiritual soul, not in emotion, it is not a matter of emotionally “feeling” faith, or even love or hope. Thirdly, faith is exercise, struggle. God’s gentle but disconcerting pedagogy consists in letting doubts come into us so that we can exercise our faith! It is then up to us to believe in our faith and to doubt our doubts. It happens so often that, in these circumstances, we give great deal of credit to our doubts and so little faith … to our faith!
Faith is certainty. No one, if he is sensible, would base his life commitment on a doubt! This is why obedience to the truth becomes the noblest attitude of the believer. It follows from this that one can lose faith, through negation or willful doubt in the face of the Church’s teaching, even if the object is only one of the articles proposed in our belief. Thus, he who stubbornly refuses to give his interior assent to one of the points contained in the faith no longer has faith, even if he is a well of theological science! On the contrary, he who does not explicitly believe in everything, but who is ready to believe as this knowledge becomes available to him, has faith.
Finally, the fourth consequence, St. James tells us that faith without deeds is a dead faith (Jas 2:20). Therefore, for our faith to be alive, it must be active “through charity” (Gal 5:6). We must dare to confess our faith out loud. We must dare to bear witness to it by our actions. Speaking of the “death of God,” Cardinal Ratzinger had this to say: “What could have made God more problematic in our atheistic world, if not the challenging character of the faith and love of those who believe in him?” Witnessing God’s love also nourishes our faith.
Father Nicolas Buttet
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