Saturday 27th August 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Characteristics Of Faith

February 28, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Part 3

Last week, we saw that faith and understanding go hand-in-hand. Although mankind does not possess the capacity to intellectually grasp many of God’s infinite mysteries and truths, he was created with a nature that aspires toward truth, beauty, and goodness. With regard to faith, the human person has a natural desire to seek to understand what he comes to believe through faith. This innate tendency is indeed good, for a more penetrating knowledge leads not only to deeper faith but also to a greater and more profound love of God.
We saw also that faith and reason never contradict each other, that although faith is above reason there can never be a true discrepancy between the two. If such ever appears to be the case, one or both have been misunderstood — for God, who is Truth, is the Source of each and cannot contradict Himself.
We now turn our attention to another fundamentally important characteristic of faith: It must be free. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) unambiguously teaches that to be human, “man’s response to God by faith must be free” (CCC, n. 160). The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae (DH) instructs us with compelling clearness that “it is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that . . . no one is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will” (DH, n. 10).
Why is this so vitally important? Simply put, it would be a violation of man’s free will, an affront to his very dignity as a human person, if he were forced to believe through coercion or threats.
For as Dr. Peter Kreeft puts it, “what can be coerced is fear, not faith” (Catholic Christianity, pp. 21-22). Authentic love cannot truly be present if it is through fear that one believes.
The Catechism goes on to emphasize that faith is necessary to attain salvation. In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that “he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Again in St. John’s Gospel, Jesus says that “he who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him” (John 3:36). These are but two of numerous instances in Sacred Scripture where our Lord and Savior unmistakably makes known to mankind that each person’s freely given “response of faith” is not an option, but a necessity if one is to attain the ultimate goal for which we all were created — union with God in Heaven.
Dignitatis Humanae makes the connection between the freedom of one’s response in faith and its necessity in the following way: “God calls men to serve Him in spirit and in truth, hence they are bound in conscience but they stand under no compulsion. God has regard for the dignity of the human person whom He Himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom….[Christ’s] intention was to rouse faith in His hearers and to confirm them in faith, not to exert coercion upon them. He did indeed denounce the unbelief of some who listened to Him, but He left vengeance to God in expectation of the Day of Judgment” (DH, n. 11).
One is reminded of the parable of the wheat field in which weeds were sown. Both those who received the word of God with faith (the wheat) and those who rejected it (the weeds) were allowed to grow together until harvest time at which time they were separated and judged accordingly (cf. Matt. 24-30).
So we know that “believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent Him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation” (CCC, n. 161), and that faith is “an entirely free gift that God makes to man” (CCC, n. 162). But at the same time, we must realize than man can misuse his freedom — by defining his own misguided and false definition of happiness, man is capable of losing the priceless gift of faith. St. Paul makes that very point in his letter to Timothy when he implores him to “wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Tim. 1:18-19).
Does not what St. Paul warns of seem to be prevalent in modern-day society where so many appear to outright reject God’s saving message? The parable of the sower who went out to sow his seed comes to mind. The seed (the word of God) is offered to all to believe and act upon, but man can freely choose to refuse (see Luke 8:5-15). How often that seems to happen in our secularized culture, and for so many futile, irrational, and fleeting reasons!
The Catechism, however, has good news even in this life for those who persevere and are steadfast in their faith: “Faith is already the beginning of eternal life” (CCC, n. 163). The distinguished fourth-century Doctor of the Church St. Basil the Great tells us: “When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy” (De Spiritu Sancto, chapter 15, n. 36). St. Paul tells us in Sacred Scripture: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor. 13:12).
In other words, through our faithful response to the word of God during our sojourn on earth, a foretaste of the joys of Heaven is possible. Within the innermost recesses of our soul we can experience a deep sense of peace that is a prelude of what is everlastingly in store for us in Heaven. This is despite “our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice, and death, [which] seem to contradict the Good News” (CCC, n. 164).

Periods Of Darkness

This seeming contradiction provides an excellent stepping-off point to briefly examine the phenomenon of interior darkness in the life of faith. Faith, as may be said of the other virtues, is not a feeling. It is an act of belief in truths revealed by God which requires assent of the intellect and the command of the will aided by the movement of divine grace. We know of great saints of the Church (e.g., St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Gemma Galgani) who experienced extended periods of darkness, of the total withdrawal of sensible feelings of faith. They demonstrate that interior darkness, even to the point of feeling complete abandonment by God, can be experienced in the midst of heroic faith.
As expressed in Come Be My Light (the private writings of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta as compiled by the postulator of her cause for sainthood, Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC), “Interior darkness . . . has been a common phenomenon among the numerous saints throughout Church history who have experienced what the Spanish Carmelite mystic St. John of the Cross termed the ‘dark night’” (p. 22).
Consider the following excerpt from a letter that Mother Teresa wrote to her archbishop:
“There is so much contradiction in my soul. Such deep longing for God — so deep that it is painful — a suffering continual —and yet not wanted by God — repulsed – empty — no faith — no love — no zeal. Souls hold no attraction — Heaven means nothing — to me it looks like an empty place — the thought of it means nothing to me and yet this torturing longing for God. Pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything. For I am only His — so He has every right over me. I am perfectly happy to be nobody even to God” (ibid., pp. 169-170).
As related in Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa did not sensibly feel the presence of faith for approximately 48 years except for one brief one-month period. Yet her heroic witness and the joy she continually radiated demonstrated the exact opposite: She not only possessed but tremendously increased in faith, hope, and charity during these dark years.
Let each of us pray for and aspire to attain the response of faith of this remarkable foundress of the Missionaries of Charity.

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Video: Biological males can stay overnight with female, but parents can’t be told, school officials say

NewsGenderThu Aug 25, 2016 – 2:22 pm EST ANNAPOLIS, MD, August 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Maryland school district will allow members of one biological sex to sleep in the bedrooms of the opposite sex during school activities – and…Continue Reading

Two Catholic nuns found murdered in Mississippi home

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found murdered in their home Thursday, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, according to officials. The nuns were identified as…Continue Reading

Life isn’t black and white – teach priests to discern the gray, Pope says

Vatican City, Aug 25, 2016 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a conversation with members of the Jesuit order from Poland, Pope Francis said the real life situations of everyday Catholics aren’t black and white, but rather vary on a…Continue Reading

Vatican newspaper article: Pope’s apostolic exhortation is magisterial teaching

August 24, 2016 Writing in the Vatican newspaper, a Spanish ecclesiology professor said that Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is part of the non-definitive ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff to which the faithful owe religious submission of intellect…Continue Reading

BREAKING: Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit

August 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaked emails through WikiLeaks reveal that billionaire globalist George Soros – one of Hilary Clinton’s top donors – paid $650,000 to influence Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the USA with a view to “shift[ing]…Continue Reading

Catholic school faculty member sues school after she’s fired for being gay

A lesbian teacher was fired from Paramus Catholic High School after administrators learned that she was married to a woman, according to her lawsuit. Kate Drumgoole, 33, was the school’s head basketball coach and dean of guidance when the school…Continue Reading

Scottish Catholic Church denies supporting ‘mandatory’ LGBT activist school program

GLASGOW, Scotland, August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church in Scotland is flatly denying that it is lending its support to advancing a pro-homosexual curriculum in Catholic schools, despite secular as well as gay news sources claiming the opposite.…Continue Reading

Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms

target

NewsGenderThu Aug 18, 2016 – 2:57 pm EST Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms  #flushtarget , bathroom bills , target , transgender , transgenderism MINNEAPOLIS, August 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Facing…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Signs New Book Deal with Bloomsbury

Indeed, it’s official. Bloomsbury is announcing that Pope Benedict has a new book coming in November 2016, entitled, The Last Testament. It appears to be 224 pages. Ever since Bloomsbury merged (“bought out?”) T & T Clark, they have been…Continue Reading

Transgender Bathroom Access Extended to All Federal Buildings–Including Prisons

The Obama administration is set to unveil a new regulation this week that will expand transgender people’s access to restrooms consistent with their “gender identity” to thousands of federal buildings and facilities across the country — including prisons. Buzzfeed News…Continue Reading

Satanic ‘Black Mass’ held in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — A small group attended an event held by a satanic church in Oklahoma City Monday night. The ‘black mass’ was met with Christian masses and prayer rallies. Leaders of Oklahoma City’s Church of Ahriman set the…Continue Reading

Uplifting Story . . . Gymnast Simone Biles soars to Olympic gold while grounded in Catholic faith

olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When three-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, the 19-year-old carried a rosary her mother gave her and a St. Sebastian medal from…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

For David Daleiden, Soros money shows Planned Parenthood in a panic

Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2016 / 10:55 am (CNA).- A leaked grant report from the Open Societies Foundation seems to show Planned Parenthood and its allies in a panicked effort to raise millions of dollars to counter a series of investigative videos alleging the abortion provider broke the law. For undercover journalist David Daleiden, it’s a sign of hope. “It shows that the issue of selling baby body parts for profit is an issue that…Continue Reading

Meeting Point Sex Ed Program Not Ready for Catholic Schools

The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People (http://www.educazioneaffettiva.org/) is a high school-level sex education program developed by “a group of married couples in Spain,” supported by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference and released online by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in July 2016.  It is intended for use in Catholic high schools, parishes and homes. Although The Cardinal Newman Society does not formally review educational materials, we have taken a…Continue Reading

Why this diocese is ditching Common Core for liberal arts

Marquette, Mich., Aug 24, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Marquette in Michigan says it is already experiencing success in their process of adopting a Catholic liberal arts curriculum for all its schools, rather than using Common Core State Standards. The schools in the diocese previously had no set curriculum. The adoption of a classical curriculum comes at a time when two bills that would repeal and replace the Common Core State

Baton Rouge Establishes Special Flood Victims Fund

By KATHLEEN NAAB The Diocese of Baton Rouge, La., is welcoming assistance as so many thousands of people have lost homes or property and many have been killed in the massive flooding affecting the state. “The historic flooding that has taken place has impacted nearly every corner of our diocese, and our parishes and schools are struggling to recover in an effort to provide for the spiritual and educational needs of their parishioners and students,”…Continue Reading

Catholic Politician Defends Abortion, Says Catholic Church Doesn’t Think Unborn Babies are People

Minnesota state Rep. John Lesch is a Catholic and a politician in the conservative mid-west. He also supports abortions. Lesch, a board member of the pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice, wrote a column for The Hill this week explaining why he supports abortion and why other Catholic politicians should, too. “I came of age in a time when we learned to respect a woman’s conscience-based decisions, and we were more cautious of the institutional church’s…Continue Reading

Government: New 700,000-Word Regulation Is Good For You

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The nine-second video of two federal bureaucrats the White House posted on its blog the past week was notable for something it omitted. That something was very big — and putting it on display might not have fit with the apparent propaganda purpose of the video. The video itself starred EPA…Continue Reading

With Different U.S. Policies… Imagine The Possibilities In Africa

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. He and Brian Clowes, HLI’s director of research and training, recently went on a pro-life mission to Tanzania; see the article on the front page of The Wanderer, August 18, 2016. In the article below, Fr. Boquet thanks all…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… “The Expense Is Reckoned, The Enterprise Is Begun; It Is Of God”

By JAMES MONTI The recent slaughter in odium fidei of the 85-year-old French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel on July 26 shortly after two terrorists stormed into the church where he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a vivid manifestation that the price for being a faithful Catholic has been rapidly escalating of…Continue Reading

Summer 1916 . . . The Second Apparition Of Angel Of Portugal

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The previous article on this topic (April 28, 2016, p. 8A) looked at the first of the three apparitions of the Angel of Portugal, or the Angel of Peace, to the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos, in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1916. This…Continue Reading

ISIS And Other Useful Fictions

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh) and al-Qaeda are useful fictions. “Islamicist” is another ill-used word. Has anyone ever identified the borders of the so-called Islamic State, identified the site of its central government, attributed to it a president, prime minister, cabinet, parliament, or congress, or anything resembling such? Even the most…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Mystagogy Of The Celebration Of Baptism

By DON FIER The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River marked a turning-point in His life. Having lived in a hidden manner in obedience to Mary and Joseph for thirty years (see Luke 2:51), our Lord now began His public ministry by freely submitting to the penitential baptism of St. John the Baptist. Although unblemished by sin and in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Can you possibly provide the name and e-mail address of the bishop of the “renowned” Catholic Vice President Joe Biden? This latest mockery of his faith — officiating at the “marriage” of two men — cries for some type of action from the shepherd of his flock. I would like to be able to communicate my concern to the…Continue Reading

Prepare For Eternal Life

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18b Phmn. 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33 In the first reading the question is asked about who can know God’s counsel or conceive what the Lord intends. We know that God’s ways are not our ways; we know that God looks into the heart while we look at…Continue Reading

Divine Mercy And Justice

By Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke Part 2 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the Consecration Weekend, The Marian Catechist Apostolate, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis., July 23, 2016. Because of its length, we are publishing it in two parts; part 1 appeared in last week’s issue. And also because…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Moral Outrages Mount While Bishops Snooze

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The U.S. bishops’ conference is a leadership disaster. Joe Biden presiding over the marital simulation ceremony of two men who work in the Obama administration was the latest unanswered provocation to assail the American portion of the Body of Christ. Vice President Biden has completely sold-out on Church teaching. He enthusiastically promoted the rainbow revolution…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1605 Fr. Robert De Nobili, a Jesuit priest, arrived in India to evangelize the people. He found them to have a noble bearing and a deeply spiritual life filled with fasting, prayer, and meditation. Difficulties presented themselves to him as he struggled to convert them: “If these people did not see me do such penance, they…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading