Monday 26th September 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Obedience Of Faith

February 7, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

For the past ten weeks of this series, we’ve been unpacking the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on how God comes to meet man through His divine Revelation. As the Catechism, citing Dei Verbum (DV), so beautifully expresses it, “the invisible God, from the fullness of His love, addresses men as His friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into His own company” (CCC, n. 142; DV, n. 2).
Just this one statement is a mystery of our faith that one could meditate on for a lifetime: How is it that the “King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim. 1:17) could so love mankind, sinful and ungrateful as we are, to such a degree as to desire, even thirst, to take us as His friends, to receive us into His own company? How is it that He desires for us to be with Him for all eternity in Heaven? Keeping this unfathomable mystery in mind, we’ll now turn our attention to examining what man’s response to God should be.
The Catechism, in a word, teaches very clearly that “the adequate response to this invitation is faith” (CCC, n. 142). Now, what exactly is meant by faith in this context? Going directly to the word of God, the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1) and later says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please [God]. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Fr. John Hardon, SJ, in his customary clear and candid manner, states just how important our freely given response of faith is. Referring directly to the books of the Bible that are “the heart of all the Scriptures” (CCC, n. 125), he says, “If anything is clear from the Gospels it is the call to a free response of faith in God’s Revelation of Himself in the person of Christ. How otherwise explain that terrifying passage in the closing verses of Mark where the Master states without reservation that ‘he who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:16)” (The Catholic Catechism, p. 32)?
The Catechism further teaches that “by faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God. . . . Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God . . . ‘the obedience of faith’” (CCC, n. 143). Dei Verbum, citing the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius (DF) from Vatican Council I, expands on this: “‘The obedience of faith’…is to be given to God Who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God Who reveals’ (DF, chapter 3), and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him. To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving ‘joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it’ (DF, chapter 3)” (DV, n. 5).
Two central points of what we believe as Catholics have been highlighted in the above citation: 1) our commitment of self and assent to God’s truth must be given freely, and 2) it is only through God’s grace and the assistance of the Holy Spirit that this is possible. In other words, man must exercise his free will and unconditionally choose to respond to the gift of God’s love — to return His love — and to give his intellectual assent to all that God has revealed. However, since our natures are fallen, it is only through God’s manifold grace and the ongoing assistance of the Holy Spirit that this is possible.
As Douglas Bushman, STL, expresses it in The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II, “The text [of Dei Verbum] stresses that the response of faith must be freely given. This is made possible by the grace of the Holy Spirit Who moves the heart and turns it to God” (p. 405).
It was St. Paul who identified faith as a form of obedience. In his Letter to the Romans, he uses the precise expression “the obedience of faith” on two occasions (see Romans 1:5 and 16:26). What is the link, then, between faith and obedience? The word “obey” comes from the Latin ob-audire which means “to listen to.” When we obey in faith, we “submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, Who is Truth itself” (CCC, n. 144).
In an article entitled “Obedience to the Magisterium and the Responsibility of the Bishop Toward the Laity” (http://mariancatechist.com/burke/obedience_responsibility.html), Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke expounds on this by teaching: “When we obey [in faith], we listen attentively to the Word of Christ handed on to us in the Church, we believe what we hear, and we put what we believe into practice.” In other words, it is not enough simply to hear God’s word or even to believe what we have heard — we must take it to heart so decisively and firmly that it becomes who we are and how we live our lives.
As a model of the obedience of faith, the Catechism offers to us the Old Testament patriarch Abraham as “the father of all who believe.” Fr. Hardon summarizes the Catechism’s teaching on how Abraham is our father in faith by listing the following three reasons: 1) he was chosen to be the ancestor of all believers on account of his faith; 2) he fulfilled the definition of faith in the New Testament in Heb. 11:1 (as quoted earlier in the column); and 3) his faith is a prelude of what our greater faith should be, “believing in Jesus, the Son of God” (see The Faith, p. 35). St. Paul writes, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Romans 1:4), and in a parallel Old Testament passage we find similar words: “[Abraham] believed the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).
Let’s consider just one example from Sacred Scripture of the depth of Abraham’s obedience of faith. He was promised by God that he would be the “father of a multitude of nations” (Gen. 17:5). Yet it was not until he was far advanced in years that “Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age” (Gen. 21:2). He “was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him” (Gen. 21:5). Now fast-forward a few years to the account of the sacrifice of Isaac in Gen. 22. Abraham, in obedience of faith, was but an instant from plunging a knife into his dearly beloved son Isaac in sacrifice to God when the angel of the Lord stayed his hand. What incredible faith Abraham possessed in not withholding his only son! Is it any wonder that he is referred to as the father of all who believe, and that he is a model for us?
Just as Abraham is the model of “the obedience of faith” offered to us by Sacred Scripture, the Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment (cf. CCC, n. 144). “By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that ‘with God nothing will be impossible’ and so giving her assent: ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word’ (Luke 1:37-38)” (CCC, n. 148). Mary’s response perfectly expressed the disposition of complete and unconditional obedience — she is the model for what our response should be to God’s will in our daily lives. Her faith never wavered, and for this reason “the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith” (CCC, n. 149).
To close this installment, I invite you to reflect on an inspiring excerpt from Fr. Michael Gaitley’s recently published book 33 Days to Morning Glory: “She [Mary] is perfectly united to the Holy Spirit, because she was conceived without sin, never sinned, and always does the will of God perfectly. She allows the Holy Spirit to overshadow her, take possession of her soul, and bear fruit through her. The Holy Spirit delights in always working in and through Mary to save all other creatures made in God’s image” (p. 110).

+    +    +

(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.

Donald Trump Names Rick Santorum and Other Top Pro-Life Catholics as Key Advisers

Fresh from announcing a list of pro-life leaders who are advising him on issues that matter to pro-life voters, Donald Trump has named a group of pro-life Catholic leaders as additional key advisers, including pro-life former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.…Continue Reading

Argentine bishop threatened with prosecution for condemning ‘culture of fornication’

September 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic archbishop of the Argentinean city of La Plata is under investigation by the country’s “discrimination” police for condemning the modern acceptance of sexual promiscuity and “unnatural” unions, according to local media sources. Archbishop…Continue Reading

First minor killed by euthanasia in Belgium after child euthanasia legalized

BELGIUM, September 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission confirmed Saturday the country’s first instance of child euthanasia, which became legal in 2014. Belgian media suggested the minor killed via lethal injection was 17. Some media also suggested the…Continue Reading

Donald Trump commits to defunding abortion, Planned Parenthood if elected

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump has pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion in the United States and to defund the nation’s leading abortion provider. In a new, personally signed letter, Mr. Trump attacked “Hillary Clinton’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis issues motu proprio harmonizing Canon Law codes

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another…Continue Reading

Another “Catholic” Politician trying to redefine the Catholic Faith . . . Devout Catholic™ Kaine breaks with his church on gay marriage, with media blessing

Tim Kaine has officially joined the ranks of Devout Catholic™. How do we know? Because he says he’s Catholic, yet criticizes the church. The Democratic vice presidential nominee played weekend prophet and theologian when he told activists in the Human…Continue Reading

Bishop Morlino’s Move to Ad Orientem Masses in Madison

This past weekend the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin made an announcement of great liturgical importance. Going forward His Excellency will be offering all of his Masses at the Cathedral ad orientem. Make no…Continue Reading

Longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly dead at 92

phillis

Phyllis Schlafly, the iconic pro-family activist who rose to fame in the 1970s when she campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment, has died at age 92, according to the Eagle Forum, the conservative organization she founded. Schlafly had been an…Continue Reading

Soros’ Catholic useful idiots

By Robert A. Sirico – – Tuesday, August 30, 2016 A most remarkable set of documents was coughed up recently by WikiLeaks. George Soros‘ Open Society Policy Center, it turns out, made donations to two faith-based organizations to the tune…Continue Reading

Pope Francis “gratified” by UN goals that demand “universal access to sexual and reproductive health”

Pope Francis has said that he is “gratified” by UN goals that call on member states to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health” by 2030. The term “sexual and reproductive health”, as generally defined, includes access to contraception, including abortifacient methods, and,…Continue Reading

Psychiatrist: The Vatican’s sex ed is the most dangerous threat to youth I’ve seen in 40 years

September 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In recent years, the Catholic Church has been going through one of her most severe crises as a result of the priestly abuse of youth. The primary victims have been adolescent males.1  This worldwide scandal was…Continue Reading

Catholics protest at Tim Kaine’s parish: If priest won’t ‘instruct parishioners’ on Church teaching, we will

RICHMOND, Virginia, August 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Roughly a dozen pro-life activists protested Sunday outside of pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine’s Catholic parish. “Sen. Kaine has failed in his duty as a Catholic public servant to…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 . . .

">We May Not Have A Church To Go To . . .

Paul Likoudis (RIP)

Sad news today, we received word that Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer news editor from 1990 to 2014 has died. He lost his battle with colon cancer yesterday, which he had been fighting for over three years. Please pray for the repose of his soul. (The Wanderer will have much more in the days to come).  

500 Catholic scholars lash back at Humanae Vitae critics

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2016 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nearly 50 years after the “prophetic” papal document Humanae Vitae, the Catholic Church’s longstanding teaching against contraception continues to promote the human good, said a group of Catholic thinkers on Tuesday. “We hold that Catholic teaching respects the true dignity of the human person and is conducive to happiness,” said hundreds of Catholic scholars in a Sept. 20 document. “Humanae Vitae speaks against the distorted…Continue Reading

“Catholic” Tim Kaine: “I Believe Women Should Be Able to” Have an Abortion

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Democratic Vice Presidential pick Tim Kaine, attempted to make his pitch to Millennials by saying that they agree with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform on the big issues. One of the big issues is obviously abortion. Part of what he said was: “Do you believe women should be able to make their own health care decisions, or don’t you? Millennials do, Hillary Clinton and I do, Donald Trump doesn’t.”…Continue Reading

Pope visits neonatal unit, hospice to highlight respect for life

Vatican City, Sep 16, 2016 / 11:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, Pope Francis visited a neonatal hospital unit and a hospice for the terminally ill, stressing the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Sept. 16 visit is the latest in the Pope’s “Mercy Friday” initiatives, to spend time with various groups each month during the Jubilee of Mercy. In previous trips, he has made surprise stops at places including an…Continue Reading

Sex On The Brain

By DONALD DeMARCO The late Malcolm Muggeridge, who, in his later years, had some sensible things to say about human sexuality, lamented that people “have sex on the brain, and that’s an unhealthy place for it to be.” What he meant by this remark was based on his observation that sex, which is a natural…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… The Bridge Between Abortion And Euthanasia

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 1 (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, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Speaking at a conference of the Hemlock Society — an organization whose primary…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… At The Hour Of Our Death

By JAMES MONTI The onset of autumn has deeper lessons to offer than merely the return of students to their classrooms for another semester of studies. Our Lord Himself told us to derive spiritual instruction from even the change of seasons when He compared the budding of leaves on the fig tree that presage summer…Continue Reading

Last Chance For The “Deplorables”

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Speaking to 1,000 of the overprivileged at an LGBT fundraiser, where the chairs ponied up $250,000 each and Barbra Streisand sang, Hillary Clinton gave New York’s social liberals what they came to hear. “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” smirked Clinton…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Limitless Wisdom Of The Parables

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ and What They Mean for You, by Fr. George Rutler (Sophia Institute Press: Manchester, NH, 2014), 151 pp.; $14.95. Available through www.SophiaInstitute.com or 1-800-888-9344. A collection of short meditations on the 24 parables that appear in the Gospel, this book relates these stories to the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

What Is Faith?… Is Faith Necessary For Salvation?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM For most of us who are cradle Catholics, it is not difficult to believe, since we received the theological virtue of faith in Baptism and grew up with it. Our parents and/or teachers taught us all about the Bible stories, the catechism, the sacraments. We learned to pray the Creed from an early age, and…Continue Reading

The Necessity Of Baptism

By DON FIER The Church’s immemorial tradition of baptizing infants demonstrates in a particular way one of the great truths of our Catholic faith — that every human person is in need of salvation. Born into this world afflicted with original sin, “a sin which is the death of the soul” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 403), even…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent question about how much money the U.S. bishops get from the federal government, an article in LifeSiteNews reported that the Obama Administration is pouring hundreds of million of dollars into Catholic institutions and charities. “We’ve got the most virulently anti-life administration in the history of the United States,” said international child rights advocate…Continue Reading

If It Delays, Wait For It

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Hab. 1:2-3, 2:2-4 2 Tim. 1:6-8, 13-14 Luke 17:5-10 I have commented many times before on the last lines of the Gospel reading today where our Lord tells us to say: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” Tragically, I wish that…Continue Reading

The Role Of The Sacred Liturgy In Developing A Catholic Conscience

By FRANCIS CARDINAL ARINZE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered this lecture at The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Ky., July 16, 2016. (The lecture is reprinted here with permission; all rights reserved. We are presenting it in two parts because of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Bernardina Maria Jablonska

By CAROLE BRESLIN Some people look back on their lives and see how differently things turned out from what they had planned. A professor once told his business students that very few students work in the field they studied in college. If someone had told the young Bernardina Maria Jablonska that she would be the superior of a religious order…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Aubert

By CAROLE BRESLIN Near the west coast of France just below England lies the See of Avranches. If you take a drive around the waterways for about 24 miles, you will arrive at one of the world’s most famous pilgrimages, another World Heritage Site — one of 41 in France. This place, Mont Saint-Michel, is dedicated to St. Michael the…Continue Reading