Saturday 28th May 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Characteristics Of Faith

February 14, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Faith, or the obedience of faith, was characterized in last week’s installment on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as man’s most fitting and proper response to God’s self-revelation. Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, concisely defines this assent to all God has revealed as “the free submission to God’s Word because its truth is guaranteed by God, Who is Truth itself” (The Faith, p. 35). Our previous column appropriately closed with a brief reflection on the human person whom the Church sets before us as the “most perfect embodiment” (CCC, n. 144) of the obedience of faith — the Blessed Virgin Mary. Is it possible to conceive of a more apt expression to describe “our mother in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62)? For, “throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her Son died on the Cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith” (CCC, n. 149).
Before embarking on the primary topic of this column, the characteristics of faith, it would be good to briefly consider an unwavering teaching of the Catholic Church: “It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what He says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature” (CCC, n. 150).
For, as Sacred Scripture bluntly and unabashedly tells us, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).
True though it may be that virtuous, trustworthy, and faith-filled friends constitute a great blessing during our sojourn on this earth, it is only God in whom we can place our complete and unreserved faith. Frail, broken vessels that we humans are, even the most reliable of friends can fail us and fall by the wayside in the face of great pressure or persecution. Furthermore, “it is possible for all human witnesses to be mistaken about some fact — as, for instance, scholars may have once thought that the world was flat. . . . But God cannot be mistaken, He cannot deceive; He is infinite Wisdom and infinite Truth” (Leo J. Trese, The Faith Explained, pp. 127-128). Indeed, it is for this reason that “the Church never ceases to proclaim her faith in one only God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (CCC, n. 152).
Now, what are the characteristics of the theological virtue of faith? First, and perhaps most important, “faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by Him” (CCC, n. 153). The Catechism points out that even St. Peter, the first Vicar of Christ who joyfully accepted martyrdom for his faith, was able to profess his belief in Jesus as the Son of the living God only through the gift of God’s grace: “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in Heaven” (Matt. 16:17). And St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and also a martyr for the faith, admitted the same truth: “He Who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1:15-16). As such, “believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit” (CCC, n. 153).
At the same time, it is also completely accurate to say that believing is an authentically human act, and it is in no way contrary to human freedom or reason (cf. CCC, n. 153). As was touched upon last week and more clearly stated in the Vatican Council II document Dignitatis Humanae (DH): “It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man’s response to God in faith must be free: No one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will. . . . [Man] cannot give his adherence to God revealing Himself unless, under the drawing of the Father, he offers to God the reasonable and free submission of faith” (DH, n. 10). St. Thomas Aquinas teaches in his Summa Theologiae (STh) that “believing is an act of the intellect assenting [freely] to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace” (STh, II-II, q. 2, art. 9). Therefore, when submitting in faith, man’s natural faculties of “human intellect and will cooperate with God’s divine grace” (CCC, n. 155).
Moving now to consider faith as it relates to understanding, it is a well-known principle that faith is above, but never contrary to, reason. At the same time, however, “what moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason” (CCC, n. 156).
In fact, many truths of our faith far surpass what our finite, limited human minds can grasp. As Dei Filius (DF) teaches: “The divine mysteries, by their very nature, so far surpass the created understanding that, even when a revelation has been given and accepted by faith, they remain covered by the veil of that same faith and wrapped, as it were, in a certain obscurity, as long as in this mortal life we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight” (DF, chapter 3, n. 4). The reason for our firm belief in the sublime, incomprehensible mysteries of our faith as revealed by God, then, is “because of the authority of God Himself, Who makes the Revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived” (DF, chapter 3, n. 2).
Yet, in His infinite goodness, God has performed and continues to perform many verifiable miracles that testify to the veracity of His Revelation. Referred to as “motives of credibility,” these wondrous realities are “the rational grounds for accepting divine Revelation . . . evidence from reason that God exists” (Fr. John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 364). The Catechism puts forth just a brief sampling of the countless motives of credibility on which we can base our acceptance of all God has revealed: “The miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability” (CCC, n. 156).
As Sacred Scripture attests, God “bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His own will” (Heb. 2:4). We can thus be certain that “the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind’ (DF, chapter 3, n. 6)” (CCC, n. 156).

Difficulties Vs. Doubts

The Catechism goes on to tell us that faith in God’s Revelation is certain, more certain than any and all human knowledge, because of its Source (cf. CCC, n. 156). Here, we might do well to reflect on a famous quotation by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” We are called to think about and ponder the truths of our faith. In fact, in his treatise entitled On the Predestination of the Saints, St. Augustine says, “To believe is to think with assent.”
Individuals who have not experienced difficulties when they contemplate the lofty mysteries revealed by God and His Church probably haven’t really taken their faith seriously. Struggling to wrap one’s mind around seemingly obscure mysteries of the Catholic faith will be normal fare for us in this present life. However, the proper disposition is to accept what God has revealed and to seek to understand. In other words, we are called to humbly submit to what is beyond our ability to understand and ask, “How can this be so?” Even the Blessed Virgin Mary inquired, “How shall this be?” (Luke 1:34) when she was told she was to be the Mother of our Redeemer, though she was vowed to virginity.
This is a far different attitude than entertaining doubt and saying, “No, this doesn’t make sense to me and I will not accept it.” Far better for us to join the father in St. Mark’s Gospel whose son was possessed by an unclean spirit and say, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

+    +    +

(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.

34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion

A new four-minute viral video is causing over a third — 34 percent — of “pro-choice” women surveyed to view abortion “less favorably.” And 28 percent of pro-choice women who watched the video stated there should be more restrictions on…Continue Reading

‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced legislation calling for President Barack Obama to be impeached because of his administration’s support for transgender bathrooms. Another bill calls for a declaration of emergency in the state. In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution…Continue Reading

Oklahoma legislature passes bill making it a felony to perform abortions

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill Thursday that would make performing abortions a felony and revoke the medical licenses of most physicians who assist in such procedures. This sweeping measure, which opponents described as unconstitutional and unprecedented, now heads to…Continue Reading

Unanimous Win for Little Sisters of the Poor at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government cannot fine the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Supreme Court vacated the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters, accepting the government’s admission that it could meet…Continue Reading

Conservatives outraged over Obama transgender directive to public schools

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school provide transgender access — or face the loss of federal funds — drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, with one public official blasting it as presidential “blackmail.” The administration’s directive…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Leaders Decry Scandals, Urge Catholic Colleges to Reject Culture of Death

Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm…Continue Reading

ACLU launches campaign to strip Catholic hospitals of federal funds

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic hospitals across the U.S. are “withholding emergency care” and denying “essential health services,” the ACLU is alleging in a new campaign. They also inflict harm on “transgender and gender-non-conforming patients” “when seeking…Continue Reading

Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis

Every day, it seems, the United States is becoming a more hostile environment for people with pro-life and conservative positions. Abortion activists constantly challenge pro-life laws, stall abortion industry investigations, force religious objectors to pay for abortions and attack life-affirming…Continue Reading

Obama plans new push for transgender rights in schools

The divisive and politically combustible issue of bathroom access for transgender individuals is about to become further inflamed, as the Obama administration is expected in coming weeks to aggressively reinforce its position that transgender student rights are fully protected under…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…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 . . .

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .      

Today . . .

Planned Parenthood sponsors bill to make it illegal to record and post undercover footage

A bill making its way through the California State Assembly, sponsored by Planned Parenthood, seeks to make it a crime to publish conversations with certain health care providers, notably those associated with abortion facilities. California has already squashed the rights of pro-life pregnancy centers, demanding they offer abortion as an option to their clients, despite their pro-life mission. Now, Planned Parenthood and CA Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez think it’s a fine idea to prosecute someone from posting a “photo…Continue Reading

South Carolina governor signs ban on abortion for babies who feel pain

CHARLESTON, May 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – South Carolina has joined 13 other states that forbid abortions to be performed on unborn children capable of feeling pain. As expected, Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Wednesday. The law restricts abortion to the first 19 weeks of pregnancy. “South Carolina took a courageous stand to protect women’s health and safety in limiting abortion at a point at which the risks…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Perseverance in prayer needed, but not “magic wand”

pope908

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said “prayer is not a magic wand.” He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope was discussing the Parable of the Unjust Judge – also known as the Parable of the Persistent Widow – from the Gospel of Luke. In the parable, the persistence of a widow forces the unjust judge to grant her request for justice, “so that she will not eventually…Continue Reading

Catholic College Presidents Hopeful for Resolution in HHS Mandate Challenge

The presidents of two Catholic colleges involved in the U.S.Supreme Court challenges to the HHS mandate applauded the Court’s recent decision to vacate all lower court rulings and expressed their hope that a positive resolution for religious freedom would soon be reached. “I am pleased that Supreme Court has offered us a way forward which doesn’t require us to participate in the provision of the services which

Pope Francis: Christians live God’s love with joy, astonishment

(Vatican Radio) No Christian can exist without joy: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse. The Pope stressed that even through life’s difficulties, the Christian knows he can trust in Jesus and find hope. The Pope also reminded the faithful they should not allow riches to dominate their lives because they ultimately lead to sadness. Christians live in joy and amazement because…Continue Reading

Rocky Homilies

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER (Editor’s Note: Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., serves at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro, N.C.) + + + The Holy Father’s admonition in Amoris Laetitia that priests must understand that the moral law should not be thrown at people as if it were so many stones (n.…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… A Procession To The Ends Of The Earth

By JAMES MONTI Several weeks ago, after attending the Easter Vigil at a nearby seminary, and the emptied chapel had fallen silent, I began to hear the sound of the sacring bell being rung in the sacristy. Puzzled by this, I wondered whether the seminarians were perhaps trying to repair the bell. But then from…Continue Reading

Is Scarborough Shoal Worth A War?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN If China begins to reclaim and militarize Scarborough Shoal, says Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III, America must fight. Should we back down, says Aquino, the United States will lose “its moral ascendancy, and also the confidence of one of its allies.” And what is Scarborough Shoal? A cluster of rocks…Continue Reading

Cicero In An Election Year

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY In the midst of the turmoil that characterized the mid-decades of the last century, the English jurist Sir Patrick Devlin wrote, “If a society’s laws are based on a particular worldview and that worldview collapses, the laws themselves will crumble.” His 1965 book, The Enforcement of Morals, is still worth reading…Continue Reading

Eastern Orthodoxy And The Particular Judgment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS In previous articles (The Wanderer, July 3, 2014; June 25, 2015), it was observed that: “Perhaps to the surprise of some Catholic ecumenists, Catholic doctrine regarding the Particular Judgment remains obscure, confused, or even denied among the Eastern Orthodox. They have no clear official teaching that the just go to Heaven immediately…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Church’s Liturgy — Who Celebrates?

By DON FIER There is an ancient Latin saying in the Church that eloquently expresses what her members believe of the efficacy of the sacraments and their relationship to faith: lex orandi, lex credendi (“the law of prayer is the law of faith”). Each of the seven sacraments, as we saw last week, can be classified in various categories. Yet…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. My husband and I are wondering when to say the “Amen” after the Lord’s prayer is prayed during Mass. I believe “Amen” should be said after we say “deliver us from evil.” — J.W., Georgia. A. Although it is correct to say “Amen” at the end of the Our Father while saying it outside of Mass, for example, while…Continue Reading

God’s Prophet

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Kings 17:17-24 Gal. 1:11-14a, 15a, c, 16a, 17, 19 Luke 7:11-17 In the first reading today we hear about the death of the son of a widow with whom the Prophet Elijah stayed when he was passing through that region. The woman had been very good to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Mueller Reminds The Church Of Her Marriage Doctrine

By MAIKE HICKSON Part 2 (Editor’s Note: We are publishing this commentary from Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as reported by Maike Hickson, in two parts. The first part appeared in last week’s issue. (OnePeterFive graciously gave The Wanderer reprint permission for this article. All rights reserved. See: www.onepeterfive.com/cardinal-muller-reminds-church-marriage-doctrine/. (Dr. Hickson, born…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Spiritual Exercises

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The way the human body physically works can teach us something about virtue and the way God’s grace works spiritually for each of us: We must use it to grow it. As I reminded our Life Teens and their families at Mass recently, if they slack off on physical exercise during the summer, come fall…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By CAROLE BRESLIN A Celtic cross erected in 1884 marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where St. Augustine of Canterbury is said to have landed in 597. While some form of Christianity in England may be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation, it did not become a strong presence until the arrival of St. Augustine,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Crispin Of Viterbo

By CAROLE BRESLIN In March 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vine (Oak) located in Tuscany, Italy, to proclaim our Lady patroness of the Diocese of Viterbo. The tradition of visiting the image of Our Lady of the Oak began 600 years ago in 1417 when Mastro Baptist Magnano Iuzzante commissioned an image…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading