Friday 13th December 2019

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Obedience Of Faith

July 19, 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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

If men knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives. Our Lady of Fatima
#Catholic #SaintQuotes

Bishop Strickland . . . Jesus Christ Is God’s Divine Son Incarnate - https://t.co/dAMyTEzXT3

Load More...

Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone resigns after year of scandal

Vatican City, Dec 4, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo’s embattled Bishop Richard Malone. The Diocese of Buffalo will be administered by Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger until a permanent replacement for Malone is…Continue Reading

Chinese bishop says Catholics must put ‘love for homeland’ first

Beijing, China, Dec 3, 2019 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- A Chinese bishop has said that Catholics in the country must put their loyalty to the state before the faith. Bishop John Fang Xingyao made the statement during a Communist Party…Continue Reading

Canada’s largest newspaper: Catholic schools must back LGBT ‘rights’ or risk losing public funding

TORONTO, November 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s largest newspaper threatened Catholic schools in an editorial that unless they get in line with homosexuality and transgender “rights,” support will only grow for an end to their public funding. The Toronto Star’s…Continue Reading

Pope compares politicians who persecute gays, Jews to Hitler

Pope Francis denounced the persecution of gay people on Friday and compared public officials who stoke hatred and anti-gay sentiment to Hitler. Francis delivered his remarks at an international conference on criminal law at the Vatican City, Reuters reported. “It is…Continue Reading

7-year-old whose mom tried to ‘transition’ him chooses to attend school as a boy

DALLAS, Texas, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven-year-old James Younger, whose mother enrolled him in kindergarten as a “girl,” has finally been able to attend school as a boy for the first time. James’ parents’ fight over whether he should…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan on Biden communion denial: ‘I wouldn’t do it’

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2019 / 04:58 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has responded to questions about the denial of Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden last Sunday. On an Oct. 31…Continue Reading

Judge blocks Alabama law banning abortions, pro-lifers plan to appeal to Supreme Court

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alabama’s ban on virtually all abortions will not take effect on November 15 as planned, thanks to a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. In May, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama…Continue Reading

Biden denied communion at South Carolina church over abortion stance, report says

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden was reportedly denied communion by a priest at a South Carolina Catholic church over the weekend. Biden, a lifelong Catholic, stopped by Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence on Sunday, but was denied Holy Communion by Father Robert E. Morey,…Continue Reading

Bishops call out Fr. James Martin for questioning if Bible is right to condemn homosexuality

October 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Fr. James Martin, S.J. is coming under fire from a U.S. bishop and a cardinal after a tweet appearing to question the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. Yesterday afternoon, Fr. Martin posted the following to his…Continue Reading

Pope Francis appoints new head of Vatican security

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2019 / 04:39 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Tuesday appointed the second-in-command of Vatican security to head the City State’s national police force, after the resignation of the former chief Oct. 14. The pope named Oct. 15,…Continue Reading

Ecological ritual performed in Vatican gardens for pope’s tree planting ceremony

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2019 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis witnessed an indigenous performance at a tree planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens Friday, during which people held hands and bowed before carved images of pregnant women, one of…Continue Reading

Young man stuns courtroom by forgiving brother’s murderer, urging her to seek Christ

DALLAS, Texas, October 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In an incredible display of human compassion, a young man whose brother was shot and killed forgave the cop who had been found guilty of his murder. Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Archbishop Paglia says priests can be present at assisted suicide

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said Tuesday that he would be willing to hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see that as lending implicit support for the practice. Paglia spoke at a Dec. 10 press conference preceding a two-day symposium on palliative care, being sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the…Continue Reading

Fulton Sheen beatification postponed

Peoria, Ill., Dec 3, 2019 / 01:10 pm (CNA).- The scheduled beatification of Ven. Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen has been postponed after several U.S. bishops asked that the cause be given more time for examination. The Diocese of Peoria announced the delay on Dec. 3. Archbishop Sheen’s beatification was set to take place on Dec. 21. “With deep regret, Bishop Daniel Jenky, C.S.C, Bishop of Peoria, announces that he has been informed by…Continue Reading

Duluth’s Bishop Paul Sirba dies unexpectedly at 59

Duluth, Minn., Dec 1, 2019 / 12:44 pm (CNA).- Bishop Paul Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota died on Sunday, after suffering a heart attack before offering Mass. He was 59 years old. “It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I must inform you of tragic news regarding our Bishop,” said a Dec. 1 statement from Fr. James B. Bissonette, who had been the diocesan vicar general until the bishop’s death. The office…Continue Reading

Faithful Chinese bishop on the run from communists highlights Vatican/China deal disaster

November 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Vincent Guo was supposed to be the poster child of a successful rapprochement between the Vatican and China, as well as a sign that the longstanding rift between the Underground Catholic church and its state-run counterpart had been healed.  Instead, he is on the run from the Communist authorities.  How did this happen? Until last year, Bishop Guo was the ordinary of the Diocese of Mindong, located in the…Continue Reading

The Pope: not using or possessing nuclear arms will be added to the Catechism

During the in-flight press conference aboard the plane bringing him back to Rome from Japan, Pope Francis answers journalists’ questions on a variety of issues: from the immoral use and possession of atomic weapons, to the financial investigation inside the Vatican. By Vatican News “The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an…Continue Reading

Advertisement3

Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone Resigns After Year Of Scandal

VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Pope Francis on December 4 accepted the resignation of Buffalo’s embattled Bishop Richard Malone. The Diocese of Buffalo will be administered by Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger until a permanent replacement for Malone is appointed. A December 4 communiqué from the U.S. apostolic nunciature said Malone asked Pope Francis for an “early…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Political Correctness And The War On Thanksgiving

  By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly, sometimes bimonthly. He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and Associate Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and President of the…Continue Reading

In Hong Kong, It’s The United States Vs. China Now

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN At first glance, it would appear that five months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had produced a stunning triumph. By September, the proposal of city leader Carrie Lam that ignited the protests — to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China for trial — had been withdrawn. And though…Continue Reading

Duluth’s Bishop Paul Sirba Dies Unexpectedly At 59

By CHRISTINE ROUSSELLE DULUTH, Minn. (CNA) — Bishop Paul Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., died on Sunday, December 1 after suffering a heart attack before offering Mass. He was 59 years old. “It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I must inform you of tragic news regarding our Bishop,” said a December…Continue Reading

Holy See UN Mission . . . Cosponsors Symposium Of The Persecuted

By JOHN J. METZLER UNITED NATIONS — The stunning silence of the mainstream media which often overlooks ongoing anti-religious violence has become a sad barometer of our secular societies. Clearly, while most of the attacks are “somewhere else,” be it the Middle East, Africa, or South Asia, the media template seems preset to default to…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Here Is Your God

Third Sunday In Advent (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10 James 5:7-10 Matt. 11:2-11   In both the first and the second readings an identical point is made. Isaiah is to say to those whose hearts are frightened: “Be strong, fear not. Here is your God.” James tells us: “Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Sheen: A Needed Patron For Bishops

  By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Shock: While McCarrick goes unexamined by leadership and comfortably ensconced in a Kansas friary, some Catholics initially feared that unspecified prelates, in an anonymous attack upon Archbishop Sheen’s reputation, indefinitely stalled his beatification. Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky and his people are now deeply saddened. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, credited with at least one miracle to…Continue Reading

Jesus Christ Is God’s Divine Son Incarnate

By MOST REV. JOSEPH STRICKLAND Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Divine Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God and fully man. And that all power in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Him by the Father. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. And, we have been commissioned by Him to make…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Would you please identify the Church document that places restrictions on where prayer petitions are announced at Mass? — J.M., New York. A. The document is The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which says that the Prayer of the Faithful takes place after the Profession of Faith and before the bringing up of the gifts to begin the…Continue Reading

Prepare Your Heart To Receive The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Advent (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10 Romans 15:4-9 Matt. 3:1-12 In the Gospel reading today, St. John the Baptist calls the people to repentance because “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” This is the same message Jesus preached when He began His public ministry. It is also the same thing we pray…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Charbel

By CAROLE BRESLIN Lebanon is a small country bordering both Syria and Israel on the Mediterranean coast line. It has a great diversity of religions as small as it is. There are Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims—who possess hostile attitudes toward each other. There are also Greek Orthodox and Maronite Christians. They all have a common interest in a man…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Fulton Sheen

By CAROLE BRESLIN Saints do not seek after fame, but sometimes it comes their way anyway, for the edification of the faithful and the world at large. Mother Teresa in her humble and simple way was known around the world and even won the Nobel Peace Prize. And television will certainly catapult a dynamic personality blessed with Irish wit and…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)