Tuesday 21st May 2019

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Theological Virtues — Faith

December 8, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

As we transitioned last week from a lengthy treatment of the four cardinal virtues (and a brief overview of sanctifying grace) to the theological virtues, emphasis was given to the fittingness of the term “theological” (as derived from the Greek Theos and logos), for these virtues have God Himself as their Author, motive, and direct object.
“Infused with sanctifying grace, they bestow on one the capacity to live in a relationship with the Trinity,” explains the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “They are the foundation and the energizing force of the Christian’s moral activity and they give life to the human virtues. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being” (n. 384).
Fr. Francis Spirago, in a comprehensive volume entitled The Catechism Explained (TCE) which was originally published in 1899, symbolizes the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity with a flame: “Faith is signified by the light it emits, hope by its upward tendency, and charity by the heat it radiates.”
He goes on to suggest that a tree is also emblematic of the theological virtues: “Faith is its root, hope its stem, charity its fruit.”
A third analogy Fr. Spirago proposes is the construction of a temple: “Faith lays the foundation of the temple of God, hope raises the walls, and charity crowns the structure” (TCE, p. 442).
Their underlying importance cannot be overstated, for as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) affirms, they make the faithful “capable of acting as [God’s] children and of meriting eternal life” (n. 1813).
The Catechism now examines each of the theological virtues, beginning with faith, which it defines as “the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself” (CCC, n. 1814).
Vatican Council I defined faith as “a supernatural virtue whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that what he has revealed is true, not because the intrinsic truth of things is recognized by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither err nor deceive” (Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, n. 3008).
In Sacred Scripture, faith is defined as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1); its fundamental importance is emphasized a few verses later with the inspired declaration: “Without faith, it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb. 11:7).
It would be helpful to look at the nature of faith in general in order to understand supernatural faith. As defined by Dr. Lawrence Feingold, STD, a general definition for faith is “the assent of the mind to truths, not motivated by their intrinsic evidence, but motivated rather by a firm impulse of the will, based on the testimony of a witness” (Course Notes for Fundamental Moral Theology [FMT], December 2009, p. 136).
In other words, it is not possible to speak of faith unless two elements are present: (1) the object of faith must be unseen, and (2) there must be an act of belief by the mind characterized by firmness. How is this firmness of mind justified? It is motivated by the authority of a witness whom one perceives to be worthy of trust.
If we think about it, we make many acts of human faith each day of our lives. For example, it is an act of human faith to know the identity of one’s parents; it is by human faith in teachers and textbooks that we learn. Even though a person has not personally visited a city in a foreign land and viewed its attractions, he believes in their existence based on the testimony of a trusted friend who has been there.
Countless examples can be given of acts of human faith where one gives firm assent of mind to things because of the trustworthiness of those who communicate them — indeed, societies could not function without continuous acts of human faith by its members.
The theological virtue of faith is distinguished from human faith on account of the authority of the witness in whom we believe. Since divine Revelation rests directly on the omniscience of God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, the certainty of divine faith infinitely exceeds that of human faith. “The great difficulty, however, is to determine where God has spoken” (FMT, p. 137).
In other words, before a man believes, he must inquire whether what he is asked to believe was really revealed by God. This inquiry is a duty, for God exacts of us a reasonable service (cf. Romans 12:1), and warns us that “one who trusts others too quickly is lightminded” (Sirach 19:4) (cf. TCE, p. 88). This is precisely where “motives of credibility” enter into the picture, a topic that was examined earlier in this series (see volume 145, n. 31; August 2, 2012).
As a quick refresher, let us recall that the Catechism, in its exposition on “The Profession of Faith,” provides a brief sampling of the countless motives of credibility on which we can base our firm assent to all that 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).
Our Lord Himself appealed to the importance of the miracles He wrought: “Even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand” (John 10:38). Moreover, despite the fact the many tenets of faith are mysteries that surpass the finite ability of our intellect to understand (e.g., Most Holy Trinity, Incarnation, etc.), they are never contrary to reason. Through the motives of credibility, then, our Lord has powerfully demonstrated His veracity.
The Catechism refers to an insightful paragraph in the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council: “By faith ‘man freely commits his entire self to God’ (Dei Verbum [DV], n. 5)” (CCC, n. 1814).
To be precise, it is stated in the conciliar constitution that an “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, and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him” (DV, n. 5).
How are we to understand this definition of faith?
The “obedience of faith” is an act of obedience by which one commits his whole self freely to God, with God’s aid. It is a gift of the mind to God, offering one’s full submission of intellect and will to God’s Revelation because He has revealed it. It is embracing the entire Deposit of Faith because of the authority of the Revealer, and not because it seems reasonable to us or because we prefer it. It wouldn’t be a gift of self if we retained the power of private judgment to pick and choose what appeals to us (i.e., cafeteria Catholicism). It is only a gift of self to God if we truly give ourselves in such a way that we believe whatever He says, whether it conforms to our understanding or not.
Man has free will — the act of faith or “obedience of faith” is thus a free interior act that we give whenever we see God has spoken. Although we’re free in the sense that we can say no, we are not morally free to say no to God who reveals because He is Truth itself.
Closely connected to “obedience of faith” is a principle formulated by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman in his great work An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, which he wrote during the process of his conversion to Catholicism. Developed at a time when religious liberalism was rampant (which Newman perceived as a great danger to the future of Christianity), his “dogmatic principle” taught that “the act of supernatural faith requires articles of faith or dogmas to which we are obliged to consent because of God’s authority” (FMT, p. 145).
The connection between the “dogmatic principle” and the “obedience of faith” is clear. It is a necessary foundation for divine faith and precludes our power of choice — private judgment (or cafeteria Catholicism) goes against the “dogmatic principle” and thus makes the “obedience of faith” impossible.
If one personally reserves the right of judgment about matters of faith, it is not submission of mind and will to God. It is by adherence to the “dogmatic principle” that one is enabled to realize true liberty, true freedom. Any departure from the Deposit of Faith as it has come down to us through the mediation of Christ, the apostles, and the Church founded on the apostles and the Apostolic Tradition is not true development but corruption of the faith.

Corruption, Not Development

In an outstanding online article in First Things magazine entitled “Development, or Corruption?” former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Gerhard Cardinal Mueller shows how Newman’s dogmatic principle, properly applied, “prevents us from speaking of a ‘paradigm shift’ regarding the form of the Church’s being and of her presence in the world” (see www.firstthings.com, February 20, 2018).
His Eminence states that “a paradigm shift, by which the Church takes on the criteria of modern society to be assimilated by it, constitutes not a development, but a corruption.”
True development in doctrine “means a growth in the understanding of spiritual and theological realities, guided by the Holy Spirit (cf. DV, n. 8).”

+ + +

(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 a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

If it is any reassurance to the "good" nun. Satan agrees with you 100 percent!

Load More...

Fox News religion contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris asks Pope to be released from priestly vows

May 17, 2019, LifeSiteNews — Fox News contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris announced today that he is seeking permission from Pope Francis to be released from his priestly vows so that he can one day be able to “marry and have a family.”…Continue Reading

DC Catholic school will acknowledge LGBT alumnae couples

WASHINGTON – A 220-year-old Catholic girls’ school in Washington, D.C., will now allow news about same-sex unions in its alumnae magazine. News outlets report the president emerita of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Sister Mary Berchmans, announced the change this month. She…Continue Reading

DC Catholic school will acknowledge LGBT alumnae couples

WASHINGTON — A 220-year-old Catholic girls’ school in Washington, D.C., will now allow news about same-sex unions in its alumnae magazine. News outlets report the president emerita of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Sister Mary Berchmans, announced the change this month.…Continue Reading

Hundreds of pro-lifers rally in Philadelphia to call out Democrat ‘bully’ Brian Sims

PHILADELPHIA, May 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A lineup of leading pro-life advocates gathered in Philadelphia Friday morning outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility where State Rep. Brian Sims filmed himself berating peaceful pro-life activists, including teen girls. Over the…Continue Reading

Vatican issues norms for reports of abuse of minors, seminarians, and religious

Vatican City, May 9, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- New Vatican norms for the Church’s handling of sex abuse, issued Thursday, place seminarians and religious coerced into sexual activity through the misuse of authority in the same criminal category as…Continue Reading

Civil appeals court dismisses legal challenge, says Sheen’s body can go to Peoria

Albany, N.Y., May 6, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The New York Court of Appeals has dismissed an appeal of an earlier judgement allowing Venerable Fulton Sheen’s remains to be moved to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria, in…Continue Reading

U.S. hospital set to euthanize elderly woman who says on video ‘I want to live’

May 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A 64-year-old woman with lung cancer is allegedly at risk of being euthanized by a Minnesota hospital, despite having stated emphatically from her hospital bed in a video that is now going viral that she…Continue Reading

Federal judge issues nationwide block on Trump rule cutting $60 million from Planned Parenthood

April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction Thursday against the Trump administration’s rule that threatens to cut a tenth of Planned Parenthood’s federal tax funding by disqualifying abortion groups from family-planning funds. In February, the…Continue Reading

Bishop Donald J. Hying appointed to lead Madison diocese

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2019 / 04:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Thursday appointed Donald J. Hying the next bishop of Madison, Wis., following the death of Bishop Robert C. Morlino in November. Hying, 55, has been the bishop of Gary,…Continue Reading

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has died at the age of 91

Fr. James V. Schall, the prolific and much-beloved Jesuit, professor and author, died earlier today. His family states that “he was comfortable and at peace” at the time of his death. He was born in Pocahontas, Iowa, January 20, 1928.…Continue Reading

North Carolina Gov. vetoes bill requiring care for babies born alive after failed abortion

RALEIGH, April 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation Thursday morning that would require abortionists to provide basic medical care to newborns who survive failed abortions, just days after the measure cleared the state legislature.…Continue Reading

How Cardinal Wuerl Misled the Papal Foundation

In 2017, Cardinal Donald Wuerl provided false and misleading information to the board of the Papal Foundation to secure a $25 million grant for the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a scandal-plagued hospital in Rome. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…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 . . .

US bishops oppose Trump immigration plan, say families are foundational

Washington D.C., May 19, 2019 / 03:09 am (CNA).- Leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference voiced concern over President Donald Trump’s new immigration plan, stressing that families should be strengthened and promoted in the immigration system. “We oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely ‘merit-based’ immigration system,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, who heads…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke leads thousands in 9th annual Rome March for Life

ROME, Italy, May 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Thousands of joy-filled pro-lifers young and old from across the world took part in the Rome March for Life today beneath a sunny sky and behind Catholic Cardinal Raymond Burke, who lead the prayerful, song-filled demonstration through the busy streets of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk was also present at the event’s outset.

House passes sweeping legislation to expand LGBTQ civil rights but GOP lawmakers worry it may threaten the rights of women

A Republican-backed motion to block the Equality Act, which would provide civil rights protections to gay and transgender people, failed on Friday as the House of Representatives voted to approve the bill, 236 to 173. The bill had the support of every Democrat in the House, along with eight Republicans. If it also passes in the Senate, President Trump is expected to veto the measure when it reaches his desk. The new anti-discrimination leg

Dominican scholar: Church crisis calls for renewal of Catholic teaching on freedom

Vatican City, May 9, 2019 / 10:57 am (CNA).- According to a Dominican scholar, the crisis of priestly fidelity is connected to a new cultural conception of human freedom – and the solution will require re-embracing the Church’s view of freedom as something which points to God. Fr. Thomas White, OP, is a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (“The Angelicum”) in Rome and is the director of the university’s…Continue Reading

Bishop Olmsted sees ‘renewal’ in priestly formation, despite scandal

Phoenix, Ariz., May 10, 2019 / 12:08 am (CNA).- Despite the scandals of clerical sexual abuse that the Catholic Church has suffered in past decades, the Church in the United States has also enjoyed a “renewal” in priestly formation, says Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona. In a monthly series of columns, Olmsted has been considering various aspects of the Church scandal, as well as ways to move forward in purification. “Having addressed some of…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Pro-Infanticide Governor Called A Moderate

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented May 15 on how the media are covering a supporter of infanticide.) + + + Infanticide is the deliberate killing of infants, either by active or passive measures. In Nazi Germany, they preferred the former; in this country, we prefer the latter. New York…Continue Reading

Tariffs: The Taxes That Made America Great

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN As his limo carried him to work at the White House May 13, Larry Kudlow could not have been pleased with the headline in The Washington Post: “Kudlow Contradicts Trump on Tariffs.” The story began: “National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow acknowledged Sunday that American consumers end up paying for the…Continue Reading

The Primacy Of The Spiritual

By DONALD DeMARCO I was visiting an elderly lady whose refrigerator had broken down. She pointed sadly to the ice-cube tray which contained little circumscribed pools of water. “That’s what keeps the fridge cold,” she said. It would have been inexcusably impolite to correct her on this point. Her thoughts of melted ice cream, soggy…Continue Reading

In China… Workers Making Apple IPhones Start At $3.15 Per Hour

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + The workers who assemble Apple iPhones make a starting wage of $3.15 per hour in the People’s Republic of China, according to The New York Times. “Apple has said the…Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Legislator . . . Acknowledges Aggression Toward Woman Praying At Planned Parenthood

HARRISBURT, Pa. (CNA) — Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state legislator who on May 2 confronted a woman praying outside Planned Parenthood, said in a video posted to social media May 7 that he was aggressive, and he reiterated his intention of “pushing back” against those who pray or protest outside abortion facilities. Sims had livestreamed…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixth Sunday Of Easter (YR C) Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23 John 14:23-29 In the Gospel reading today, our Lord tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid. It seems to be a rare person today who can actually say he is neither troubled nor afraid. With all that is going…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Pope Is A Catholic

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church is in the grip of a frenzy of accusations, some of them rather superficial. It seems we may be in a bit of a correction period after the pendulum of papolatry swung so far during the reign of Pope St. John Paul II. He enjoyed a very high degree of popularity. Held as…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. A visiting priest gave a homily at Mass today and referred to a book entitled The American Catechism. Do you know what this new catechism is, and is it devoted to the truth of the Magisterium? — J.W., via e-mail. A. The only book we know of with a similar title is the St. Joseph New American Catechism, which…Continue Reading

Gratitude In The Sacred Liturgy And Beyond

By JAMES MONTI The flickering glow of a red sanctuary lamp near the Tabernacle in a quiet church has a lot to teach us, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. It is called a “perpetual” lamp, a lamp meant to burn unceasingly by night and by day, whether seen or unseen, and it bespeaks of unquenchable…Continue Reading

A Share In The Sufferings Of Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday Of Easter (YR C) Readings: Acts 14:21-27 Rev. 21:1-5a John 13:31-33a, 34-35 In the Gospel reading today our Lord, speaking at the Last Supper, says to His apostles: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Paschal Baylon

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the sixteenth century, the Spanish Empire covered the globe, having the most influence and power in its history. For the Catholic Church of Spain, that time was known as the Golden Age. Despite the troubles of the Protestant Revolution, Spain benefited from the work of her saints such as St. Peter of Alcantara, St. John of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Nunzio Sulprizio

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the hagiography of the saints in the Catholic Church, there are rich and poor, noble persons and peasants, brilliant intellects and simple minds, and young as well as old. Perhaps the youngest canonized saint is St. Maria Goretti, who died at the age of eleven defending her honor. At the age of 14, St. José Sanchez…Continue Reading