Saturday 28th January 2023

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Vices And Sins Opposed To Faith

December 22, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church crisply summarizes the Church’s fundamental teaching on the theological virtue of faith, as unpacked in the last two installments, in three brief sentences:
“Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and all that he has revealed to us and that the Church proposes for our belief because God is Truth itself. By faith the human person freely commits himself to God. Therefore, the believer seeks to know and do the will of God because ‘faith works through charity’ (Gal. 5:6)” (n. 386).
To be sure, faith is absolutely necessary for salvation. Our Lord Himself said, “He who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). However, as demonstrated last week, it must be a living faith, a faith animated by charity. “A faith that does not include works of love toward God and neighbor is empty and, therefore, does not lead to salvation and holiness,” affirms The Didache Bible (TDB). “Faith, in its true sense, always involves the practice of charity in the form of prayer, self-denial, and deeds of mercy and love toward others. Unless faith is expressed in acts of charity, it remains ineffective” (p. 1580).
St. James announces this principle clearly: “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17). Moreover, believers are obligated to profess and defend their faith: “Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1815).
Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, provides a list of responsibilities that are incumbent upon followers of Christ if they are to authentically practice the virtue of Faith. They must: preserve the Faith, live the Faith, profess the Faith, courageously bear witness to the Faith, spread the Faith, be ready to confess Christ before others and follow Him along the way of the Cross, be ready to suffer persecution for the Faith, and be willing to die for the Faith if necessary (cf. The Faith, p. 163).
We will now consider vices opposed to faith, beginning with the sin of disbelief (incredulity), which the Catechism defines as “the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it” (CCC, n. 2089). A distinction, however, must first be made according to St. Thomas Aquinas: “A man [may] be called an unbeliever merely because he has not the faith,…[or] by way of opposition to the faith, in which sense a man refuses to hear the faith, or despises it” (Summa Theologiae [STh] II-II, Q. 10, art. 1).
In the first instance, the person lacks faith in the one true religion due to invincible ignorance (i.e., through no fault of his own, he has not had access to God’s revelation with apt motives of credibility). In such a case, sin is not imputable. It is to this situation Jesus referred when He said: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (John 15:22a).
However, if a person is presented with the one, true faith and willfully rejects it, he is guilty of the sin of disbelief. As Jesus continues on to say, “But now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22b).
What is the underlying cause for the sin of disbelief? “Unbelief, in so far as it is a sin,” says the Angelic Doctor, “arises from pride, through which man is unwilling to subject his intellect to the rules of faith, and to the sound interpretation of the Fathers” (STh II-II, Q. 10, art. 1, ad 3).
In other words, a person willfully chooses to not submit his mind to God, the Church, and the one true faith as manifested in Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium.
The gravity of the sin of disbelief is great because it separates one’s mind from being guided by God. “Apart from the sins directly opposed to the other theological virtues (i.e., hope and charity),” states Msgr. Paul J. Glenn, “unbelief is the greatest of sins, because it severs a man completely from God and falsifies his very notion of God” (A Tour of the Summa [ATS], p. 193).
Three forms of the sin of incredulity are listed in paragraph 2089 of the Catechism: heresy, apostasy, and schism. As defined by the 1983 Code of Canon Law, “heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; and schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (canon 751).
Citing St. Thomas, Dr. Lawrence Feingold, STD, points out: “Objectively, heresy and apostasy are the greatest of the sins of disbelief because they involve rejection of something already received (cf. STh II-II, Q. 10, art. 6)” (Course Notes for Fundamental Moral Theology [FMT], December 2009, p. 148).
We see scriptural evidence attesting to this from St. Peter: “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:21). Thus, it may be inferred that “those who have come to know the truth and yet return to their former sins are worse off than those who never knew the truth in the first place” (TDB, p. 1674).
When speaking of heresy, an important distinction must be made between formal heresy and material heresy. Formal heresy implies a culpable resistance to an article of faith; as such, it indicates obstinacy in rejecting something that God has revealed. Material heresy, in contrast, consists in making a mistake about a matter of faith or denying a matter of faith out of ignorance. It only becomes formal heresy and a sin against the virtue of faith if one is informed of his mistake and still persists in his obstinacy. Heresy, then, properly speaking, is formal heresy.
As discussed two weeks ago, for an act of faith to be virtuous, there must be motives of credibility upon which belief rests. Indeed, it would be imprudent to make an assent of belief if motives of credibility were not present. But we have miracles, prophecies fulfilled, the four marks of the Church, and the sanctity of God’s Revelation as motives of credibility. If one has been presented with motives of credibility (or could and should have been aware of them), he is culpable for the obstinate resistance to an article of faith and falls into the sin of formal heresy.
It is interesting to note that even Church doctors such as Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine fell into material heresy, but would have been the first to recant if the Church taught otherwise. On the other hand, the stubborn obstinacy of Martin Luther who went so far as to burn Pope Leo X’s bull of condemnation is a textbook case of formal heresy.
Every act of formal heresy has the result that one loses the virtue of faith entirely. By denying one article or tenet of faith, the heretic is necessarily putting himself in the position where he no longer holds any article by divine faith, but just by human faith. In other words, by denying one article of faith, he is setting his own reason, his own judgment, as the criteria for deciding; he is making himself the arbiter. (As an interesting sidelight, the word “heresy” comes from the Greek word for “choice” [see STh II-II, Q. 11, art. 1].) Therefore, anything and everything else that he holds as an article of faith is because he has judged it acceptable by human reason.
The Catechism lists doubt as a potential sin against the virtue of faith: “Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief” (CCC, n. 2088). Since the very definition of faith requires firm assent of the mind to the Word of God, deliberate and voluntary doubt can be seen to be incompatible with the gift of faith. “If deliberately cultivated,” states the Catechism, “doubt can lead to spiritual blindness” (ibid.).

Grave Sin

Involuntary doubt, in contrast, “refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity” (ibid.). This form of doubt is not sinful; in fact, “as long as it is resisted by the will, can be the source of merit. God not infrequently permits terrible trials of faith in His saints to further purify the virtue of faith in the dark night of the spirit” (FMT, p. 154).
One need only look to the great trials of faith experienced by St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta to confirm this. As related in Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa did not sensibly feel the presence of faith for the last 48 years of her life except for a brief one-month period.
The Angelic Doctor includes blasphemy as a sin in opposition to the virtue of faith (see STh II-II, Q. 13, aa. 1-4). As defined in the Catechism, blasphemy is “uttering against God — inwardly or outwardly — words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name” (CCC, n. 2148).
Msgr. Glenn characterizes blasphemy as “an emphatic form of unbelief” (ATS, p. 195). Its gravity is strikingly demonstrated in that the death penalty was imposed for its commission in the Law of Moses (see Lev. 24:16).

+ + +

(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

House Republicans approved 2 #ProLife measures.

The first measure would ban #Abortion on babies born alive and require the babies be given medical care and treatment. The other measure condemned a spurt of growing attacks against crisis pregnancy centers.

House Republicans Pass Pro-Life Bills

House Republicans on Jan. 11 approved two pro-life measures. The first measure passed by the House would ban abortion ...

www.theepochtimes.com

"I'm afraid that the West will die. There are plenty of signs. You are invaded,still,by other cultures & peoples,who will progressively dominate you by their numbers and change your culture, your convictions, your morality."~ Cardinal Robert Sarah

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…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

Catechism

Today . . .

Catholic journalist George Neumayr dies in Africa

COTE D’IVOIRE (LifeSiteNews) – George Neumayr, an author and journalist who fearlessly exposed corruption in the Catholic Church, died of malaria last night. He was 50. He had been in Africa since December 26, 2022, studying Christianity there and “what the Church in the West could learn from it, both good and bad,” according to his journalism fund updates and several articles he wrote from the former French colony.

Cardinal Müller slams Pope Francis’ ‘political’ laicization of Fr. Pavone

ROME (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller strongly defended Fr. Frank Pavone and slammed Pope Francis’ laicization of the renowned pro-life priest in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews. Cardinal Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the top Vatica

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at Age 95

Funeral Mass to be held January 5.

Cardinals block appointment of Heiner Wilmer as Prefect of the DDF

Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, the prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith who was still in office, had received his mandate in an unexpected way in the summer of 2017. Until then, the Spanish Jesuit had been secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, i.e. the right hand of the prefect. At the time, the prefect was still Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former bishop of Regensburg, whom Pope Benedict XVI had appointed…Continue Reading

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Bold Steps Needed To Address Illegal Immigration

By STEPHEN M. KRASON One of the ways in which the rule of law has been utterly flouted by the Biden administration has been its unwillingness to seriously enforce U.S. immigration law. In fact, the current crisis at the southern border is largely due to Biden’s signaling, as soon as he took office, that people…Continue Reading

McCarrick’s Lawyers Say He’s Not Competent To Stand Trial

By JOE BUKURAS MDEDHAM, Mass. (CNA) — Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in “significant” mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss…Continue Reading

Pregnancy Is Not A Disease… No One Could Observe This In Contemporary America

By R.T. NEARY “Follow the science” has been the mandate since 2019 in this once-united nation that is still officially entitled The United States of America. “Experts” have been featured on TV screens voicing this as Gospel.Public dialogue has centered on the reality of a threat posed by a living organism present in our environment.…Continue Reading

Death Of Cardinal George Pell

By RAYMOND CARDINAL BURKE With the sudden death of Cardinal George Pell, the Church has lost the earthly company of a wise, loving, joyful, and courageous shepherd. I have lost the earthly company of a good friend and example in the Sacred College of Cardinals. Having visited at length with Cardinal Pell on the afternoon…Continue Reading

Joining The Communion Of Saints

By DONALD DeMARCO Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was truly a Renaissance woman. She won a seat in Congress and held an ambassadorship. She was the managing editor of Vanity Fair. As an author, her writings extended from drama and screen scenarios to fiction, journalism, and war reportage. As a pro-life stalwart, she wrote for The…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. When Joseph and Mary came to the inn in Bethlehem, the innkeeper said that there was no room and told them to “go on.” That night an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in his dream and said, “It is you who shall go on and on.” Is this true? — J.B., Pennsylvania.A. Not according to the Gospel…Continue Reading

New Book By Ganswein On BXVI

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Part 2 Upon his death we shared the witness that Pope Benedict lived in the words he uttered. Archbishop Georg Ganswein’s book Nothing But the Truth recounting his life with the great Pope is now out in bookstores. Here I share some vignettes of that volume from an advance unofficial English translation.In October 1978 the…Continue Reading

Basics Of Christian Anthropology

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this article on January 13 and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + Anthropology is, most simply, the science or study of human beings through time and space. Different specialties focus on the analysis of biological/physiological characteristics and the examination of societies/cultures. In the religious sense, anthropology…Continue Reading

Grace And Humility

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Zeph. 2:3, 3:12-131 Cor. 1:26-31Matt. 5:1-12a In the first reading today, the Lord calls all the humble of the Earth to seek Him. Interestingly, He then calls them to seek justice and humility with the hope that they would be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. See the contact information at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 11) Following the path of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Damian

By DEB PIROCH For those in search of a night free of insomnia, it’s said those with a clean conscience sleep blissfully. Yet, many of us know it is not quite that easy to vanquish insomnia and in truth, the longer one tries, the less one is inclined to fall sleep. At the least it can be exhausting, at the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Dunstan

By DEB PIROCH Before St. Thomas Becket, the saint most likely to be invoked by an Englishman was St. Dunstan. He was successively appointed the abbot of Glastonbury, the bishop of Worcester, the bishop of London, archbishop of Canterbury and later, the bishop of Winchester. Additionally, he was related to at least one archbishop and three bishops; perhaps being a…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)