Monday, April 02, 2007

Faith is a gift

Anon wrote, “On the discussion the other day about truth v. feelings (Feb. 13 post), are we saying that faith rests entirely in the intellect? I ask because that's not the impression I get from true believers.”

When we analyze the human act of faith, we see that it is an act of the intellect and will. Faith is a response to what God has revealed. As the Catechism states, “By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith" (#143).

Now, faith is a human act. Our intellects and wills truly do participate in acts of faith. But, faith is a gift of God. “Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit” (CCC, #154). It is through the grace of Baptism that we most fully receive the gift of faith. As Catholic Christians we can plainly see that we have been given a great gift of believing in Christ. Most of us were baptized as infants, were raised in the Catholic faith, and were led to receive the other two sacraments of Initiation – Eucharist and Confirmation – at an early age. These are all things that we were given in terms of faith, most likely by our parents.

Once we are given faith by God through our parents, it is up to us to freely choose to use it or not. It is analogous to a kid receiving a birthday present: he can either use it or throw it the closet and never use it. I truly believe that God offers each person the gift of faith, in one way or another, at some point in his or her life. He has given each of us an intellect and will that is free to accept or reject the gift of faith. But, He gives us so much help to choose to believe in Him – Divine Revelation, the sacraments, living examples of faith (saints, e.g.), etc., as well as all of the “interior helps of the Holy Spirit”.

Many people say that God doesn’t give us much help to choose to believe in Him. They point to countless examples of evil persons or acts in their lives, and might conclude that God either isn’t there or has forgotten about them. It’s a timely consideration for us as we meditate on Christ’s words from the Cross, “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Even though Christ experienced human rejection and isolation, he never abandoned his human faith in the Father. The hope for those who have strayed in their faith (for whatever reason) is that they will be open to the ways in which their Father is working in their lives. He is working in each of our lives; we need to open our hearts, minds, and eyes of faith to see what He is doing.

Along these lines is a beautiful description from the Catechism (#158):

“'Faith seeks understanding’ (St. Anselm): it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens ‘the eyes of your hearts’ (Eph 1:18) to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God's plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. ‘The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood’ (Vat. II, Dei Verbum). In the words of St. Augustine, ‘I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe’”.

18 Comments:

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does God punish people for their sins by keeping them from receiving grace for a period of time or for their whole earthly life? The other day you mentioned purgatory on earth. Does that really happen?

 
At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

I don't think that is possible, for God to refuse grace to someone. Imean I could be wrong, but God is always calling us to himself nomatter where we are and that in itself is a grace. God's grace is bound and limited by nothing.

 
At 12:20 PM, Anonymous curious said...

I have been invited to a Pentecostal church. I am very curious to see what it is like. If you have great faith in your own religion then going to "see" another church shouldn't matter, right?

 
At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do Catholics think that animals do not have souls? Does the Bible talk about this or is this just our assumption?


short hair said...
Anon,

That is a question I have been wanting to ask for a while. Thanks for asking.

 
At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Stanley Cup said...

Do all Catholic churches celebrate washing of the feet on Thursday?

 
At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

have been invited to a Pentecostal church. I am very curious to see what it is like. If you have great faith in your own religion then going to "see" another church shouldn't matter, right?



Absolutely. You sound like you have great faith in your own religion and that is what is important.

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"either get with it or leave."

Can we please be more civil?

 
At 1:19 PM, Anonymous short hair said...

I have been what was it that attracted me back to the Catholic Church. The Eucharist. There is no other church that has it. Although being a naturally curious person of people and "their" faith I wouldn't give up "mine" because without the Eucharist what is there?

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous allergic to pollen said...

Kat,

What made you come back to the church?

 
At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Short Answer: Its all Jesus' fault.

 
At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Sorry, now that I have a bit more time to really answer your question I will.

I came back to the church, because I looked everywhere else and didn't find the Truth that is the Eucharist. And when I say I looked everywhere else I mean everywehre else... protastant churches, psuedo catholic churches, Judism, paganism even the occult I am ashamed to say. None of them had the whole Truth that is Christ. . . and they all told me it was ok to be angry at the church, to hate the things that had been done to me as a child and as an adult through my parents, boyfriends and later a priest... none of them challenged me to forgive the ones who hurt me. The church did. Christ did. That and the Eucharist is why I came back.

Back in August Fr. Greg opened his door to me, and said he was there if I wanted to talk. I took him up on his offer, there was never any pressure from him to return to the church or to go to confession or anything though I suspect he had everyone he knew praying for me and he gets very quiet when I voice those suspicions... hmmm I think I am on to something, anyway... But even before I 'came back' I started attending Adoration and Mass regularly, I sat in the pew during communion (got a few strange looks from people at St. Andrews but eh...) and slowly over about a month or so the desire for Christ built up I wanted so badly to recieve Him again but I was terrified of going to Confession which I had to do before Icould recieve Him... and one Saturday in September after 1st Saturday Adoration I snagged Fr. Greg and asked him to hear my confession. I seriously thought he was going to jump up and down doing that arm pump thing guys do and shout "YES!" he had that look on his face. But he just got this huge silly grin on his face (I wish I had a camera on me at the time it was priceless) the poor guy ended up late to his bowl of ceral... and about an hour or so later I was "back" I think the length of time had to do with both the ammount of stuff I had and the fact that Fr. Greg had to "walk the dummy through confession" which he does pretty well by the way. The next day at Mass I literally forgot for a second that I could recieve and had to run down the pew to catch up with the line... and minus a few more bumps on the road since I came back the rest as they say is history...

 
At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat-
That's an encouraging story, and strangely my throat felt a little tight reading it. I've always had a hard time talking to anyone, especially when I think it's part of their job. Had the same issue with counseling- would they be there if they didn't "have to"? Wish I could actually be as brave as you by taking, not a first step (I can do that) but taking a second, then third...

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger fran said...

How interesting that the posts of this particular day have literally come full circle.

The first post, by anon, asked if God punishes people for their sins by keeping them from receiving grace... and then, if purgatory on earth really happens.

The second to last post, by Kat, answers both of these questions. Her real life story of stepping away from the Church and her faith, and going through a series of extremely difficult times in her life only to return to the Church and the Eucharist is nothing short of remarkable.

I look at this journey of hers as her earthly purgatory - "painful but purifying" (Fr. Greg's words)
It is obvious that God has not punished her, but instead continues to bestow his grace on her through the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist. Additionally, the Holy Spirit works through her as she provides insight to others on this site.
Amazing!

 
At 11:23 PM, Anonymous blogger said...

On another note:

I know all Novenas are powerful but are their any really extra powerful Novena?

 
At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Laurie said...

At SAA on Good Friday, What is "Born for This" and "7 Last Words?"

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger fran said...

"Born for This" is a contemporary "re-enactment" of the Stations of the Cross, presented by the 7th and 8th grade classes. (possibly 6th grade too-)

It includes music, dance, prayer and reflection. It is a very moving experience, which I have attended a number of times.

"Seven Last Words," is more traditional, in that it is a classical piece based on the final words of Christ. It includes the choir, a soloist(s) and reflections on the last words spoken by Christ. I have not attended this in the past, but hear that it is absolutely beautiful and incredibly moving as well.

Hope you can join us at St. A's!

 
At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Once we are given faith by God through our parents, it is up to us to freely choose to use it or not. It is analogous to a kid receiving a birthday present: he can either use it or throw it the closet and never use it. I truly believe that God offers each person the gift of faith, in one way or another, at some point in his or her life. He has given each of us an intellect and will that is free to accept or reject the gift of faith. But, He gives us so much help to choose to believe in Him – Divine Revelation, the sacraments, living examples of faith (saints, e.g.), etc., as well as all of the “interior helps of the Holy Spirit”.

Thank you, Father Greg, I find your words very encouraging.

Also, thank you, Kat, for sharing about your experience coming back to the Eucharist.

God is so good.

 
At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

You said you have a hard time talking to people if its "thier job" to be there and listen. What if I told you its not part of a priest's job to be there it is thier life. Priesthood isn't a job like a counsler or a therapist, priesthood is like being a parent there isn't any real 'day off' its not 9-5 it is a life filled with caring for people. It takes a special person to be a good priest.

 

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