Faith - Part 1

In my introduction to theology class, we started by talking about faith.  However, we seemed to spend a lot of time on how a person's particular faith needs to change over their life and how faith needs to undergo tests and crises before a person moves onto another level in their faith life.  I guess this isn't wrong, but I just found the definition lacking.  If faith is just something that is kind of flexible and constantly changing, where exactly are you putting your faith?  I want a faith that's solid.  I know it will grow, but I don't my faith to fall apart when the going gets tough.  That's exactly when I need a faith I can depend on. 

So, I went looking for a solid definition of faith, and thus, I was happily surprised when I found this video by Fr. Barron on Faith, Hope, and Love.  (I'll have to cover the other theological virtues some other time, but he covers the virtue of faith for the first 4 minutes or so)  Basically, Fr. Barron says that today we often misunderstand faith as something below or less than reason: something that reasonable, scientific, modern, people don't need.  We consider it something that only weak people need.  As Marx allegedly said religion is the "opium of the people".   Obviously, the Catholic view is not this.  The Catholic Church teaches that faith supports and respects reason (i.e. faith isn't unreasonable).  Faith is placing trust in a God who isn't controlled by reason.  Faith is beyond, but not in conflict with reason.  

Basically, the problem we have today is we want to limit faith to the human level.  Somebody that the theology professor quoted said that "to be human is to place faith".  Now, I'm not going to argue that humans don't place faith, but this way of looking at faith is limiting it to the human level.  Thus, we think that since faith is beyond reason it is weaker than reason; folks that's not the point.  Human reason is something that is limited by our nature as humans; it will only get us so far.  Faith can go further, but only if we let it.  Faith is uncomfortable because it is putting trust in something greater than ourselves; it is hard because it requires us to believe in something that we can't control.  We like control and faith isn't about gaining control but surrendering it.  

Now, digging a little deeper, it's time to crack open the catechism:  In paragraph 153 we find that Faith is a grace, it is a gift from God, and we can't get it on our own.  Matthew 16:16-17 - "Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."  Faith cannot be something that we think we are in control of and we can acquire, change, or drop at will.  In paragraph 154 we see that faith is still a human act; we have to decide to receive the grace of faith from God and accept His truths.   Paragraph 156 is especially relevant to what I was noting earlier: "What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe "because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived."  So "that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit."  Faith, in paragraph 157, is shown to be certain, it is founded upon God's word, so it's more truthful (and trustworthy) than any human science.  

My super-short-summary: Faith is a grace that God gives us, that we choose to accept, and then have to trust.  It can't go contrary to reason, but it will definitely go beyond reason.  Tough luck folks; faith isn't limited or controllable by you because it's from God.

Ok, there you have it - Faith - Part 1.  I am finding more and more about this virtue, so I'll have to write up a second post covering what I missed...


  1. Hi Dominic,

    Well, this will be the third comment I've written...little did you know!...but the first one lil Helen powered off before I could click publish and the other somehow didn't work either. So, here goes my third attempt. We'll see if it works:-)!

    Let me just say that I am enjoying your blog and have faithfully been reading since I received the link from your Mom. I especially liked the Pro Life Video, the Altar Server Video, and the posts about St. Joseph and St. Thomas Aquinas. I didn't have time to watch the video attached to this post...gotta get a child to bed...and me too!!

    Anyway, to keep my thoughts short and sweet because I don't want to invest too much time on this if it won't actually publish!, I'd like to compliment you on your blog. Your seminary routine sounds like an exciting adventure...and your thoughts are provoking, interesting, and to the point. If your future sermons are going to be like your posts...I predict you will make a wonderful priest that the congregation will appreciate and enjoy and relate to. Keep up the good work! My only measly request is that you put the English translation behind your Latin hope is to learn and identify a few more than just "veni vedi veci" which I got extra credit for in the 10th grade! Ha ha!!!:-) (I don't remember if I'm spelling that right or not??)

    Have a peaceful night! God bless you!!
    Trisha (you know, from the FF/FS Vigil)

  2. Thank you for the compliment! I'll try to keep the posts coming (with translations for the latin!)