Posts Tagged ‘theology’

Christian Faith As A divine gift

December 3, 2013

The introduction of the Motu Proprio data “Porta Fidei” of Pope Benedict XVI is a good starting point to fully understand this topic. “The door of faith is always open for us, ushering us into a life of communion with God and offering entry into his church.’

What then is Faith?

Faith starts with the willingness to recognize and question the core mysteries at the heart of existence: why we exist at all and how to make meaning out of our existence. Over the ages Philosophers have sough to discover the essence of human existence. Schools of thought like Satre’s Existentialism which posited that existence and actuality come first and essence is derived afterwards. Kierkegaard posited that man’s essence came from man. Before them Plato and Aristotle had come up with philosophies of Human existence. St Augustine gives the perfect thesis when he proclaimed; “you are great, O lord, and greatly to be praised… you have made us for your self and our heart is restless until it rests in you. From this it can be deducted that the ultimate essence of man can be found only in relation to Divinity.

 Faith, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, is the virtue “by which the intellect is perfected by a supernatural light,” allowing the intellect to assent “firmly to the supernatural truths of Revelation.” Faith is, as Saint Paul says in the Letter to the Hebrews, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is, in other words, a form of knowledge that extends beyond the natural limits of our intellect, to help us grasp the truths of divine revelation, truths that we cannot arrive at purely by the aid of natural reason. In Lumen Genitum, the Fathers of the Second Vatican council posit that “by faith Man commits his entire life to God, making the full submission of his intellect and will who reveals… and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him. According to the CCC compendium “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 it self.

What is a Theological virtue?

Unlike the cardinal virtues, which can be practiced by anyone, the theological virtues are gifts of God through grace. Like all other virtues, the theological virtues are habits; the practice of the virtues strengthens them. Because they aim at a supernatural end, however—that is, they have God as “their immediate and proper object” (in the words of the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913)—the theological virtues must be supernaturally infused into the soul. Thus faith is not something that one can simply begin to practice, but something beyond our nature. The Theological virtues are the pledge of the presence and action of the holy spirit in the faculties of the human being.

What does God reveal to man?

Over history God has revealed himself first of all to Adam and eve, Noah and in a special way to Abraham our father in faith. However the full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in Jesus, the word made flesh. The deposit of faith which Christ has left behind through his Apostles comprises of the Dogmatic tradition and sacred scripture. The both are so closely united that one of them cannot stand without the other. It must be noted however that Christian Faith is not a “religion of the book”, but of the word of God – not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living. The bible doesn’t contain the whole of Jesus’ teaching or Christianity (mk 4:33, lk 24; 15-16. Jn 16:12, 20:30)

Sins against faith

 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

 Indifferentism – This is the belief that one religion is as good as another. In other words, the Catholic faith is equal to the Anglican, ECWA or Pentecostal faith. This rejects the truth that the Catholic Church is the Mother Church.

 

How to preserve the gift from God; Faith.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Porta Fidei proclaims that the year of faith is an opportunity for the whole church to reappropriate the exact knowledge of faith so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it and confess it so as to live it.

1.     Faith come by perception: reading catholic literature especially Papal documents Roms 3:8

2.     Study the lives of the saints

3.     Avoid listening to charlatans.

4.     Prayers and sincere reception of the sacraments.

Namse Udosen

Bibliography and further reading

·        Catechism of the Catholic Church: The compendium

·        Porta Fidei: Apostolic exhortation by Pope Benedixt XVI

·        Lumen Fidei: Papal Encyclical of Pope Francis

·        www.catholicencyclopedia.com

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