What is faith?
Faith is a theological virtue which means that this gift comes from God and leads us back to God. This theological virtue is the power to believe the truths revealed by God about Himself that are contained in Sacred Tradition (the teachings handed on from Christ) and Sacred Scripture. We could never know these truths about God on our own, since they transcend the power of human reason. For example, we could not know that God is one in three Persons.
God infuses into our soul the supernatural virtue of faith at Baptism. Supernatural means that it is above our nature. Developing the virtue of faith involves our willingness to cooperate with what God asks; it is not a blind leap but it does involve taking “risks”, stepping out in trust to follow God’s will while always keeping our focus on Christ. The Letter to the Hebrews states: “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith” (12:1-2).
Believing in God is possible only by God’s grace and yet it is a free human act. God has given us free will and so He would not force us to believe in Him. We believe in God because what He has revealed is the Truth. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God Who is Himself God. We believe in the Holy Spirit because He is God. We believe in Eternal Life: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
The reasonableness of faith is that God is the source of all Truth even though we may not understand all that we are called to believe. However, “faith seeks understanding,” spurring us on to study in an ongoing way in order to know and love Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit in a deeper way.
Why do we need the supernatural virtue of faith?
Faith makes us capable of living as God’s children and of inheriting eternal life. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Romans 11:6). Faith disposes us to live in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ Who calls us to lead a virtuous life, pursuing good and avoiding evil. Christ is the only One Who can save us and therefore we need to cling to Him by faith. The virtue of faith helps us to know the right moral behavior to be a disciple of Christ, while recognizing the existence of God’s mercy when we fail. Faith enables us to see Christ in those around us, above all, the poor.
Through faith, we recognize the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, faith allows us to be living members of the Catholic Church and is a constant and firm support, even in the most difficult times.
How do we nourish and renew faith?
In his book, The Virtue Driven Life, Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. says, “If we really believe, we will pray to God every day. It will be important to pray to Jesus, speak to Him, ask for His help. We will enjoy and be fed by meditating on His mysteries. We will do what He said and have a spirit of self-sacrifice. Our priorities will be to seek, listen, struggle, search, find, do, go beyond the commonplace…If we are unwilling to go beyond our elementary level of faith, it will begin to slip away, and it will become easy to accept this and reject that” (p. 103).
When we need the gift of faith to be strengthened, the most important thing we can do is ask for it: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Psalm 34:6). Let us commit to renewing our faith and growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ during by being committed to daily prayer, regularly receiving the Sacraments and participating in a Bible or Faith Study Group.