Every minute of every day, through every experience and encounter that we have, God invites us into His company. In order to believe, our hearts must be ready to listen and respond to God’s invitation.
This response is faith, and it involves completely submitting our intellect and our will to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is a free abandonment to the truth, “by trust in the person who bears witness to it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 177). Faith stakes everything on a relationship with this person, Jesus Christ, accepting Him as revelation of the one, all-merciful and all-powerful God.
The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (YOUCAT) lays out the qualities of faith in bullet points:
Faith is knowledge and trust. It has seven characteristics:
- Faith is a sheer gift of God, which we receive when we fervently ask for it.
- Faith is the supernatural power that is absolutely necessary if we are to attain salvation.
- Faith requires the free will and clear understanding of a person when he accepts the divine invitation.
- Faith is absolutely certain, because Jesus guarantees it.
- Faith is incomplete unless it leads to active love.
- Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to God’s Word and enter a lively exchange with him in prayer.
- Faith gives us even now a foretaste of the joy of heaven (21).
Faith is an authentically human act, in which our “intellect and will cooperate with divine grace” (CCC, 155). God does give us “motives of credibility,” in the miracles of Christ, the witness of saints, true prophecies, and in the fruitfulness of the Church (CCC, 156). Still faith “seeks understanding,” calling the believer to dive deeper into “a more penetrating knowledge,” which “will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love” (CCC, 158).
“To live, grow, and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be ‘working through charity,’ abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church” (CCC, 162). We must also look to witnesses of the faith, like Abraham and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, when we need help persevering through the world’s temptations.
Faith is a personal act, but it cannot be an isolated act. We receive our faith from others, and so we must pass it along to others. “Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers” (CCC, 166). That is why it is important that we profess our faith together with the Church.
The Church is “our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both ‘I believe’ and ‘We believe’” (CCC, 167). Because the Church is our mother, she teaches us the faith and she nourishes us in it. She does not give us formulas, but she does give us ways to express and celebrate the faith as one throughout the world. We will reflect on this in our next Year of Faith post.
This is our sixth Year of Faith reflection on the Catechism of the Catholic Church here on Open Wide the Doors. See our first post .