Faith, Solid and Fragile

2 May

You have to keep your eyes open if you want to discover the beauty of faith. And your heart must be thristy for truth and for God himself.

AT MEN’S BIBLE STUDY, April 30, we began studying Romans. The question arose about faith – not what faith is, but the reality, quality and power of faith. The question arose: Does it mean that if we sin we do not have faith?

No, we sin even though we have faith. Human nature is compromised by the original sin of pride on the part of Adam and Eve. So, despite our good intentions, strong and true faith to the contrary, we sin.

I am reminded of something I read in Father John Catoir’s works: “We don’t pray to be holy; we pray because we are holy.” That statement shook me to the core – because I thought I had to make myself holy; it was in my power. Actually, it is God who makes us holy. As the old adage holds, “God don’t make no junk.”

From the question of personal culpability for sin in the lives of the faithful of God, we discussed briefly those folks who are known as public sinners – prostitutes, pimps and drug pushers for example. Do they or do they not have some degree of faith in God? Who knows but God?

I tend to believe that people who chose such an apparently “evil” life are more victims of sin than people out to deny God at every turn. Father James T. Burtchaell, in “Philemon’s Problem” (five stars on Amazon), writes of an engrained evil in society, an evil into which people are often born and never find or even believe there is a way out. (I read this book many years ago and recommend it without reservation.)

THEN, MOST OF US with very gray or no hair recalled our catechism days when we were told that faith was a gift from God. But we do not recall ever being told that faith was a relationship. Perhaps our young minds did not register this part of the lesson.

Just look up “faith” in the new Catholic Catechism. You’ll find more than 150 subcategories dealing with this crucial and wonderful topic.

Here are some of the very first areas treated in the catechism: to believe in God alone; to believe in Jesus Christ; to believe in the Holy Spirit. It goes on to state that faith is a grace (a gift); and, faith is a human act (you accept the truth that God is).

The catechism goes on to discuss faith in the light of reason and understanding – and its relationship to science.

So, “faith” can’t really be contained in a quart jar with the lid screwed on tight. Faith is solid, in that God calls us to himself and reveals Truth; faith is fragile in that we are weak sinners, and too often we grab on to “faith” and try to lock it down into a comfortable, manageable, unchanging and unchallengeable myopic image of true faith.

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