I don’t know if you’ve signed up to read the entire Catechism in a year (a daily dose delivered by email), but I am woefully behind. I should be setting time aside daily, but it hasn’t really happened, so I often find myself catching up and reading four or five sections at a time. This morning, in one of these catch-up sessions, I read a section on faith (articles 153-159), which perfectly corresponded to a conversation I was engaged in over the weekend.
In a nutshell, I was discussing with a friend whether any faith traditions were valid; if they all were; or if they were all fake. From her (agnostic) perspective, religions are merely methods people used to make themselves happy on earth, but aren’t actually based in reality. I argued that my faith was real (not just an excuse to give structure to my life), and that reason could show that the universe was created. What she said that I couldn’t prove with reason alone – and she was right – is that God (a Catholic God) was real and present in my life.
I can’t prove God’s presence to her by reason alone because it is faith that allows me to know, love and serve God. Yet somehow to unbelievers, to say “I believe” is not enough. Sadly, too many people think that faith is neither credible nor reasonable.
The Catechism section I read this morning, however, reminded me of several very helpful things about how faith is real, how it builds on reason and how it is, in fact, reasonable. It says:
- Faith is a Gift: I cannot just argue someone into believing in God. The Catechism says, “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.”
- Trusting in God is a free, human act: People who have faith have not given up their freedom. Rather, they have chosen to accept this gift from God and believe in Christ. The Catechism says, “Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason”
- While one cannot reach Faith by reason alone, we have proofs that Faith is reasonable: Revelation that we have seen in our own lives and throughout Church history allows us to even more reasonably claim our faith. The Catechism says, “The miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability ‘are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all’; they are ‘motives of credibility’ (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind’.”
- Faith is a certainty: There can be no doubt in the tenets of faith once we have faith because, as the Catechism says, God cannot lie.
- Faith seeks understanding: Faith implies a love of God. When we love someone, we naturally seek to know him or her more. The Catechism explains that this is a cycle of growth: out of faith, we seek to know more about God, and as we learn more about Him, we grow even more in our faith.
- Faith and Science will never contradict each other: God created the world and therefore created science. True scientific discoveries will not contradict the faith, and faith will not contradict science. The Catechism says that science “can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.”
Too often, I am swayed by our agnostic culture into somehow forgetting that faith is the most reasonable position we can possibly hold: believing in God Who created me, Who sent His Son to save me and Who demonstrates His love for me time and time again.
During this Year of Faith: Lord, increase my faith.