1. Episode summary

2. Discussion questions

3. More resources

Episode summary

Having faith does not mean blindly believing things that make no sense. Instead, it means that there are some truths that are too big to fit in our heads in their entirety. If there is a God who created the universe and is outside and infinitely above it, then it makes sense that there would be some things about Him that we can’t comprehend. If we could fit God fully into our minds, we would have minds like God. While we can’t fit everything in our heads, we can still understand enough of the Truth to believe in the rest.

Imagine you have a friend who has never been to the ocean, and you want to prove to him that it exists. So you go to the beach, fill up a bucket of water, collect some shells and sand, maybe take a photo. Then you bring all the evidence to your friend. Looking at that evidence, your friend isn’t going to understand everything about the ocean. However, there will be enough evidence that they can believe that an ocean exists.

Faith requires four things:

  • God’s initiative. “Faith is a grace… a gift of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 153). In the same way that your friend can't conjure up the idea of the ocean without your help, we can’t understand God without His help.
  • God’s credible authority. “what moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason, but the authority of God himself who reveals them and who cannot deceive nor be deceived” (CCC, no. 156). God, who is Truth itself, cannot deceive us.
  • The involvement of our intellect. We don’t just passively accept what we are told. God wants us to consider and make sense of the evidence.
  • The involvement of our will. No matter how compelling the evidence is, we have to make a choice to accept or reject it.

Some other attributes of Faith:

  • It has to be free. If there is a truth that you are struggling to accept, go and honestly seek the answer, and then make a free choice.
  • Faith leads to action. If a person insists that they believe in something but they don’t act according to that belief, then the people around them might reasonably begin to doubt that they truly believe it.
  • Faith is necessary for salvation. We can’t get to heaven without faith. Even people who don’t explicitly know the name Jesus can come to know and have faith in God.
  • Faith overflows. If we really believe that something is true and will bring us eternal happiness, it makes sense that we would want to share it with others.
  • We can lose Faith. We have to keep asking God to increase our Faith and not allow ourselves to become complacent.

An example of faith: the Annunciation

We can see all four attributes of Faith in the Gospels, when the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will become the Mother of God (Luke 1:26-38).

  • God is the instigator. Mary could never have known and understood what was going to happen to her without God’s help.
  • Mary’s intellect was involved. She asks the angel to help her understand what is going to happen to her.
  • Mary’s will is involved. She says yes: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
  • Mary understands that the messenger is credible. She clearly has a personal relationship with God, because she is able to implicitly trust that what the angel is telling her, crazy as it sounds, is true.

Let’s try to imitate Mary in her Faith, and ask her to intercede for us, so that our faith might increase.

Discussion questions:

  • In what ways does God take the initiative to help us have faith?
  • The intellect and the will are both important elements of faith. What happens if one or the other is missing? How is faith more than just believing in God?
  • If God give us faith as a gift, why are there so many people who do not believe?
  • There are a lot of people who don’t believe in God but are still good people... What’s so important about having faith?
  • Are there any truths of faith that I’m struggling to understand and believe?

More resources:

Marcellino D’Ambrosio and Andrew Swafford, What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith, Book