Although as Catholics we live in faith Trusting in Our Lord Jesus Christ and his promise of Salvation for us, we are nevertheless inclined to ask what is faith? and what does it mean to have faith? The Scriptures tell us that " Without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that comes to God must believe that he is and is rewarder to them that seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
In understand what is meant by faith we will consider it in terms of reality. Lets take for example a person says to you that a triangle is known as a plain figure bounded by the straight lines (assuming you don't know what a triangle is). Now lets say you believe what the person told you is true, you then have made an act of faith in believing that what the person has told you to be true. This is because you believe it to be true because of you understanding, as you have not yet seen or understood the nature of Triangle. Now lets say that the person no longer wishes to only keep you excepting this just because he has said it, now he will draw it for you and explain the meaning of the definition for you. Now that you understand it you are moved to confirm the same truth not because someone told you but because the nature of the triangle is in your mind and its own evidence compels you to assent to it. So that now you are no longer performing an act of faith or belief, as now you are performing an act of Science.
From the above we note that you assented to the same truth (you confessed the same thing) but you Knew it in two different ways: in this case, first by an act of faith and then by an act of Science (Logical understanding). In the act of Faith there are two things to consider, WHAT you believed and The REASON for accepting this truth. The motive (reason) you believed was based on the authority of the person telling you. Thus when considering an act of faith we must consider both what we believe and Why. It can be thus said that An act of Faith then is an act by which our intellect (human understanding) moved by our will assents to some truth on the authority of another.
THE THREE SORTS OF FAITH?
Since our acts of faith are distinguished according to the authority we believe. It can be said that there are the three sorts of faith that we recognize.
1. HUMAN FAITH: in which our motive for believing is some human authority. For example, when we believe our date of birth on the authority of our parents telling us.
2. ECCLESIASTICAL FAITH: here our motive is the authority of the Catholic Church when for example, in canonizing St Puis X the church tells us that he is a Saint in heaven.
3. DIVINE FAITH: in which, helped by god's grace, we believe truths revealed by God and we believe them on the authority of God revealing them. It is this last sort of faith that this article is concerning.
Divine Faith concerns namely two things: That is the virtue of Faith and the act of Faith. What is a Virtue? A Virtue is a habit or power, which enables us to do something in a stable and easy manner. Think of the artistic habit of a great pianist has. He knows how to perform musical works even the most difficult composition, so that doing so looks easy even when performing great works and they make it seem as if it is a second nature them. However the Virtue of Divine faith is one that cannot be attained by our own natural powers but is one that is given by God (e.g. like the gift of Baptism). By divine Faith our intelligence assents to truths not just any truth but the truths about GOD and his intimate life and dealings with men. The truths of faith itself however, which God reveals are Properly Supernatural, that is they can't simply be understood by logic (the human intelligence alone e.g. the Holy Trinity) thus it can be said that to accept these truths our intellect requires A special Gift of light, (God's Grace). God in fact is in matters of Divine faith is The solely reliable authority as he alone is the author of the supernatural the order of Grace, in which he speaks to us as a Father to his Children, and reveals to us the mysteries that that surpass human (or angelic) understanding. He has conferred on his Church the power to teach infallibly what truths he has revealed. The virtue of divine faith is an abiding supernatural gift of light and goodwill which moves us to accept all God's revealed truths with filial confidence and gratitude in as much as they are made known to us by an infinitely perfect father whom we believe with having ever seen but whom we shall see after death in the unending light of heaven.
Sins Against Divine Faith
All Sins against the Virtue of Faith must have one feature in common: Obviously they must all endanger faith. Some sins threaten this virtue of faith completely while others act more silently and weaken our faith little by little until it is altogether lost.
The Denial of Faith
The Two sins which destroy the virtue of faith are Heresy and Apostasy (an abandonment of the Truth for false beliefs eg To become a Hindu). Heresy (or a Heretic) denies some article of the Catholic faith, while apostasy (an Apostate) goes even further and denies all of God's revealed truths. However to deny one article of the faith is in principle to deny is all of them as by deny one we say that it is not gods revealed truth.
THE TWO PRECEPTS OF CHARITY
1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. 2. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.