My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Year of Faith, II: "Help My Unbelief"; "Increase Our Faith!"

Two Bible verses that come to mind when I think about the Year of Faith are "I do believe: help my unbelief" (Mk. 9:23), and the apostles' prayer to Our Lord: "Increase our faith," (Lk. 17:5).  Either of these could be a good prayer for the Year of Faith.

With the father of the possessed boy, we can pray: "I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief."  This seems to be the prayer of the individual member of the Church, who says directly to the Lord by his life that he believes, that he is grateful for the gift of Faith, for having been given the grace to be a member of the true Church, of the Totus Christi, to use Augustine's powerful phrase.  I believe, but I know that as long as I am in this life where I "walk by faith, and not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7), I can always grow in faith.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about faith as something personal:
Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God.  At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed.  As personal adherence to God and assent to [H]is truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person.  It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to god and to believe absolutely what [H]e says.  It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.  (CCC, 150)
The Catechism summarizes this in its "In Brief" section: "Faith is a personal adherence of the whole man to God [W]ho reveals [H]imself.  It involves an assent of the intellect and will to the self-revelation God has made through [H]is deeds and words" (CCC, 176).

With the Apostles--and this seems more a prayer made in communion with the whole Church, not individually but as a member of the Totus Christi--we can pray: "Increase our faith." We can always learn more about our Faith.  With God's grace we can always grow in our belief in God as one, "not in the unity of a single person, but in the trinity of a single nature" (Preface for the Holy Trinity, Extraordinary Form).  We can always grow in our belief in Jesus Christ as true God and true Man, as the Word of God, the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.  We can always grow in our belief that the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Our Blessed Lord on Peter the Rock.

The Holy Father, in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, written to inaugurate the Year of Faith, distinguishes between the faith of the individual qua individual and the faith of the individual qua member of the Church, the Totus Christi, the Mystical Body of Christ:
Profession of faith is an act both personal and communitarian.  It is the Church that is the primary subject of faith.  In the faith of the Christian community, each individual receives baptism, an effective sign of entry into the people of believers in order to obtain salvation.
The Holy Father then goes on to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Faith is a personal act--the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself.  But faith is not an isolated act.  No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone.  You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life.  The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others.  Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith.  Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers.  I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.
"I believe" (Apostles' Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism.  "We believe" (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers.  "I believe" is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both "I believe" and "We believe."  (CCC, 166-167)
Faith gives us certitude; it gives us the ability to surrender, to abandon ourselves into the hands of God Who is Love and in Whom we believe because He is worthy of belief, because He cannot lie to us.  The Holy Father says this in Porta Fidei:
Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God. (Porta Fidei, 7)
According to Daily Catholic, the cross is the symbol for the virtue of faith, just as the anchor is the symbol of hope.  So hopefully the next post in this series on the Year of Faith will be the relationship between two things (faith and suffering) with the same symbol (the cross).
I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!
Lord, increase our faith!
God Love Y'all!
~Emily (aka "Hurt-ey")


  1. Hi, found you through flocknote's "Where are you from" thread. I'm loving your blog, and anyone who likes Fulton Sheen is gold in my book. I'm trying to blog every day for the Year of Faith over at my place, love for you to swing by:

  2. Hi, love your posts on the Year of Faith! Anyone who likes Fulton Sheen is also "gold in my book." ;) God Love you!