Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Roman Catholic Man and the Virtue of Faith

Now we venture into the theological virtue of faith.  What is faith?  Is it the same as belief?  Not entirely, for St. James tells us in his epistle that the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19).  Belief is part of the equation, obedience to belief is the other part.  As faith is a theological virtue, it is not one we can cultivate by merely our own strength, but as a response to God's gift.  Jesus reminds us that no one comes to Him unless the father beckons.  This is why we believe that a man cannot call himself faithful yet act in disobedience to God.  The two are mutually exclusive.

Faith is ordered to obedience.  Faith seeks the will of God, craves it, and devours it once found. Faith manifest a trust in God's will and providence for us.  It is why the Church cannot see itself in opposition to the revealed truth of God.  It is why the Church does not change its teachings on faith and morals: faith demands obedience to no man over God, even if that 'no man' is myself. To be obedient to the will of God necessitates knowing the will of God.

Herein is the crisis we face in the developed world: We have switched allegiance from God to the world.  For many, even those in the pews and pulpits, faith has been transferred to the world.  We place more credence in money, power, and pleasure than we do in God.  We believe that the world can offer us comfort here and now.  We even reshape heaven into an eternal prolongation of such self-indulgence.  That we would submit our will to God and His Church is ridiculed; our will is God's will now.  He'll just have to understand.  Ego non serviam!  "I will not serve!"  These are the words poet John Milton places in the mouth of Satan as he rebels against God.  When true faith in God breaks down, we no longer respond to Him, but to the world.

Jesus assures us that He is oriented to our good; whether it be the image of the Good Shepherd or the Cross itself, Jesus gives us reason to have faith. But faith, again, is ordered to obedience.

Disobedience cannot co-exist with faith; one must choose one over the other.  This disobedience finds itself in acceptance of sin as the necessary norm: the acceptance of artificial birth control, cohabitation, every and all sexual deviancy, porn, the redefinition of marriage and family, eugenics, abortion, greed, apathy, and such are destroying the nation all under the false definition of tolerance.  We cannot say God bless America and then run Him out of every imaginable institution and avenue of our life.

The Roman Catholic man must cultivate this divine gift of the virtue of faith.  How does he do that?  First it is important to actively seek to know what we believe and why we believe it.  God doesn't want blind faith; the Catholic faith is a reasoned faith.  We believe what we believe for a reason.  That men see learning as beneath them gives the devil a superhighway in which to operate.  The devil LOVES ignorance, especially intentional ignorance!    Ignorance leaves open rampant disobedience.  We, as men, can memorize tons of useless information: sports stats, song lyrics, and such.  Our minds need better food than that!  With the offerings we have now available, there is no reason for ignorance to remain.  To cultivate the virtue of faith means we have to actively engage in getting to know the faith.

It does not remain there though.  No, the harder part is to realign one's life with that knowledge.  The Roman Catholic man knows true knowledge must be positively acted upon.  He knows that there is no room to compromise away truth.  He is steadfast in his obedience to the will of God.  He also knows that when he hasn't been, when his faith has waned, that it must be addressed through the seeking of forgiveness, especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation.  He sees willful disobedience as anathema to his relationship with God and with those around him.

To the Roman Catholic man called to marriage: you CANNOT execute your role as spiritual head of the home without cultivating the virtue of faith.  Your being spiritual role is not to be delegated to your wife (she has roles to do, she shouldn't have to do yours as well) and is not to be ignored without severe consequence.  As you and your wife are the primary teachers of your children in the ways of the faith, you can only give that which you have.  You owe it to those placed in your care to be a man of faith: both in knowledge and execution.  The faith of the dad is a major predictor of the faith of the children.  The faith of the father is also a major factor in the rise of priestly vocations. You are the model of faith.  Your faith either nourishes or poisons your family's faith.  So what are you doing to enrich your knowledge, belief, and execution of faith?  It's not an option if you are to be serious about your role.

To the Roman Catholic man called to priesthood: Father, you are the parish what a dad is to his family.  I remember in the seminary our professors begging us to not allow or education to end upon ordination.  Has yours?  I am sorry, but reading a periodical about what other people have to say about things rather than actually looking at and studying primary documents is intellectual sloth.  Do we offer adult education classes?  We all bemoan the lack of knowledge of the faith among our parishioners, what are we doing to change that?   Do you study the Scriptures?  Do you soak in the instruction available through the Divine Office?  Why is this important?  You tell your parishioners your faith every time you preach, every time you celebrate Mass.  Our faith or lack thereof can be contagious.  Our response in obedience to faith will either nourish or poison our flocks.

Faith is not easy.  It is a intentional discipline we which cultivate everyday.  As Roman Catholic men, we can ill afford infidelity.  If we are to be the salt in our society that we are called to be, faith is an absolute necessity.

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