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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Catechism of the Catholic Church – FAITH, Man’s Response to God – CCC 142-184

Catechism of the Catholic Church*
The Profession of Faith
Chapter 3 FAITH, Man’s Response to God
CCC #142-184 A Study

"By his Revelation, the invisible God,
from the fullness of his love,
addresses men as his friends,
and moves among them, in order
to invite and receive them
into his own company.  The adequate response
to this invitation is faith
."  (CCC #142)
In Chapter 3 of the Catechism we will examine the characteristics of faith, as well as man's response to God in faith, from both the personal adherence (obedience), 'I Believe,' and the ecclesial (community of believers and the Church) experience, 'We Believe.'
 I Believe
"Faith is a personal adherence
of the whole man to God who reveals himself.
It involves an assent to the intellect and will
to the self-revelation God has made
through his deeds and words."

"God makes himself known to us through Revelation in order both to give us something and to draw a response from us.  Both this gift of God and our response to his Revelation are called faith.  By faith, we are able to give our minds and hearts to God, to trust in his will, and to follow the direction he gives us.  Saint Paul describes the human response to God's Revelation, in Romans 1:5 and 16:26, as the "obedience of faith."**
"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen
." (Hebrews 11:1)
Obedience of Faith
"To obey in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself...By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. (Genesis 12:1-4) By faith, he lived as a stranger and pilgrim in the promised land. (Genesis 23:4) By faith Sarah was given to conceive the son of the promise.  And by faith Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice. (Genesis 22)
Abraham thus fulfills the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1...The Old Testament is rich in witnesses to this letter of faith...Yet "God had foreseen something better for us":  the grace of believing in his Son Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith." (CCC #144-147, Hebrews 12:2)
In the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, we find the "obedience of faith" in its "most perfect embodiment."  From her initial yes to the Angel Gabriel,  to her witness of her Son's death on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. 
Our faith, our response to God may not be on the same level as Abraham, certainly not Our Blessed Mother, yet our faith is quite complex.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church examines the characteristics of personal faith in paragraph 150-165. 

Characteristics of Faith
Faith, our a personal adherence to God, is a free response of assent to the Revelation of God, trusting completely in all that He reveals in the Trinity of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our faith is only possible by an  interior help given to us by the Holy Spirit who plants the seed of faith within us, nurishing and strengthening our faith bringing us to perfection.  This gift of faith is a divine grace, a supernatural virtue, imposed on us freely by God.

Faith then can be described as a give and take, a communion so to speak, of our human intellect and will freely cooperating with the free gift of divine grace imposed on us by God through the Holy Spirit. Nobody is forced to embrace faith against their will.  At the same time God "never ceases to draw man to himself," (#27) he continually invites us to faith but will never coerce us. 

It is intrinsic to our faith, "written on our hearts" (#27) that we desire to  know and understand God.  The more we put forth in our effort to learn and expand our faith knowledge, the greater the grace given us to even better understand what God has revealed.  Saint Augustine put it this way, "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."

Our faith is a communion with God that develops in stages.  It is a pilgrimage, a journey.  As many of the Saints attest, there may be periods of temptation, worry, doubt and darkness on our journey. But be not afraid; rest assured that God is always near, even in times of darkness.  His Holy Spirit resides in the soul of every baptized Christian and His Son our Lord Jesus is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church.  The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a place I run to quite frequently to be close to My Lord in times of darkness and times of joy.

"The ultimate goal of a life of faith is eternal union with God in heaven.  Through the gift and experience of faith, we are able not only to look ahead to what awaits us, but also to experience here some of God's divine life, "a taste in advance" of our sharing life with him forever."** (CCC #163)

We Believe
"Faith is not an isolated act.
  No one can believe alone...
The believer has received faith
from others and should hand
it on to others...Each believer is
thus a link in a 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...It is through the
Church that we receive faith
and new life in Christ by Baptism
." (#166, 168)

The Catholic Faith, the faith to which we ascribe has been handed down faithfully generation to generation by apostolic succession, guarded by the Magisterium through the Church, "the pillar and foundation of the truth"..."As a mother [the Church] who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith." (1 Timothy 3:15, CCC #77, 85, 171)

As Catholics we call the Church our mother, not in the sense that she is the author of our salvation, but that she is the one who teaches us how to understand the "language of our faith" in the context of how we celebrate in an ecclesial community.

"For though languages differ throughout the world, the contect of the Tradition is one and the same.  The Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of Iberiansm nor those of the Celts, etc...The Church's message is true and solid...and the same...throughout the world."  (#174)

In other words one might find themselves in a church in some foreign land or even in their own community where the language is not their native tongue, yet the Mass will be the same, the message will be the same, God will be the same.

"Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples...guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches, and hands on the faith with an unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth." (Saint Irenaeus)  

I Believe We Believe

"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 #167)

To "believe" is a personal "I", a communion of the free gift of divine grace freely accepted and incorporated into our person through our intellect and will. To “believe” is also an ecclesial “We” with the Church strengthening, sustaining, and nourishing our faith through the Word of God and the sacraments.

Next Section Two - Profession of Faith: Creed
Chapter 1 I Believe in God The Father - CCC #199-354
Paragraph 1 I Believe in One God - CCC #199 - 231

*Catechism of the Catholic Church Vatican site
The Incredulity of Thomas - Caravaggio
**United States Catholic Catechism for Adults page 37, 41
The Sacrifice of Issac - Caravaggio
Annunciation - Bartolome Estaben Murillo
Supper at Emmaus - Caravaggio
Journey to Emmaus - Duccio di Buonisegna
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament - Blessed Sacrament Chapel Carmel
Carmel Mission Basilica
Original Post of Catechism of the Catholic Church with index

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