The Theological Virtue of Faith

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

Faith is a very rich virtue.  Much like the virtue of charity it has many definitions.  Faith in God means to believe, to trust and to obey Him.  St. Thomas Aquinas calls faith as the door to the spiritual life.  It is the door to our relationship with God.  One of the definitions of faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, “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 his 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 he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature (both humans and created things).”  (CCC 150)

We practice faith in our everyday life and often times we are not aware of it.  We have faith in a jeepney driver that he would drive us safely to our intended destination.  We have faith in a restaurant where we eat, that the food served is safe to consume.  We have faith in our barber or hairdresser, that he or she would cut our hair according to our instructions.  Faith is important in our dealings with others otherwise we would not interact with anyone nor go out of the house anymore because we trust no one.

Faith in God is not just a belief that He exists because even the demons do that.  “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”  (James 2:19) But it is also trusting in God’s goodness who has previously shown love and care for us on many occasions.  And it is continually trusting in Him even at times we could not understand what He does in our lives especially when we suffer because we trust that it is for our good (see Romans 8:28).  Even without the Bible telling us that God is someone who is good, we could ascertain it from the way the universe was created. The universe was made with order, beauty and with provisions to live in it, such as water, the air we breathe, sources of food, etc.  If someone gives you a nice gift or provides you with the basic needs in life you can conclude that this person is good and that he or she loves you and cares for you.

After having trusted God as a Person, it will simply follow that we should also trust His teachings.   Belief in God’s teachings through the Word of God or the Bible for example does not mean we don’t use our intelligence anymore and just accept all His teachings by heart.  An example would be God revealing to us that He is a Being composed of Three Persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit which is something we can analyze, appreciate and later on decide to believe or make an act of faith to believe.   Or God’s teachings on the afterlife of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory that we would have not known unless God revealed these to us.  These teachings are not contrary to reason because they appeal to our intellect precisely because they are reasonable or they make sense and because God is the God of Truth or even more accurately, He is Truth Himself (John 14:6). Nevertheless, it would also mean that we could not totally understand these teachings in complete detail in this life because these are mysteries, and can only be fully understood in the next life.  Faith comes when we trust what we can’t fully know.

Lastly, faith in God also means obedience to Him and to His commandments.  Obedience means our faith is not just in words but most importantly in deeds.  “As the body without spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”  (James 2:26) God’s Ten Commandments and The Beatitudes are an expression of His character.  God’s nature is goodness, kindness, love, justice, mercy, humility, generosity, chastity, etc.  The goal is to become like God through obedience (imitating Christ’s obedience to the Father) so as to share in God’s Divine Life partially here on earth and fully later on in heaven.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1)