How is faith a gift from God?

Faith is a theological virtue, which along with hope and charity, is a gift from God. But how is this so?

Supposedly, theological virtues—unlike the human virtues—are not acquired through human effort. Rather, they are “infused” in us.

So, some questions:

*]If every human being is infused with faith, why don’t atheists believe in God? Are they just not using the gift?
*]If faith involves the intellect (and we Catholics believe it does), then how is there no effort? What if a atheist badly wants to believe and tries to? Does his effort account for nothing? What if his reading arguments for God’s existence cause him to believe?

I wound’t say they are infused in us but rather they are grafted in us. It is like this. You see the stars with your own eyes but you only see a very small percentage of what is out there. When you take a look with binoculars and telescopes you see a way lot more. God uses faith like a binocular or telescope. You begin to see more with faith, you begin to understand God with faith. It always starts small like the stars we see but unless we want to see it through the tools which God gives it will not grow. Faith said the Rev. Martin Luther King was like taking the first step without seeing the whole staircase. The point though is to get on that step. Without taking this step you might as well forget it. God gives everyone this potential to take that first step. In certainty the faith which is there must have you work with it. This is the gift which God gives to us. We all have this potential built inside us to know more. The problem though is we ignore this gift. We put it aside or we take other tools which will not help us. The best avenue to build up this faith is of course the Church. The Church enables us with the right tools to begin to grow in faith to take that first step into the second step. The Holy Spirit as well will help us to increase this faith in us by “grafting” into us this love which we call “agape” because it is this love which will increase our longing to take more steps. Faith then must involve a journey, a journey that starts small but enlarges into something bigger. Jesus talks about this when He uses mustard seeds as an example of what this faith can do. Start small says Jesus meaning to take that first step. What Jesus is trying to say is to start somewhere. It is all there in front of you but you have to begin in small steps for it to become realized.

Faith is called an infused virtue because it cannot be acquired through our efforts alone, aided by grace. Whoever seeks the truth will find it, because God is Truth, and whoever seeks God can only do so by an effect of His grace.

God offers graces to everyone; if we cooperate, we will receive Faith. The intellect still plays a part, but it is inferior to faith, which elevates our faculty of reason, enabling us to perceive spiritual truths with greater clarity.

Many have converted to Catholicism for what appear to be intellectual reasons, but conversion is fundamentally a movement of the will towards God, Who enlightens our intellect and our hearts.

Every good thing you have is a gift from God. When you change your mind to the gift is what doesn’t come from God.:slight_smile:

So…is faith still considered a theological virtue by the religious if someone has faith in the “wrong” religion or “wrong” god?

I myself wouldn’t call faith a theological virtue…rather, a theological requirement.

I also wouldn’t say that it is “infused” in us, but rather…it is a product of both biology and environment…one’s personality and experiences.

And…I also wouldn’t say it requires “no human effort”:
People who go to church frequently and read their religion’s scriptures frequently and make it a point to pray a lot, etc, etc, are putting a *conscious effort *into their faith…all these actions help keep their faith intact in the same was daily exercise keeps the body muscles strong. I assume religions demand this constant tending in order to keep the faith going.
I see people on this forum all the time advise others not to go onto sites that question one’s faith for fear it will jar them.
It seems to take human effort to keep one’s faith.

1-Most Atheists would call “faith” in a religion a harmful thing, not a gift…because it would mean to them that a person is believing in something even if the evidence is not there. Some people are more wired to believe with less evidence, some are not.
Most Atheists use reason and facts over “faith” to decide if something is true or not.
And, of course…there is debate among many whether something is fact or not.

  1. There are many Atheists who have tried very hard to have faith, but still do not. I’d say there are many Theists who try very hard but have trouble, and then they leave their faith…or they pretend to believe. Many of them write about it on this forum.
    But if you don’t believe something, you just don’t believe it. Is one supposed to pretend? Or try and trick themselves? No.
    Many Atheists, including the Dawkins-Hitchens group, have often said that if they at any point see evidence for a god that is convincing, they would believe.


Could you please explain this “grace” to me? What is it? How does anyone find out if one has “grace”?

Faith is simple. It is accepting the validity of something for which there is no sufficient evidence. It covers a whole range of beliefs, from something that is almost (but not quite) certain all the way to a belief, which has no evidence at all. Moreover there are beliefs, which not only have no evidence, but all the evidence points to the other direction. Of course “sufficient” evidence is highly subjective. Something that one person considers “sufficient”, others might call woefully lacking.

This reminds me of Luther’s expression: “Reason must be trampled underfoot” and “reason must be made the handmaiden of faith”. Not an attitude that I would “respect”.

As with any gift, faith can be rejected- or thrown away after received. So, as the catechism teaches, man is not passive in his being justified by God; our will is involved. Grace, in Catholic theology is alway resistible. And we’re judged on what we’ve done with what we’ve been given-the basic message of the Parable of the Talents-and Luke 12:48.

Faith, the theological virtue, along with hope and charity, is not infused into everyone. It is granted when the Holy Spirit is granted (in your Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation - granted by the priest / bishop).

Faith, thus granted, is a part of “Sanctifying Grace”, where God gives to you (with the indwelling Holy Spirit) what you need to be Good and Do Good (and thus be suitable to be in the presence of God, for “you must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”.

Faith is a virtue, a supernatural virtue, only present in the friends of God in whom the Spirit dwells, as in a temple. Where there is no friendship and love of God, there is no faith.

As a virtue, Faith is a “Habit” - it is a “knowing how and what to do” in situations where a person is resolved “I am going to do this thing virtuously”, with a glint of happiness in his eye. The glint of happiness is knowing that he is a son of his Father, and a brother of his Lord, with the same Spirit of Love which they both breathe out to him.

We can do everything we do every day virtuously, because of this Grace that infuses every bit of our soul, as our soul infuses every bit of our bodies. We are his sons and daughters, with the guarantee of our life in Him, which guarantee is the Holy Spirit.

Faith, along with the other virtues of Sanctifying Grace is present wherever his Spirit resides. And his Spirit is given in Baptism, sealing you as his own, as a citizen of the Kingdom he established with the Baptism of Jesus as the King of this Kingdom. Are you Baptized? You are a citizen of this Kingdom, of which Jesus is the Lord, the King, and you were marked with the mark of citizenship, just as you carry your social security card as a mark of US Citizenship (if you live in the US).

Where is the effort? The effort is that what God saw we needed was not “fixing us to be unable to sin”. His idea of what we needed was virtues, habits, where we would have the “tools” to be like Him, doing good through our wills, rather than doing good without knowing that we were willing something difficult. So, now, knowing we are his children, alive, and knowing we have virtues, habits of Faith, Hope, Charity, knowing this we can take it seriously and conclude within ourselves, “I am going to drive virtuously”, “I am going to talk with my wife virtuously”, “I am going to eat this meal virtuously”, “I am going to worship at Mass virtuously”, “I am going to walk my dog virtuously”, “I am going to play with my daughter virtuously”, “I am going to pray this morning virtuously”, “I am going to treat my co-worker virtuously”, “I am going to shop virtuously in this store”, etc. - every doing that we are about to do, we can look at and conclude (because of who we are as our Father’s children) - we can conclude, “I am going to do this virtuously”, with a sparkle in the eye, the sparkle of gladness.

When you do this, appetites get suppressed, which is the work, the effort. You see something appetizing and your feet turn slightly in that direction, preparing you to grab at the thing. Then, because you knew you were going to do your doing virtuously, your feet begin to turn away from the “treat”, and you walk on by, with a touch of sadness - your appetite is crying.

Replace the word “grace” with “love” and the same problems arise.

Grace is a spiritual reality, created by God. It is a participation in the Divine Nature, allowing us to seek the truth, to love etc. “Whatever is moved is moved by another.” This is particularly true of the movement towards God, Who is infinitely above us.

We all have faith that the universe is intelligible. This cannot be demonstrated without first assuming the fact. Faith accepts our limitations. We are not infallible, so I won’t argue that my faith is infallible. But if God is infallible, then my faith is well-placed. Better to put my faith in Jesus than myself - especially considering that there are many reasons for believing that He is Who He said He was (testimony, miracles etc.).

From what I can see, faith does not contradict reason.

There is no problem with “love”. Love is a positive emotion, which MUST be reflected in ACTIONS, otherwise it is just an empty word. Now it is possible that one can be kind, helpful or benevolent without having any feelings or emotions. A robot would fulfill this criterion, it would exhibit all the necessary signs of “love”, without the emotional underpinning. And that would be perfectly fine by me. The “internal workings” of a human are hidden from me, just like the “internal workings” of a robot would be.

A human might be kind, helpful and benevolent and “hate me”, but would be motivated by gaining social status, or might wish to feel good about himself… that is perfectly possible. But I would not care about his motivations… why would I? I have no way to know what those motivations are. The act is what matters, not the motivation, as long as the act is benevolent. (For a malevolent action the intent would be important, but that is a whole different ballgame.)

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about. Can you explain it? I can see if a person “loves” me, by observing their actions. If those actions are benevolent, if they are helpful then my conclusion is that they are motivated by this “positive emotion called love”. Maybe they are motivated by compassion, or kindness, but these are of the same family of emotions. This “love” can be observed, can be measured, precisely because it is expressed in ACTIONS.

I have no idea what kind of signs could be interpreted to show this “grace”.

“Love is a positive emotion, which MUST be reflected in ACTIONS…”

You cannot “see” if a person loves you by observing their actions, unless you reduce love to said actions. But you just said that love is an emotion, and emotions are not observable (I can smile when I’m angry, for example).

How does an emotion produce actions?

Grace perfects nature; so, when you see someone doing good, it is an effect of grace. You will disagree with this, of course, but it all hinges on the existence of God and the soul, which you don’t appear to accept. I apologise, but am not particularly interested at this point in arguing such matters. I am spending too much time on here as it is!

Correct. But if someone is approaching you with an axe in his hand and screams that he will kill you, that is a rather convincing indication that he does not have your personal well-being in his mind.

If you ever felt love toward someone, you would know that the love will “urge” you to express it. Just to give a hug, or help when necessary… simple, everyday actions.

Are animals also “infused” with this mysterious “grace”, (whatever that might be) when they exhibit “good” behavior toward others? And they do, you know.

If you don’t wish to participate, that is quite all right. I was simply curious, if this word “grace” has any meaning. Looks like it is just another meaningless utterance. No surprise there. Thanks for your contribution. Have fun and see you around. Best wishes.

Correct. But if someone is approaching you with an axe in his hand and screams that he will kill you, that is a rather convincing indication that he does not have your personal well-being in his mind.

I agree. But if said person were (hypothetically) controlled by a remote, I wouldn’t consider their action hateful, any more than I would consider the axe hateful. So love must be an act of the will, too; it must be free.

If you ever felt love toward someone, you would know that the love will “urge” you to express it. Just to give a hug, or help when necessary… simple, everyday actions.

I agree with that. But I don’t think the emotion causes the act; the will does, irrespective of - although, often influenced by - feelings.

Are animals also “infused” with this mysterious “grace”, (whatever that might be) when they exhibit “good” behavior toward others? And they do, you know.

Grace strengthens the will. I don’t believe that animals have free will, so I don’t believe that they can receive grace.

If you don’t wish to participate, that is quite all right. I was simply curious, if this word “grace” has any meaning. Looks like it is just another meaningless utterance. No surprise there. Thanks for your contribution. Have fun and see you around. Best wishes.

Grace is the life of the soul, in a sense. It cannot be observed, save by its effects, just as a person is deemed to be alive when they exhibit certain signs of life. It is difficult to explain life in physical terms without encountering the zombie argument etc.

I might contribute more, later. All the best!

Faith, hope, and love are infused into the soul - that is what Grace is. That is what God gives to you via his people when they grant you membership in his people at Baptism.

Like Nicodemus, in the third chapter of John’s Gospel, you are unable to comprehend this “spiritual thing” of Grace, because you do not grasp on to the earthly thing (that you must be given something by real, physical, people to your real, physical body - you must be Baptized by the Church where they give you something you cannot see or feel [the Holy Spirit] along with what you can see and feel [water on your head as they Baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit])

We talk about sanctifying grace because we use it everyday, doing all our doings virtuously, as written earlier. You do not know what Grace is when we talk about it because you do not know the gift of God or don’t take the Church’s word literally that you are given Grace when Baptized. So, if you have been baptized, you are not taking the Church seriously and using the Grace given, by saying and doing “I am going to do this doing of mine virtuously”. If you have not been baptized, and you begin to do your doings “I am going to do this doing virtuously”, then in short order you will come to the Church asking to be Baptized, to be granted citizenship in the People of God and given this additional Grace, these supernatural virtues, so that you can do things supernaturally virtuously.

Pallas Athene,

Only by faith in Jesus Christ is a man made holy in God’s sight. No observance of the law can achieve this (Galatians 2:16).

God has revealed to us his only beloved Son. Faith, the gift, makes us aware of this and makes acceptance of Jesus possible. Logic of itself cannot make that leap to see this.

Jesus asked Peter, who do you believe I am. And Peter replied, the son of God. Then Jesus said, that his Father in heaven revealed this to him and that is how Peter knew it. Something takes place in the soul of a person which gives them the ability to acknowledge Jesus as God.

It is faith which then brings them to be baptized in water and the Spirit … to be born again … of God, as Jesus told Nichodemus. And this is how a man is made holy in God’s sight…to become a child of God’s. Which is what Paul expresses when he says Abba, Father.

This reminds me of an old joke.
In Seattle there is a thick fog, and the pilot of a small plane is lost in the sky. He sees a tall building, and a man in an open window. He shouts to the man: “where am I?”. The man answers: “you are in the cockpit of a small plane”. Whereupon the pilot nods, changes course and lands safely on the closest airport. The passengers ask him how did he know where the airport was. The pilot answers: “Well I asked a simple question, and he gave me a correct, yet totally meaningless answer. So I knew that he must be a Microsoft programmer, who is responsible for writing the error messages. And since I knew where the airport lies from the building, it was easy to find it.”

I hope you see the analogy. Pretty much everything that we do is the result of a decision. The exceptions are the reflexive movements. When we express love, hate, or any neutral feeling, all are the result of a “will”. So to say that “love is an act of will” may be correct, but just as uninformative as the “you are in the cockpit of a small plane”.

The primary cause is the emotion, or feeling, which does NOT reside in conscious (the grey cells). The secondary cause comes from a decision to act a certain way, which may or may not be a “conscious decision”.

To pursue this we would need to find out what is your understanding of “free will”.

And the best to you, too. :slight_smile:

Wait, hold on…but don’t adult people have faith before they are baptized? That’s why they are getting baptized in the first place!

Yes, faith precedes baptism for an adult. Baptism is known as the “sacrament of faith” because it’s the first formal public profession of faith- in response to Jesus’s command. And the faith of family and community stand in for the faith of the child in the case of infant baptism. And yet we believe that faith, hope, and charity are all infused as never before with the gift of baptism, where we’re washed cleaned first of all, then filled with sanctifying grace.

So what you’re saying is, Before baptism we have faith, but then after baptism we get a strong infusion of extra faith?

Luther overreacted a lot! His second statement is better. Handmaiden = faithful collaborator.

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