Is faith a choice?

#21

So, what is your question about the reality (existence) of God?

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#22

Have you ever served on a jury? When you do, you have to listen to various witnesses testify to the facts as they remember them. You evaluate their credibility–who might have a better memory or who might be lying, etc. Then you decide which witnesses to believe or what parts of their testimony to believe and from that you make a decision as to what the facts are. This is human faith–you didn’t actually witness the events, but you have faith in the testimony of the witnesses.

Divine faith in God is similar, but God is perfectly credibly being perfect good, omniscient, and perfect truth, neither deceiving or being deceived. When we choose to trust in the Word of God, we have faith.

How, since we are weak and wounded we often have difficulty trusting in God. It might seem to hard or with our limited intellect we may not be able to understand why what He says or does is for our ultimate good. But He gives us the grace necessary to have the gift of faith, some at different times than others. Just keep seeking the truth and asking for faith.:slight_smile:

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#23

Yes. Faith is a verb. The initiation of faith, which is HAVING a belief that suggests a hope that one CHOOSES to hold through time is volitional.

One chooses (at least) a belief.
One chooses the hoped for “answer”.
One chooses to hold those things for a time.

But the ability to “hang in there” long enough to have that faith [verb] sufficiently responded to may be a function of one’s innate “pain tolerance”.

Now, why God would have one “wait” longer than one could stand waiting is a bit of a conundrum.

People who have doubts, or are luke warm in their faith are just not trying hard enough? What “homework” will lead me to my faith. If I study the saints…read the bible more diligently…perhpas the papal encyclicals? I dunno…I kind of doubt it.

Your job is to pick a belief you think would be good for you to believe, and believe it in hope of what believing that belief might bring you for a time until you receive “something” that confirms the value of that belief, or you don’t get that confirmation and “give up”.

People who have doubts are usually trying TOO HARD! They are overwhelmed by the possibilities, and don’t give themselves enough “room” to concentrate on a “worthwhile belief” to hold in faithful hope of fulfillment.

…just now that I have begun to look at my faith a bit more critically, ask questions that I never bothered to ask, I find that I have serious doubts.

What do you doubt? Which axiomatic beliefs that you are obliged to hold don’t you hold? Do you know why they are axiomatic, and why you are obliged to hold them?

At this point, I really do think faith is a gift from God…not something you choose.

What does “faith” mean to you?

If it is a “feeling”, then you are not understanding it correctly. :slight_smile:

:shamrock2:

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#24

I am as skeptical as Rico. When you put faith in something it must be based on logic and even experience. Why don’t we pick up dangerous looking hitch hikers? It is because we don’t know this person and we do not have faith that they won’t hurt us. I think only a truly naïve person would indiscriminately choose to give out their faith in anything.

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#25

But religious faith isn’t indiscriminate - one doesn’t just leap into (or at least stay long in) a religion without at least some study of it, without at least a general knowledge of its tenets (and often, if one is really uncertain and searching, the tenets of numerous other faiths as well), and, in the end, agreement with most of them? :confused:

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#26

Tenants are just the man made rules and regulations of the religion. At some point one must have MORE than feeling and have a logical basis for believing as they do. I do not think it is good to only “choose to believe.” One must gather data and arrive at a conclusion based upon good evidence.

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#27

Is there a “class” spouting the need for “evidence” happening this month? There seems to be an awful lot of use of this word these days! :slight_smile:

Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just that there’s a preponderance of people needing evidence for that which evidence is only given after faith is demonstrated around recently.

What is it about the Church, and believing in those things deemed necessary to believe in by her, that isn’t “logical”?

:shamrock2:

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#28

In the words of the Church from the Catechism:

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.(Cf. DV 5.) With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, “the obedience of faith”.(Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:5; ⇒ 16:26)

150 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.(Cf. ⇒ Jer 17:5-6; ⇒ Pss 40:5; ⇒ 146:3-4)

155 In faith, the human intellect and will co-operate with divine grace: “Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.”(St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 2, 9; cf Dei Filius 3; DS 3010.)

156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.(Dei Filius: 3 DS 3008.) So “that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.”(Dei Filius: 3 DS 3009.) Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability “are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all”; they are “motives of credibility” (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is “by no means a blind impulse of the mind”.(Dei Filius: 3: DS 3008-3010; Cf. ⇒ Mk 16 20; ⇒ Heb 2:4)

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#29

For those who convert, I think you are correct. However, for cradle catholics (or cradle baptists, methodists, jews, etc.), our “faith” has been handed down to us as opposed to actively sought…big difference. When following the traditions of our parents, we are far less likey to be discriminating.

–Rico

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#30

I don’t believe that gathering data and evidence is going to end with the gift of faith for the vast majority of us.

From JMJ quote of the catechism:

By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God

Seems the Church thinks the opposite as well…Faith is the surrender of logic, data, and evidence to God’s will. Also, I think someone mentioned earlier in this thread the passage where Jesus says something along the lines of, “your faith must be like that of a child to enter the kingdom of heaven”

I can’t simply choose to do this. (at least with true conviciton). And, to be honest, I don’t think others can either…but that is obviously just speculation:) . With that said, there has been some good advice in this thread, and I appreciate that.

The whole thing seemed so much easier when I really didn’t think about it much…and just kept going the same direction I was going.

–Rico

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#31

Which is why I’m for excommunicating all so-called “cradle Catholics”, as well as the easily identifiable “cafeteria Catholics” who tend to BE “cradle Catholics”, and making them go through RCIA.

(( Though, considering what RCIA is generally like these days… <cough!> ))

Yes, I’m joking… mostly. :slight_smile:

:shamrock2:

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#32

Things have to make sense. As I get older I realize that the things I used to just accept simply do not work in the real world. See my thread “Does Prayer Change Things” where I say that if God is indeed involved in our personal lives as the Bible seems to indicate there should be more real miraculous answers to prayer such as the replacement of severed limbs.

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#33

As you get even older, you’ll see that things that you question simply because you don’t understand them actually do work in the real world.

It’s a very good thing that counter-normal-mechanics-type miracles don’t happen any more than they do. If they did, what would be the result?

People would get lazy, and forget (for a time) why they’re here in this classroom, which would mangle “salvation history” beyond all recognition.

There’s a reason we (humans) don’t “run the universe”. :slight_smile:

:shamrock2:

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#34

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

Also, I think someone mentioned earlier in this thread the passage where Jesus says something along the lines of, “your faith must be like that of a child to enter the kingdom of heaven”

I do not believe that any human being’s faith has been more childlike than Mary’s faith. In the Annunciation, When the Angel Gabriel came over to hear and greeted her saying, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” she was greatly troubled but kept silent. He said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. THe Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end.” She asked how this could be since she was a virgin. He answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. SO the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” ** “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered, “May it be to me as you have said.” ** Then the angel left her."
I do not think I could just believe. I might wonder: Is this a devil, is this God? Is this in my imagination? Is this Angel speaking lies, this can’t happen? So Mary had a **great faith ** and this is one reason why we pray to her in the Rosary. In St. Louis de Montfort’s The Secret of the Rosary, he says say the Come Holy Ghost, prayer so that the Holy Ghost can come to us as it did to Mary ** through the ** intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, his well beloved spouse. Then later we ask, "Oh, Blessed Virgin Mary, we offer thee this Creed in order to honor the faith that thou didst have upon earth and to ask thee to have us share in the same faith.

I can’t simply choose to do this. (at least with true conviction)

God does not ask you to use only your own willpower and conviction to do this. See Mark 9:23, “If you can?” said Jesus, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclained, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” … his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, "This kind can come out **only by prayer. ** We are not God. God does as he wills. We can pray that God will help us but we must realize we are nothing without him so we should not depend on our own strength or our own will for power. Maybe this was why the Jews could not accept Jesus, did they want to see a powerful human being instead of one so submissive to God?

And, to be honest, I don’t think others can either…but that is obviously just speculation.

Rather than looking around at others, maybe we can look at the Saints to see how they gained their great faith.

Polish Saint Maximilian Maria studied philosophy, theology, mathematics, and physics as a college student, before

earning a doctorate in philosophy and a doctorate in theology in ROme, while suffering from tuberculosis. He

became a priest, changed his name to Maria from Kolbe to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, sheltered 2,000 Jews in

his friary during the Holocaust, and when taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp offered to die in place of

another man since that man had family and he did not as an abstinent fiar. During his time in the cell, he led

the men in songs and prayer. Finally, after three weeks of dehydration and starvation, he was injected with

carbolic acid and died. He is reported on the Jewish Virtual Library as Righteous Among the Nations. It shows

that no matter how dire the situation God can continue to strengthen us.

jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Kolbe.html.He founded Slaves of the Immaculata,

www.catholicism.org/maximilian-kolbe.html. The concept of Slaves of Jesus through Mary, which St. Therese of Liseux also was, (she wore an iron chain around her wrist to emphasize that she was a slave of Mary)

comes from St. Louis De Montfort’s book, “True Devotion to Mary.” St. Louis De Montfort also wrote, "The Secret

of the Rosary," which also is highly recommendable.

St. Padre Pio, said, “The Rosary is THE weapon.” Sometimes he prayed as many as 90 rosaries a day.

St. Dominic did nothing but preach the rosary.

St. Francis of Assisi, lived in holy poverty, but I believe that he also spread devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception. JREducation can correct me if I am wrong on St. Francis of Assisi as he knows so much about St. Francis.

Of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary did appear to St. Francis, St. Dominic, and St. Maximilian Maria (I do not know about the others), but we have the apparations at Fatima, witnessed by 70,000 people and written about in the New York Times and Newsweek as well as the testimony of the saints as our own apparitions. Didn’t Jesus say to doubting Thomas that “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”

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#35

The whole thing seemed so much easier when I really didn’t think about it much…and just kept going the same direction I was going.

I truly sympathize with you here. Life seemed easier, but perhaps less joyous, when I knew little about the Cross and what it truly mean to love the Lord your God will all your heart, mind, and soul, not saying I know a lot now. But Jesus says we will have eternal joy and many mansions in heaven, so perhaps the burden is worth it, and St. Louis de Montfort writes that Mary gives us a Cross if we are devoted to Her. In fact, the whole Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are devoted to the Cross, but that she is the sweetness of the Cross, and helps us to be happy carrying it. Remember, Mary in the Visitation, helped St. Elizabeth without even St. Elizabeth’s requests, in the Wedding at Cana, she helped the wedding guests without their requests so wonderfully that the master of the banquet thought the bridegroom had saved the best of the wine until the last, at the Crucifixion, stayed with Jesus until the end as almost all of his disciples fleed, and at the Coronation, was crowed Queen of Heaven and Earth. I am sure the Queen of Heaven and Earth can help you as she helped St. Elizabeth and the wedding guests and even Jesus, as she mothered him without sin, if you only ask her.

Remember, on the Rosary, St. Louis De Montfort, who influenced 4 popes, and is being considered as a Doctor of the Church, said that after the Holy Eucharist, the Rosary is the most important. And Pope Piux IX said, “Among all the devotions approved by the Church, none has been favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary.” And I do not know the exact quote, but our current Pope said that - earlier in life, he thought praise of Mary was too extreme, but now he believes that one cannot venerate her enough.

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

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#36

No, if anything experience means you use less wishful thinking.

Wow…”counter-normal-mechanics”… I like that phrase. However, I think your premise is erroneous. ANY intervention in our lives by a super-natural being like the creator of the universe is, by definition, a miracle. If God gets someone a job they normally would not have, or heals a cancerous tumor that would have been fatal it is ALL miraculous. A miracle is a miracle.

If God is indeed in the miracle giving business there is no reason we should not see the occasional arm, leg, or even a digit or two grow back where once was none.

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#37

This is another thing that bothers me. Anyone who has seen God himself or even some winged angel suddenly appear out of no where would be a foolish not to believe in a miracle. In the Old Testament Moses would have direct talks with God. The Jews saw the waters part and manna fall from heaven. Anyone looking at these events must conclude that a supernatural being is at work. Such things no longer happen. Christians seem to ignore that things have, for some unknown reason, changed.

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#38

And it isn’t wishful thinking, but demonstrated effectiveness with real-world problems that being a devout Catholic helps one with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAndDogs View Post
It’s a very good thing that counter-normal-mechanics-type miracles don’t happen any more than they do.

Wow…”counter-normal-mechanics”… I like that phrase. However, I think your premise is erroneous. ANY intervention in our lives by a super-natural being like the creator of the universe is, by definition, a miracle. If God gets someone a job they normally would not have, or heals a cancerous tumor that would have been fatal it is ALL miraculous. A miracle is a miracle.

If God is indeed in the miracle giving business there is no reason we should not see the occasional arm, leg, or even a digit or two grow back where once was none.

If I told you that my arm, after being amputated 3 years ago, had grown back this afternoon, what effect would that have on you?

These days, a slew of scientists would be called in, each with worldwide media connections, and if my miracle was proved to be actually true then God would be absolutely affirmed, right?

Wrong.

We wouldn’t know who, or what, the cause of the miracle was, and therefore couldn’t SCIENTIFICALLY attribute it to God. It might be the work of Satan, or some other power that we don’t SCIENTIFICALLY know about.

The point is that an “actual 100% scientifically proven as certain” miracle would simply show that the laws of nature occasionally are “overridden” by “something”, and that’s it.

Now, if that were useful knowledge for mankind to have, then God would do that.

Apparently, that’s not useful knowledge for mankind to have, so God doesn’t do that.

Now, localized “unscientific” miracles have a different purpose than to prove that the laws of nature are occasionally overridden. They happen to give people faith that that is a possibility, and give others the opportunity to trust those who have witnessed such actual miracles of the power of God.

Atheists want to not have faith, but abject total certainty. That is what God is “testing” them on. They are being given the opportunity to have faith, by choosing to have faith. Those who don’t, because they won’t, flunk.

As we get older we get more experienced at experiencing the world, and the more subtle kinds of experience are more easily discerned. One of those more subtle experiences is “religious experience”, and the amount of energy that one needs to expend to “not see” the existence of that experience as one gets older, becomes greater and greater, and if continued habitually for long enough, is the very definition of hell on earth (followed rather rapidly by hell for eternity).

:shamrock2:

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#39

Kuzushi:

I think you and I are in the same boat. I read your thread about prayers being answered, and I think the same way you. Your point is perfectly reasonable, but I don’t think anyone really wants to entertain the notion.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather not be in this boat.

I have two comments about this:

  1. Fatima. How do you explain the “miracle(s)” of Fatima. I have only have a cursory knowledge of the event…but I am curious as to your thoughts.

  2. I half-joke with my Catholic friends that I am not all that impressed with the lives of saints who have experienced the certain supernatural power of God. I can only imagine that if I were to experience such an event, that my life would not even closely resemble what it is today…and even I, doubting Rico, would live a life worthy of sainthood?:smiley:

–Rico

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#40

Those miracles were widely spaced out. Just as you don’t believe people who say they’ve experienced “incredible things”, those who weren’t eyewitnesses to those miracles rather easily dismissed them coming from those who were, who were mostly dead and referenced only in writings.

Miracles do happen, though it doesn’t suit God to “part waters” and the like anymore, for whatever reason. Although, there do seem to have been a few big ones relatively recently.

People are amazingly good at “denial”, even when they are first hand witnesses to seemingly incredible events.

If you really want proof that believing as a Catholic believes is a worthy thing to do (which means to know God as God), then the only way to get that proof is to believe as a Catholic believes.

Those who aren’t “up to that” are choosing not to get the proof they say they want, which is to say that they never were actually interested in getting that proof, and are simply lying, for some reason, about their interest in God.

:shamrock2:

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