I have a friend who became an atheist a couple years ago and since then i have become catholic and he asked me “How can I have faith if I dont already have it?” For me I guess everything just happened. I dont know how to answer him. Any suggestions?
I wonder if these would be helpful. There is a book by Albert Nolan called Jesus Today. It goes through some of the problems in society and gives details about the need for a spirituality in this day in age. There is a good article in it about acquiring a sense of wonder about nature.
Or else it might be helpful to tell him something about medjugorjei.e. apparitions, miracles etc.
Faith is a choice for most, and a gift that we all receive in Baptism. You have to decide to act upon the gift of Faith that God is literally hurling at us.
Maybe you could ask him to read up on Blaise Pascal’s Pensées (which is just French for ‘thoughts’). Yes, this is the same mathematical genius whose name we still use to describe a unit of pressure (the pascal, oddly enough!). In his famous “Wager”, he suggests that believing in God gives potentially infinite rewards with relatively nothing to lose. It’s basically a very philosophical and more logical way of asking, “why not?”
I’ll admit that this is a little simplistic, but your friend seems to have a common misunderstanding about faith. God is perfectly willing to give it to him, but he needs to cooperate with His Will by accepting this grace and choosing to believe in God’s promises. Sure there are examples like St. Paul who basically had no choice but to believe, but we shouldn’t be bitter about that - look at what God asked him to do in return (a martyr’s death can’t be pleasant).
When all else fails, just pray for your friend. I know how hard it is to do that (I’m dealing with similar situations in my own life), but it’s up to the Holy Spirit to work conversion in souls.
Edit: If you want to go the apparitions route, I’d suggest sticking to ones that the Church has deemed ‘worthy of belief.’ Yes, many people have experienced conversions from the messages of Medjugorje, but it makes more sense to stick to approved apparitions like Akita and Fatima.
The CCC says:
166 Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the 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.
I think this passage makes clear that faith is a grace of God - we can’t create faith on our own - but we can obtain faith through the hearing and reading of the Word (the gospel) and with prayer and communion with other believers who together form the body of Christ.
In the NT, you will see an examples of men praying to God to strengthen their faith. We can’t earn it or merit it (as it is a grace), but we must accept it and seek it as we seek God.
Salvation begins with faith (without faith, we have nothing), but then we act upon that faith through following Christ’s commandments and participating in the Sacraments (grace) given to the Church by Christ.