“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Now during the school year I don’t get a ton of time to be outdoors, but I love going hiking and I took this picture on my first outdoor adventure of the summer (YAY!) to a canal near my house. What I loved about the picture is that even though I couldn’t capture the crazy wind that was happening at the time, you can see the effects of the wind on the water really clearly. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
This section of the Catechism really grapples with all of our preconceived notions of what faith is. To some faith is hoping in something completely ridiculous, unknown, unscientific, and illogical. However, I’d like to offer a separate viewpoint.
First of all, yes. Do some research on any saint and you will find that almost every single saint had moments when he or she struggled with his or her faith–wondering about the things unseen and feeling abandoned by God. Yet, they continued to believe because there is a need in humans for some greater beauty, meaning, love, and truth and some being that encompasses all of those things. Even though you cannot see the wind in the picture, it does not mean it is not there; even the water can’t help but reflect the power of the wind, just as all sorts of things here on Earth reflect God’s grace.
Now that we’ve established that baseline, I picked some parts of this section that I felt were most important to my faith and that I hope will help you in whatever you might be struggling with. And that helped me in realizing that faith is not illogical, not unscientific, and not hopeless day-dreaming.
1st) “I believe in order to understand and I understand the better to believe” — St. Augustine
Faith and reason, logic, science work together because “Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth” (Catechism, Part 1, Chapter 3, 159) Just as the ism goes, God created the dirt, dirt don’t hurt. Well, maybe don’t go about swallowing tons of dirt, but the point is God created the Earth and the human mind and so naturally (no pun intended, although I’m pretty proud of myself for that one) science and logic reflect and point to God’s existence.
2nd) Faith is a human act — “Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another. If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to “yield by faith the full submission of…intellect and will to God who reveals” and to share in an interior communion with him.” (C, 154) Our whole being reflects God and a desire for relationship with God. In just this manner, to truly be in relationship with God, we have to offer up all of ourself, rather than separating our “religious” life to times when we are at mass. “Jesus himself affirms that God is “the one Lord” whom you must love “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (C, 202)
3rd) God is mysterious, above all that we can readily see and understand, and is infinitely faithful. This is shown in the name He gives to Moses “I am who am” — His love is without end throughout all time as He always is. And He makes Himself present to all people at all times:”To disclose one’s name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally.” (C, 203)
Lastly, God is all powerful and nothing is impossible with God. We see this in the mystery of the Trinity that we profess each time we make the sign of the cross and in the mystery of the incarnation. Mary’s faith in God points to this as she trusted that nothing would be impossible with God. This section ends with a thought-provoking question, which challenges you to really think about what are the words we say every mass or every time we make the sign of the cross:
If we do not believe that God’s love is almighty, how can we believe that the Father could create us, the Son redeem us, and the Holy Spirit sanctify us? (C, 278)
All of the time, friends and family members ask me for prayers and at times I’ve felt discouraged about what the role of prayer even is. Yet, if I truly believe in the existence of God, if I truly believe in Christ, the existence of both of which are incredibly miraculous and mysterious, then I know and can trust that prayers are powerful. And I can know not to lose hope even in difficult situations, when it seems all hope is lost.