Choose a topic from Part 2B:

2. The Internal Act of Faith

1. What we hold by faith, we believe. St.Augustine (De Praedest. Sanct. ii ) says that the verbto believe means "to think with assent." In this definition the verb to think means to inquire mentally and consider what the truth is. Having found, by such consideration, sufficient motive for accepting what is proposed as true, the mind, under command of the will, accepts it without hesitation. And this is belief or faith; rather, it is the internal act of faith. Hence, the internal act of faith is the unhesitant assent of the mind or intellect, under the direction of the will, to truth that is proposed for belief upon sufficient authority. In the case of religious faith, the authority is God, who is truth itself.

2. One and the same act of faith in divine truths involves three things: (a) belief in a God - that is, belief that God exists; (b) believing God - that is, recognizing his word as the truth; (c) belief in God - that is, accepting his word as the rule of life and the way to salvation.

3. For a man to reach heaven, he must accept, and live by, the word of God even as a pupil accepts the word and direction of a good and trusted teacher. And though human reason - the thinking mind - can prove many of the truths that man must know about God, there are other necessary truths beyond the reach of reason which a man must hold by faith in the word of his infallible Teacher.

4. And even the truths that reason can prove in its study of God and divine things are a part of the object of faith. For a man needs to know these truths from his early youth before he has opportunity or ability to think them out. Besides, many men have neither talent nor training for the sustained reasoning needed to think these truths out. And many men are lazy in mind, or are preoccupied with other things, and these men would never study out these necessary truths at all. Moreover, in a long and involved process of reasoning, mistakes are likely to creep in, as is evident from the disputes of scholars. Hence, it is needful that man should have the certitude of God's infallible word for all divine truths, even those naturally knowable, which must be known quickly, clearly, and without error. Now, all truths to beheld on God's authority belong to the object of faith.

5. Faith is not a foggy or general acceptance of truth in bulk. It is explicit and definite in its essential articles. Other points of faith, involved in these articles in an implicit manner, may, in time, be worked out explicitly. Meanwhile, these truths are accepted implicitly by the believer.

6. The simplest man and the most learned scholar hold the same faith. Each person, according to his state and capacity, holds explicit knowledge of the truths of faith. But the explicitness of the scholar's grasp of essential truths is far more detailed than that of the simple-minded man, the young, and less gifted persons. In God's plan, the more learned and enlightened are to teach others; upon these teachers rests the obligation of having a more detailed knowledge than others of the truths of faith which all hold in common.

7. Everyone who is capable of explicit faith must have such faith in Christ as God made man for our salvation, who died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, opening the way thither for mankind.

8. And all must believe explicitly in the Blessed Trinity, one God in three divine Persons, who are really distinct and equal.

9. Since the act of faith is an act of intellect moved bythe will, under influence of grace, to assent fully to divinetruths, it can be a meritorious act. For merit can be gained by anywill-act freely performed with God's grace.

10. Although we accept the truths of faith on God'sauthority, it is right for us to study these truths, to thinkseriously upon them, and to notice how they are in accord withhuman reason. Such study is not a doubting or skeptical inquiry;nor is it a presumptuous summoning of God to the bar of our poorjudgment. Rather, such study is an effort to appreciate the truthsof faith; it indicates our interest in divine truth, and ourdevotion to it. Hence, such study does not decrease, but ratherincreases, the merit of the act of faith.

"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Men should often renew their good resolutions, and not lose heart because they are tempted against them."
St Philip Neri

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