Choose a topic from Part 2B:

4. The Virtue of Faith

1. St. Paul (Heb. 11:1) defines faith as "thesubstance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things thatappear not."

2. The act of believing, the act of faith, is the assentof the intellect under the motion of the will; both intellect andwill are involved in the act of faith. But the virtue offaith is a habit of the intellect. Faith thus resides inthe intellect which assents to truth and holds onto itpossessingly. This fact is in no wise affected by the further factthat the intellect was moved to its assent by the will.

3. Whatever gives a thing a determinateness of being iscalled, in the language of philosophy, a form of thatthing. What gives a thing its essential being in itself, is itsintrinsic form; what comes to a thing from outside,lending perfection or effectiveness, is an extrinsic form.Now, the virtue of faith has its intrinsic form in being thehabitual assent of the intellect to truth. But for the virtue offaith to be operative, to be living and active, it must be suffusedwith charity. Hence, it is often said that "charity is theform of faith." Charity is here an extrinsicform.

4. And when charity (which is the grace, love, andfriendship of God) is not in the soul, faith is not operative; itis lifeless; it is without its activating extrinsic form. Suchfaith is called formless. Thus, when a person commits amortal sin, and thereby deprives his soul of charity, he does notlose the faith, but he renders it powerless to get him on toheaven; he renders the faith in him "formless."

5. Faith with its extrinsic form of charity is livingfaith. This is the virtue of faith, that is a habit in aman that serves as the principle of good acts. Lifeless or formlessfaith is not a virtue.

6. Faith in itself is one virtue, and it is also one inits content of truths, that is, in its object. Of course, there isa subjective distinction between John's faith and Richard'sfaith, inasmuch as these are two individual persons, each with hisown faith. But the faith itself is one and the same, whether it bein John or Richard. Says St. Paul (Eph. 4:5): "One Lord, onefaith, one baptism."

7. Living faith is the first of virtues, preceding allothers. As St. Augustine says (Contra Julian. iv), thereare no real virtues unless faith be presupposed. He speaks, ofcourse, of supernatural virtues.

8. Faith gives absolute certitude of the truths believed,because it is a virtue directly infused into the soul by God who istruth itself.

"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Though the path is plain and smooth for people of good will, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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