Divine Intimacy § 241: “Faith”

Divine Intimacy § 241 is titled “Faith”.
The following reflection is based upon Father Gabriel’s meditation:

Faith, like hope and caritas, is called a “theological” virtue because “God” is the virtue’s object.  But faith and hope differ from caritas in one important regard.  To get at this difference, we can appropriate terms from the field of language.

In English, we have what are called a “direct object” and an “indirect object”.  We might use those same terms, in a different sense, to describe the theological virtues.  Faith and hope have God as their indirect object, because faith and hope direct us to God who is at a distance.  If we make it to Heaven, we will no longer need faith or hope there.  But in the virtue of caritas—that is, divine love—God is the direct object of the virtue, because God is love.  If we make it to Heaven, caritas will be the center, the focus, the “all” of our life there, where we will see God directly.

So we cannot reflect upon the theological virtue of faith, without at the same time reflecting upon the divine love of caritas.  Father Gabriel is straightforward in describing faith’s goal:  “Faith allows us to share [God’s] life of knowledge, and charity, His life of love.”

The problem that many Christians have, though, is not a lack of faith, but weak faith, just as we lack not love, but fervent love.  Like the father of the possessed boy in St. Mark’s narrative, we cry:  “I do believe, help my unbelief!”[1]  Father Gabriel explains our problem to be that our faith “is not sufficiently alive and practical to make us see God in everything and over everything, thus giving us the sense of His essential, transcendent, and eternal reality, which infinitely surpasses all the immediate, contingent, and passing realities of this life.”

One of my spiritual directors in the seminary had a maxim that he repeated often, both in private direction and from the pulpit.  “You love people to faith; you love people to hope, and you love people to love.”  So if we believe, but need the Lord’s help with our unbelief, then the help that Christ offers us is His own love.  Accepting that love from Him, we need in turn to extend that love to others.  Within this dynamic of accepting and extending divine love, our own faith will grow.

[1] Mark 9:24.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen 001

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