Saturday, October 13, 2012

Faith as a Virtue

Since we just started the year of faith, I'd like to consider how faith is a virtue. As a virtue, it helps us become holy. St. Thomas begins with faith when he writes about the virtues in the Summa Theologiae. His moral teaching is so positive because he centers it around virtue, not sin (though he certainly deals with sin as well).

Faith is the foundation of all the other virtues. It's given as a gift with baptism, and once we are baptized we can never lose it--unless we commit a sin directly against faith. Even if a person commits other serious (mortal) sins and loses the life of sanctifying grace, the virtue of faith remains (along with hope). However, without grace it's not a living faith. But we still need it, because it enables us to come back to God. If we lost faith with every sin, how could we ever repent?

It seems to me that people don't think about faith as a virtue. Today, it seems that even many Catholics regard faith as something we do. In other words, that it's up to us to decide whether or not we will believe, what we will believe, etc. Since we're living in an age of relativism, it's easy to lose our bearings. But faith keeps us moored in Christ. Faith is a gift of God and is based on God himself.

An enriched understanding of faith as a virtue can revitalize our faith. So I'm hoping to do some posts on what St. Thomas teaches about faith precisely as a virtue, and what that means in our everyday life.


Ruth Ann Pilney said...

Yes, I notice, too, how Catholics and others don't seem to appreciate that faith is a virtue, and also how to nourish it.

I have read elsewhere that faith is also and act in the sense of being one's response to revelation.

I look forward to your future posts about faith.

Anonymous said...

I thought love is the foundation of all the virtues, and that hope is just as important as faith, perhaps, hope even precedes faith where God imbues the soul with unique personality (hope) when the soul is first created by God.
"Faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love"
Ed (UK)

Ruth Ann Pilney said...

Hello, Sister Lorraine! I do HOPE that you will be able to write more about FAITH. I would love it.