I wrote about last weekends readings on Friday and spoke about how James says that faith and works go together and that got me to thinking about faith. What is it? Why do people lose it? Obviously, I can't bring any insight into what faith is that the church fathers, the saints and great theologians haven't already written. Heck-if you want some good in site on faith just look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you look in the index there are ninety four sub-headings under "faith." It speaks of everything from "central mysteries of faith" to "effects of faith" to perseverance in faith." Heck, it even talks about "Muslims and faith in on God." There is so much talk about faith that it could leave your head spinning.
I do think the catechism breaks it down very nicely in paragraphs 1814-1816 though. It defines faith as "the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. (1814 CCC) Very simply--we believe in God and everything that he has taught us because he IS truth. I've actually meditated on this sentence asking for God to help me to believe in him and what he has taught.
The CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) goes on and explains more how faith is more than just a belief--it is a lifestyle. Paragraph 1814 finishes by saying "By faith 'main commits his entire self to God.' For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. 'The righteous shall live by faith. Living faith 'work[s] through charity.'" So if we have faith we are going to completely give everything to God. It's more than a singular moment in time. Having faith is more than a second in time accepting God as your personal Lord and Savior."
Next, the CCC goes on to talk about how we can lose our faith. "The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it. But 'faith apart from works is dead': when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body." (1815 CCC) So if we do not cooperate with faith and not allow it to work through us we can lose it. I don't think this is the only way people lose their faith. I think sometimes God tests our faith in order to strengthen it. Some amazing saints had doubts about their own faith--Bl Mother Theresa for example had doubts. St. Faustina had spells where she felt that she was cut off from God. But they continued their prayer and worked through it.
Finally, the CCC says, "The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: 'All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks." Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: 'So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.'" (1816 CCC) So as believers, part of having faith is professing our faith and bearing witness to it and spreading it.
The question I pose to you is if you claim to have faith are you allowing it to die by not letting it cooperate with hope and love and are you bearing witness to your faith?