Piety Presupposes Faith

Father Guibert writes: “Everything in piety presupposes faith. He who prays abides in the presence of God, and converses with God; he gives ear to His words, reveals to Him his heart’s desires, and enters into engagements with Him. But God does not make Himself perceptible to the eyes of man; faith alone can call Him forth and realize His presence as an indisputable fact.”

“The life of piety cannot breathe except in the divine atmosphere of faith. If faith disappears, piety immediately dies, because it no longer has an environment in which it can exist. If faith languishes or diminishes in purity, piety suffers a like decadence, and withers like a plant deprived of air and light; but if faith increases in intensity, piety revives, and blossoms and bears fruit.”

“If piety so far depends upon faith, whoever earnestly wishes to be pious must be earnest in keeping and strengthening his faith. Amongst all our favourite prayers, we should often repeat that of the Apostles, ‘Lord, increase our faith’ (Lk 17:5), or that of the humble centurion: ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief’ (Mk 9:24).”

“Faith is a favour of God; it is He who gives and preserves it. Nevertheless, man has his part in it: he obtains it by good-will, and keeps it by prudence. As soon as he draws it to him by his good desires, it is on the threshold of his soul; and if he keeps a jealous watch over it, he preserves it from all harm, and in this way, without ceasing to be God’s gift, faith becomes a trophy of man’s. Faith, as the source of Christian life, must, then, be the object of constant solicitude on our part.”

“Regarded from within, faith is a motion of the soul towards God, an impulse of our whole being towards our Creator, an inspiration towards the light that emanates from this divine source, towards the moral strength of which He is the centre, and towards the happiness whose treasures are contained in Him. Thus understood, faith is an endeavour towards the Omnipotent, both to present to Him the homage of a creature that is dependent upon Him, and also to tell Him of the needs of a being who feels his own weakness.”

“But the human soul, under the impulse of faith, does not cast itself into the void. . . . The soul only strives towards a definite object, which it holds to be really existing, and which it would embrace. This object is contained in the Creed that it confesses.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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