Faith: What It Is and Is Not

First, what faith is not, in the words of Archbishop Ullathorne: “Faith, then, is not a product of human thought, although just thinking upon God and the soul will lead to faith. It is not the work of imagination or of sentiment. It is not a thinking, but a believing; not an imagining, because the object of faith is independent of the man and is most certain; not a sentiment, but a truth to which the will assents. It is not opinion, for opinion is uncertain and changeable, whilst faith is fixed and unchangeable. When a man says, ‘These are my religious opinions,’ we know he has not faith.” (Groundwork of the Christian Virtues)

And now, what faith is, in Ullathorne’s words: “The manifold providence of God is partly open to natural reason, but the great prospect of that providence awaits our faith. . . . And as the heavens reflect their light upon the earth, so does faith reflect its celestial light upon our less expansive reason. But beyond the luminous sphere of faith there is the infinite sphere of God’s eternal light, from which He sends forth his providential wisdom upon the world and its inhabitants, in secret as well as in open ways, that from what we see we may believe what we do not see, and may venerate the whole providence of God with humility and entrust ourselves to its guidance with faith.” (Endowments of Man)

“Nothing in this world is so marvellous as the transformation that a soul undergoes when the light of faith descends upon the light of reason. It is like the sunlight coming upon the moonlight and dissipating a thousand shadows and delusions.” (Endowments of Man)

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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