Faith and Piety Working Together

Father Guibert explains: “Without the faith the present life is to us no more than a dark prison, and an enclosed field in which we engage in struggles that have no meaning. To him who has no outlook on eternity, and on a hereafter in which life may find its fulfilment and reward, the present life is an inexplicable enigma.”

“As soon as faith is wanting, hope is wanting; but even if you have lost hope and are immured in the present, you have not succeeded in getting rid of eternity; it remains a possibility. . . . You who do not believe in it lose all, since you run the risks of that eternity which perhaps exists, and since you spoil the present by ruining the vigour of resolution that the thought of eternity imparts to believers.”

“Even in this life faith begins the happiness of the believer. It gives his mind peace as to questions of destiny that are a perpetual anguish to the human heart. With faith a man can ignore accidental things, for at least he knows what is essential, he knows himself; he knows what he is, whence he comes, and whither he is going. This knowledge ennobles him in the sight of his own conscience. . . . Thanks to faith, he has the courage to fight against his evil instincts, and he bears suffering with patience, for he knows that his struggles with his passions or with suffering will meet with an eternal recompense hereafter. Furthermore, in this hand-to-hand contest with evil and suffering, he feels that he is not alone, for the cry then uttered by his faith obtains for him—he does not doubt it—an endowment of strength from on high.”

“Since he is thoroughly persuaded that nothing better withstands morbid influences than a stoutly constituted temperament, he stirs up his faith by means of a religion that is fully alive. He knows the mutual reactions of piety and faith upon each other; he knows that, if piety springs from faith, the breath of piety arouses and develops faith. He prays that he may believe better. In the same way, he fosters his faith by religious studies well planned. He knows that, if he feeds his mind on thoughts which are foreign or hurtful to faith, he will end by enervating or poisoning it; and this is why he takes pleasure in Holy Scripture and in the writings of religious authors, and in the science of theology. . . . He keeps intact the source of his piety; and his faith, preserved in its purity, enables his interior life to grow in intensity, and to be manifested outwardly in visible actions.”

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

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