AN ACT OF FAITH
Do you know you’ve been given a very special gift? It’s faith! The Act of Faith prayer captures its essence. With faith God gives each of us supernatural grace to trust in Him and in His word completely.
We give Him our will and intellect so as to better love Him, as Jesus commanded us, with all our heart, soul and mind.
Doesn’t it feel good when you know can count on someone when they give you their word? Well, God has given us His word, as truth! (His word even became flesh in the person of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ!)
In faith we trust in Him not blindly but with confidence that in a world full of falsehoods, He’s the real deal! The Act of Faith prayer printed below acknowledges this. It can help recharge your spiritual batteries.
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths the Holy Catholic Church teaches because You have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
(Note that in many prayer books the Act of Faith prayer is called simply "An Act of Faith.")
The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the gift of faith essential for our salvation. After all, as St. Paul once noted, how can we please God (and one day share eternal life with Him!) if we don’t believe in Him and in His word? Our Creator calls each of us to be with Him but we must answer. Faith is like a wonderful flower that needs to be nurtured every day.
We can keep our faith strong though prayers, the sacraments, studying God’s word in scripture and in commentary, and in letting His love shine through us in our day-to-day lives. Even the smallest chore we do can be done as an act of faith if we’re trying to do God’s will!
God in His generosity has given us two other gifts to help us with our faith, those of hope and love. All three are called theological virtues, each with its own prayer.
In the Gospels, our Lord was constantly stressing the importance of faith in Him. In Matthew 17:19, He noted that even faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains! He inspired all of us Doubting Thomases when He told the original one, His apostle Thomas, after His resurrection: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Still, sometimes it’s easier to believe in God than to trust in Him and ask for His guidance each day. How many control freaks do you know? Do you see one in the mirror?
Jesus addressed us all, “O you of little faith,” in the Sermon on the Mount when He asked his listeners to “seek first the kingdom of God and his justice and all these things [our daily needs] shall be given you” (Matt 6:33).
Faith in God doesn’t guarantee us a free ride in this world, by any means! Yet how many times have you seen on TV (or read in newspapers) stories about families beset by accidents, illnesses or other major disruptions in their lives who say that their faith in God pulled them through?
Many of the Church’s great saints (as well as our Lord on the Cross!) experienced times of spiritual dryness or despair, feeling that perhaps
God had abandoned them, or that their efforts were all for nothing. Yet their unconditional faith and love for God sustained them like a light shining through the darkness.
Remember that just as God is light and truth, Satan, “the father of lies,”
as Jesus called him in John 8:44, tries to snare us with temptations into darkness and despair.
Tragically, along these lines, our lack of faith contributes to most of the chaos and carnage we see on TV or read about these days. Yet Jesus himself said that “he who follows me does not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
The Act of Faith’s reference to truths brings to mind some poignant
Gospel passages: Jesus calls Himself “the way, the truth and the life”
in John 14:6.
Later Our Lord tells Pontius Pilate during His Passion “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth.” Pilate’s answer is one with which we are all too familiar with nowadays in our morally relativistic world: “What is truth?” (John 18:38-39).
How many times do we feel our faith challenged in that manner by others in trying situations? The Act of Faith reminds us that God’s word is indeed truth!
Note also that Jesus meant for His Church to teach the truths He revealed, with the help of the Holy Spirit “whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and bring to your mind, whatever I have said to you” (John 14:26). This is a great example of God in three Divine persons working together as one!
Our Creator is always there for us and wants us to turn to Him daily for spiritual nourishment on our Heavenward path. We don’t get all the answers in this life, as we “walk by faith, not by sight,” as St. Paul wrote (2 Cor 5:7).
Indeed, the Act of Faith is a prayer that includes elements of what is called the mystery of faith that we proclaim at Mass: Christ’s death, (along with His resurrection, depicted in the painting at right), and His certain return.
What needn’t be a mystery in any case is Christ’s crucial role in our salvation. The Act of Faith invites us to accept the necessity of our Lord’s sacrifice for us in His passion when it reminds us that He died for our sins.
He couldn’t just “come down from the cross,” as many taunted Him to do during His crucifixion, and still fill the needs of Divine justice as well as mercy!
Speaking of the cross, it is important for us to remember that God is often closest to us when difficulties arise. He’s ready to help us carry our crosses if we let Him.
St. Thomas Aquinas once noted that “the world tempts us, either by seducing us with its vanities or by terrifying us with its misfortunes.” Still, he continued, faith in God and in the promises of Heaven can help us overcome these temptations!
Isn’t it good to know God loves us so much that He’s with us in our struggles and ready to help us through them if we turn to Him in faith? And also, that “better things are awaiting us,” in any case, as Aquinas said? May this thought, and this prayer, help you to live your life as an act of faith!
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