Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:
Though faith is a
gift of God, and though God will give it to those that ask it, there
is one very human obstacle why more minds do not receive it, and
that is Pride. Pride is the commonest sin of the modern mind, and
yet the one of which the modern mind is never conscious. You have
heard people say: "I like drink too much," or "I am quick-tempered,"
but did you ever hear anyone say: "I am conceited"?
Pride is the
exaltation of self as an absolute standard of truth, goodness and
morality. It judges everything by itself, and for that reason
everyone else is a rival, particularly God. Pride makes it
impossible to know God. If I know everything, then not even God can
teach me anything. If I am filled with myself, then there is no
place for God. Like the inns of Bethlehem, we say to the Divine
Visitor: "There is no room."
If pride is the
great human obstacle to faith, it follows that, from the human side,
the essential condition of receiving faith is humility. Humility is
not an underestimation of what we are, but the plain, unadulterated
truth. . .
The nature of the act of faith was revealed by
Our Lordís attitude toward the unbelieving Pharisees. They had seen
miracles worked and prophecies fulfilled. They were not lacking in
motives for belief. But they still refused to believe. Our Lord took
a little child in His midst and said: "Amen, I say to you, whosoever
shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not
enter into it," (Mark 10:15).
By this He meant that the act of faith has more
in common with the trusting belief of a child in his mother than
with the assent of a critic. The child believes what the mother
tells him because she said it. His belief is an unaffected and
trusting homage of love to his mother.
When the Christian believes, he does so, not
because he has in the back of his mind the miracles of Christ, but
because of the authority of one who can neither deceive nor be
deceived. "If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God
is greater. For this is the testimony of God, which is greater,
because He hath testified of his Son. He that believeth in the Son
of God, hath the testimony of God in himself. He that believeth not
the Son, maketh him a liar; because he believeth not in the
testimony which God hath testified of his Son," (1 John
Preface to religion by Archbishop Fulton J.
in The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom,
edited by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.,
published by Ignatius Press, 1987
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