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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 5:9-10).

Preface to religion by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
in The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom,
edited by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.,
published by Ignatius Press, 1987

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