It is no great secret that the rejection of St. Thomas and his philosophy and theology have led to a faith that is almost entirely absent or Protestant in nature in our culture. Very few actually live their lives in a state of grace or for that matter are seeking to live in a state of grace. They reject the notion that we can even know what that means or how we can accomplish such a thing. Grace to most moderns is somehow randomly caught floating in the atmosphere. That is if you profess that you believe in Jesus Christ. It just sort of falls on us like a snow covered blanket, covering us up and making us look nice on the outside. While all the while the inside is still ugly, dark, and evil. You are, as Martin Luther says a "snow covered dunghill." There is no greater anthropological error than to reject the good nature of the human person and the need for an infusion of grace to elevate that nature to the super nature for which it was intended. Think about, a protestant who says "I am a bible believing christian." Who then proceeds to reject the words of God, who professes boldly that the nature of the human person is "in His image and likeness" and that is "very good."
The second effect of faith is that eternal life is begun in our soul. Sanctifying grace is the purifying gift of the sacraments. It sets the New Testament apart from the old. The loss of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the fall led to the absence of God's presence in the souls of the Jewish faithful. They had actual grace, but, they were without sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace restores to the soul the life of the Holy Spirit. Those souls who remain in a state of grace, remain in union with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Upon our death, the firm hope of those who have faith is that they will be drawn into eternal life. God is eternal life. He shares that with those who believe what he has revealed. He makes His dwelling with us through the sacraments. The Lord proclaimed in the gospel of John "This is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Our knowledge of God begins here in this life, through faith. Through faith, we are drawn deeply into Christ's presence in the Eucharist and the other sacraments. Here and now is only the beginning. What is begun here through our full on one flesh reunion with God in faith, is brought to completion and perfection when we shall know God as He is. St. Paul says as much when he says "faith is the substance of things hoped for." As St. Thomas says "no one can arrive at a perfect happiness of heaven, which is the true knowledge of God, unless first he knows God through faith." Heaven begins in our soul when through faith our soul is united to God as in a marriage. When you die, and you will, if you die in a state of grace, your soul is already united to it's destination.
Why are we all tempted to lose faith? Likely because everywhere we look we see disordered human living. Thank you Martin Luther. If we think we are snow covered dunghills and we take we believe his anthropology, then why would we strive for holiness. What a waste of time that would be. According to him it is an impossible feat. Therefore, as he says, we may as well "sin boldly." Really doesn't that sound like the theology of our culture. I use culture for lack of a better word, there is little that is cultured about culture at this moment in time. Whole different blog though. Everything has been flipped. Vice is not virtue. It is "good" to live with our significant other before marriage. It is actually "good" to live with them instead of marriage. We are now encouraged to accept that marriage actually has no essential nature. It is rather, man made, and as such can be reconfigured to suit our own feelings and desires. That is considered good and if you do not agree that two men "marrying" each other is "good". Then you are a close minded, archaic, bigot. The modern mind somehow believes that it is "good" not to make a permanent commitment to anyone. Or that you can make any type of temporary commitment and call it marriage. There is not binding nature or definition, therefore, we are free do as we wish and it all falls under the definition of marriage. This can be attributed to the epidemic loss of faith.
Faith gives new and essential direction to our life. Not just direction but the right direction. If we are to live a good life, a life of virtue, then it is necessary that we know what is necessary to live a good and virtuous life. Far to many people, including churchmen, live according to their own efforts alone. Probably accepting that the nature of the human person cannot change. Likely rejecting the notion that the human person was made for the good, he was made to live a virtuous life. True freedom depends on our desire to pursue virtue and the purification of our weaknesses. I have worked for the Church for years, I can tell you with certainty, that there are numerous priests who simply do not have a daily commitment to prayer. There are numerous priests who are active homosexuals. There are numerous priests who either do not have the courage to boldly proclaim the gospel in public either that or they simply do not believe it. That my friends is living a life of one's own effort. That my friends is living a life apart from the theological virtue of faith. That my friends is the wrong direction. Disorder of the highest degree. By our own efforts we "will never attain such knowledge, or if so, only after a long time (St. Thomas)." Faith leads to hope and orders our life to one other than this one. It instills in us the awareness of eternal life and other supernatural truths that complete and drive us on in perseverance. Our assent to these truths compel us to "live rightly and avoid evil (St. Thomas Aquinas)." As holy scripture says "The Just man liveth by faith." If you want to be a saint, if you want God to dwell within you and hold you close to Him. If you want to boldly proclaim and live the faith in public without anxiety and fear over what may happen to you or whether or not the boss my fire you, you need the theological virtue of faith. If you want the Lord to call you by name and to refer to you as one of the just, like Moses, Abraham, or David, then simply pursuing your life according to your own efforts is a fruitless endeavor. But I suspect you have already figured that out. St. Thomas says that this is evident:
"in that no one of the philosophers before the coming of Christ could, through his own powers, know God and the means necessary for salvation as well as any old woman since Christ' coming know Him through faith."
Three Effects Down
Faith the supernatural virtue of faith brings about in us four great effects. We have explored three of them. The first is that the soul is united to God in a union like marriage. The second is a result of the union of God in marriage, eternal life is begun in the soul. The third effect is that supernatural faith gives life a proper and fitting direction.
There is one last effect. Look for it in part III. Until then:
Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!