The Catechism sections for today continue the enumeration of the attributes of faith from yesterday. St. Thomas Aquinas makes another appearance today as well in the supporting material.

The necessity of faith

161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.42 "Since "without faith it is impossible to please (God) " and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"]

Perseverance in faith

162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith."44 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;45 it must be "working through charity," abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46

Faith - the beginning of eternal life

163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God "face to face", "as he is".47 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.48

164 Now, however, "we walk by faith, not by sight";49 we perceive God as "in a mirror, dimly" and only "in part".50 Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. the world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.

165 It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who "in hope... believed against hope";51 to the Virgin Mary, who, in "her pilgrimage of faith", walked into the "night of faith"52 in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death; and to so many others: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith."53

IN BRIEF

183 Faith is necessary for salvation. the Lord himself affirms: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (⇒ Mk 16:16).

184 "Faith is a foretaste of the knowledge that will make us blessed in the life to come" (St. Thomas Aquinas. Comp. theol. 1, 2).

St. Thomas Aquinas describes the necessity of faith in the Summa Theologica (2,2,3).

Article 3. Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe anything above the natural reason?

Objection 1. It would seem unnecessary for salvation to believe anything above the natural reason. For the salvation and perfection of a thing seem to be sufficiently insured by its natural endowments. Now matters of faith, surpass man's natural reason, since they are things unseen as stated above (Question 1, Article 4). Therefore to believe seems unnecessary for salvation.

Objection 2. Further, it is dangerous for man to assent to matters, wherein he cannot judge whether that which is proposed to him be true or false, according to Job 12:11: "Doth not the ear discern words?" Now a man cannot form a judgment of this kind in matters of faith, since he cannot trace them back to first principles, by which all our judgments are guided. Therefore it is dangerous to believe in such matters. Therefore to believe is not necessary for salvation.

Objection 3. Further, man's salvation rests on God, according to Psalm 36:39: "But the salvation of the just is from the Lord." Now "the invisible things" of God "are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also and Divinity," according to Romans 1:20: and those things which are clearly seen by the understanding are not an object of belief. Therefore it is not necessary for man's salvation, that he should believe certain things.

On the contrary, It is written (Hebrews 11:6): "Without faith it is impossible to please God."

I answer that, Wherever one nature is subordinate to another, we find that two things concur towards the perfection of the lower nature, one of which is in respect of that nature's proper movement, while the other is in respect of the movement of the higher nature. Thus water by its proper movement moves towards the centre (of the earth), while according to the movement of the moon, it moves round the centre by ebb and flow. On like manner the planets have their proper movements from west to east, while in accordance with the movement of the first heaven, they have a movement from east to west. Now the created rational nature alone is immediately subordinate to God, since other creatures do not attain to the universal, but only to something particular, while they partake of the Divine goodness either in "being" only, as inanimate things, or also in "living," and in "knowing singulars," as plants and animals; whereas the rational nature, in as much as it apprehends the universal notion of good and being, is immediately related to the universal principle of being.

Consequently the perfection of the rational creature consists not only in what belongs to it in respect of its nature, but also in that which it acquires through a supernatural participation of Divine goodness. Hence it was said above (I-II, 3, 8) that man's ultimate happiness consists in a supernatural vision of God: to which vision man cannot attain unless he be taught by God, according to John 6:45: "Every one that hath heard of the Father and hath learned cometh to Me." Now man acquires a share of this learning, not indeed all at once, but by little and little, according to the mode of his nature: and every one who learns thus must needs believe, in order that he may acquire science in a perfect degree; thus also the Philosopher remarks (De Soph. Elench. i, 2) that "it behooves a learner to believe."

Hence in order that a man arrive at the perfect vision of heavenly happiness, he must first of all believe God, as a disciple believes the master who is teaching him.

Reply to Objection 1. Since man's nature is dependent on a higher nature, natural knowledge does not suffice for its perfection, and some supernatural knowledge is necessary, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 2. Just as man assents to first principles, by the natural light of his intellect, so does a virtuous man, by the habit of virtue, judge aright of things concerning that virtue; and in this way, by the light of faith which God bestows on him, a man assents to matters of faith and not to those which are against faith. Consequently "there is no" danger or "condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," and whom He has enlightened by faith.

Reply to Objection 3. In many respects faith perceives the invisible things of God in a higher way than natural reason does in proceeding to God from His creatures. Hence it is written (Sirach 3:25): "Many things are shown to thee above the understandings of man."

Footnotes

42 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16; ⇒ Jn 3:36; ⇒ 6:40 et al.
44 ⇒ 1 Tim 1:18-19
45 Cf. ⇒ Mk 9:24; ⇒ Lk 17:5; ⇒ 22:32
46 ⇒ Gal 5:6; ⇒ Rom 15:13; cf. ⇒ Jas 2:14-26
47 ⇒ 1 Cor 13:12; ⇒ I Jn 3:2
48 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.
49 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:7.
50 ⇒ l Cor 13:12.
51 ⇒ Rom 4:18
52 LG 58; John Paul II, RMat 18.
53 ⇒ Heb 12:1-2. Article 2