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Fr. Barron comments on What Faith Is and What Faith Isn't
I sometimes describe myself as a "person of faith" and invariably I receive condescending looks and comments describing some negative aspect of faith relative to reasom. Even though I have a strong scientific background (BS Chemical Engineering, MS Computer Science, MBA) I am challenged by people regarding the scientific basis of faith. Thank you for articulating a reasonable response to these challenges and inquiries. I will also share some of your thoughts with RCIA and Confirmation classes to spread the Word.
10/20/2011 5:15:47 PM
Dear Fr. Baron,
I so look forward to and appreciate your homilies and commentaries, and visiting Word on Fire is a real joy.
I received the Catholicism DVDs in September and have been watching them over and over - every time seeing something new, and gaining new perspectives - like reading and meditating on Scripture, but in audio-visual. In this wonderful way, I am learning so much about my faith and the beauty of Catholicism.
I am truly grateful to you for using your awesome talent in bringing our faith to us and to the world.
The art and architecture of Catholicism is AWESOME! But so also is the music that sets the tone and background for all this beauty, and is beauty in itself. Are you thinking of a CD with the musical score for the Series?
May God continue to bless you and Word on Fire Ministry.
10/21/2011 7:36:46 AM
Father, did you come up with this analogy or is this borrowed from someone else? If the latter, who is it and where can we learn more about it and/or see it discussed at even more length?
10/21/2011 9:43:31 AM
I liked how you tied the Scriptures and Jesus indirectly to the topic of Faith by saying that God "speaks" to us.
Dan, in Confessions, St. Augustine specifically talks about the Faith required in everyday human relationships. However, Jesus and the Holy Scriptures also talk about Faith in this way.
10/21/2011 10:14:09 AM
How can anyone not be moved by this? As Father Barron points out, we take these leaps of faith in life all the time - not not or a leap in the dark or a blind leap (faith, after all, is not blind), but a leap of faith nonetheless. And so it is with God.
10/21/2011 11:54:37 AM
Tyler, thanks. Could you be a bit more specific?
10/21/2011 1:34:38 PM
The URL here is a prime example of atheists pretending to show fault in our reason: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfBMFPYuLsE
10/21/2011 2:37:02 PM
In Confessions he refers to this idea in many places; however, Book VI, Chapter V is one of my favourite discussions/revelations of this Truth.
In the Bible Jesus constantly talks of God as his Father indicating his personal relationship with God and Jesus also reminds us that it is only through Him that we shall come to know the Lord. When I listened to Father Barron's commentary the following idea came to my mind: Jesus is the embodiment of God, he is the Supreme Person.
Additionally, the Old Testament teaches us that we need to have a personal relationship with God: I am thinking of Job, the Psalms, etc... The fact that the Old Testament reveals that God is a Jealous God speaks to this idea as well.
10/21/2011 3:14:44 PM
Dan, the passage I mentioned from St. Augustine's Confession may appear to contradict Fr. Barron's commentary on the surface (or on first reading) but it does not upon closer examination. One must read the passage carefully. St. Augustine begins his argument where Fr. Barron ends his argument: that Faith surpasses reason ("scientific understanding"). In the passage, St. Augustine argues that reason is not sufficient to prove (truly know) God's existence and that reason could not shake his Faith, which always remained with him. St. Augustine shows that our scientific knowledge begins on an act of Faith and ends with an act of Faith. St. Augustine, in this passage, provides a practical and concrete reason as to why believing Scripture is not irrational or unscientific. St. Augustine justifies not only having Faith generally speaking, but also, more specifically, having Faith in the Authority of the Scriptures and in Church Teaching. This passage by St. Augustine does not explain why the Church's Teaching is more valid than any other religion, but does argue that Faith in Church Teaching is not any less valid that any other religion (the Manichees).
10/21/2011 4:03:30 PM
love it!! keep up the good work
10/21/2011 5:35:23 PM
At the risk of being "odd-man-out," I would like to hear what the good father has to say about those who don't believe God exists, that know God exists, i.e., that by some experiential event... a "gentle breeze," they have come to know God, and not by any willful act of their own... all is Grace. For now though, I want to thank the good father for using the word TRUST, this to me is the brother, or sister if you will, of Faith... one completes the other. Thank you Father Barron.
10/21/2011 7:30:16 PM
A very fitting and illuminating description of faith. I too am tired of reading countless so-called "scientific/rational" rants that demand a purely empirical evidence for God. It is true that authentic faith always walks hand in hand with reason, as opposed to the many misconceptions out there among the intelligentsia.
10/22/2011 2:08:45 AM
This hits close to me. God works in mysterious ways, that’s what my mom used to say. It would be easier, safer to stay silent, but I know I have to put it out there in order to be healed.
I remember thinking about love when I was very young. (like most teens?) I also recall my definition of love as being: complete trust. I remember telling a friend this and I was told I was wrong. I never forgot that and although my definition has evolved, I have not changed my mind about the inclusion of complete trust in my definition of love.
As I have strived to know God, I have come to believe that He IS Love, authentic pure Love... truly “beyond our comprehension.” I think God reaches to us to completely trust Him, inviting us to know Him – He who is pure love. If one can get even the smallest slice of nearness to this, He really does speak.
Faith – this relationship with God that manifests itself. We are all God’s vessels. God has shown me relationship with the other through and with Him as center - indeed a manifestation of His love. I didn’t ask Him to, He just did. This revealing has involved a lot of suffering and yet, a blessing beyond words. Everyone is given something God wants to show us, it’s Him, It’s Love, in all aspects among all people, I will not forget nor deny what He has shown me. He is alive and active among us.
Now I understand why I remain chaste with my body. Because I have, “wanted the real thing.” I have said this so many times and had become convinced it didn’t exist. He showed me it does exist. The promise, the covenant, the manifestation of HIS love. The fully human life In Him.
What does this revealing do to my daily living faith? How well am I living this relationship with Him here in this world, this life, right here and right now. I have been so quick to point out what others are doing wrong, and not because I see the wrong, but because it is hurting me. It can’t be about me. And that is too much of what it has been. How much pain have I caused how many people because of my failing of following through in faith. I withhold the love God has placed in me protecting myself from hurt. It’s not the love we hold, it’s the love we give in the letting go. I’ve said it and I’ve not followed through. I do not have that complete trust I have proclaimed to be part of the true Love. I fail in my own faith. I have not done what I’ve been told to do.
I do love God, but I don’t know how to love Him. How do I give all of it up to Him? How do I love Him with my whole heart, mind and strength? I was told that the place I search for doesn’t exist this side of Heaven…. that’s like putting a bowl of ice cream in front of a small child and telling him all about it, showing him the whipped cream, the chocolate syrup, the sprinkles, how good it is, and then telling this child, but you can’t eat it. Why does God, my God, do this?
I am lost in what I am suppose to learn in, what I perceive to be, God withholding His love for me. I do pray but find myself wandering off somewhere thinking that He won’t listen until I learn what He has already tried to teach me. I’m in some dark corner somewhere until I learn.
It would be a lie if I told you I didn’t care what other people think, but I can tell you it’s just not as important as it used to be. It’s kinda like giving up.
I am truly sorry for accusing someone of stealing my faith. That isn’t Love.
10/22/2011 1:01:31 PM
I don't pretend to understand the mysteries of faith, but I never judge those who don't have it, because I can't help feeling it's a kind of gift, that it's linked, as Sebastian suggests, to Grace. Did I "choose" to believe? My own conversion experience felt more visceral than voluntary. I agree with Father Barron that people may come to faith through an intimate experience of God -- my own belief began after I read the book HE AND I -- the trouble is, God is so wildly misrepresented in our culture that people are turned off before they ever begin. If they can't hear the quiet voice of mercy above the shouts of intolerance and vengeance, how are they supposed to say Yes to it?
10/22/2011 7:23:55 PM
Great discussion, Fr. Barron! For those who seek "absolute proof" that God is real or that Christ really rose from the dead, I always fall back on the transformed lives of the apostles. These men abandoned Christ when he was crucified and after the Resurrection they saw and had fellowship with the Risen Christ. They then went throughout the world proclaiming that Christ had risen and that we could receive God's forgiveness through Him. They had such close friendship with the Risen Christ that they were willing to die the deaths of martyrs (St. Peter - crucified upside down; St. Paul - beheading; St. Andrew - crucified on an X; St. James - death by the sword, etc.) for the sake of adhering to Christ and his teachings. What else could have transformed their lives with such conviction but for the reality of the Resurrection and the reality of God and His Power?
10/23/2011 9:03:14 AM
Occupy Wall Street, where is your video? Here is advice for you, the word: Distraction.
10/23/2011 8:32:01 PM
Wonderful commentary Father! I love the analogy to our relationship with other people - I'd say it also is true with our relationship to the world itself. Reason itself, Chesterton said, is an act of faith - asserting our thoughts have any correlation whatsoever to the external world outside of us is a metaphysical assumption, a "faith-based initiative."
Regarding doubting God's existence, I recently did a piece on this on our web site at bywayofbeauty.com, using Ben Howard's song "The Wolves" as a springboard. This has less to do with reason I think, and more to do with a lack of the trust you spoke about. So many believers (John of the Cross, Mother Theresa, etc.) pass through their "dark night". But I think doubt needn't be only temporary, or a hindrance to faith - it can strengthen our desire for God and our conviction that he exists. As Tillich also said, "doubt is one element of faith." Oscillation between lack of trust and trust occur in all of our hearts - something non-believers tend to ignore when they picture your caricature of faith you described - big, stupid, monolithic naivete.
At any rate, wonderful piece! Bravo!
10/24/2011 11:42:21 AM
Great. God is the supreme person not an idea a theology or philosophy but a person. Therefore our faith is an encounter with a person thank you very much. One of the best!!
10/26/2011 5:01:29 AM
Dear "pride", it took courage for you to "put it out there to be healed", and in taking the risk of being vulnerable, I'm sure your words touched many readers out there besides myself. Your reference to How to love God completely and the comparison to ice cream before a child, was wonderful. Hope you continue in your persuit of healing, as safety seems no longer an option, but an obstacle in your path. God Speed!
10/27/2011 4:00:27 PM
Amen, Father! I've been following you for a while and really enjoy your commentary - it's a breath of fresh air in a polluted world.
As a scientist, I always tell people that I rely on faith daily in my own work - I must trust (and therefore have faith in) all of the work that has come before me and which guides my own research. As I stand on the shoulders of the men who have come before me, I must have faith that the work they did is true and that they didn't manipulate the data for their own gain (actually pretty likely given the kind of pressures there are to publish...). I always find that this at least puts a crack in the door of the mind of those who claim science is opposed to reason.
10/27/2011 4:08:46 PM
Sorry - "... those who claim faith is opposed to reason."
10/27/2011 4:24:19 PM
How can one talk about God when we cannot even describe the scent of a rose?
How can a created create the creator?
I read, to know God is first to accept that we do not know God.
Maybe with an open mind and an open heart we'll have a glimpse of who God is and that is FAITH.
10/30/2011 8:34:52 PM
How do I hear God speak? How do I experience this "Exchange of Heart"?
11/29/2011 7:19:26 PM
I love your New Catholicism studies and teachings DVD. Congratulations !!!!! We need more to enhance Catholics around the world and bring in new ones also...
I could not understand your theory about FAITH.
Please base this according to what G-d - (Jesus) said in the Bible... By His Own WORDS not in your own opinion.
This has been the problem in the Catholic Religion -- forgetting to read more Words of G-d in the BIBLE and get the correct words.
We need to grab a Bible and read the correct words about FAITH...you will find plenty of everything in the Bible about whatever you are teaching..You're a Theologist ???
G-d teaches us that FAITH is:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, not by sight. For we live by faith, not by sight.
Now faith is confidence in what we HOPE for and assurance about what we do NOT SEE. Hebrews 11:1
Father Barron, Faith is the Assurance of what we don't see (G-d, Jesus, Mary, Angels) and the CONFIDENCE that when we pray we will receive it...(according to G-d)Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done."
11/30/2011 5:01:45 PM
I wrote a whole book on this, titled What Faith is Not, in case anyone's interested: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1580511031?tag=mitchandkathy-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1580511031&adid=0KH4WW1BTDESKSHYW2QS&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mitchandkathyfinley.com%2Fmitchsbooks.htm
12/23/2011 5:46:43 PM
I'm University educated, and used to be a secular person. People around me were outstanded that I became a Catholic as an adult. I never realized that this would shock my peers. They always asked me why? what made you do it? The short anser is "30 yrs of living a secular life will do it to you!" (and they laugh, but I think they get it) I've realized something...They don't they don't know. They don't know what we know. They think they know; just like I did for many years. Like if someone describes what is a hot chocolate to you... Come on!... it has nothing to do with the experience of knowing what is a hot chocolate.
So I say: Taste and see, the goodness of the Lord.
1/10/2012 11:44:31 AM
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