Pope at Audience: Faith is first gift of Christian life

Pope Francis continues his series of catecheses on the virtues and vices, focusing this week on faith, the first of the theological virtues.

By Christopher Wells

Without the three theological virtues, “we would not have eyes that see even in the dark, we would not have a heart that loves even when it is not loved, we would not have a hope that dares against all hope,” Pope Francis said at the General Audience on Wednesday.

After considering the four cardinal virtues, the Holy Father has now turned to the theological virtues, focusing this week on faith, “the act by which the human being freely commits himself to God.”

Examples of faith

In his catechesis, the Holy Father held up the example of Abraham, who left his home for a new land at God’s command and was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac due to his trust in God.

Moses, too, was a man of faith, continuing “to stand firm and trust in the Lord, and even defend the people who were so often lacking in faith.”

Pope Francis then pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who responded to the Angel’s annunciation with the humble reply, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” “With her heart full of trust in God,” the Pope said, Mary set out on her path without knowing either the route or the dangers.

It is faith that “makes the Christian,” the Pope said, because “to be Christians is not first and foremost about accepting a culture,” but about a relationship with God.

The first gift of the Christian life

Recalling the Gospel account of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Pope highlighted the disciples' fear, saying it is fear, not reason or intelligence, that is the enemy of faith.

This, he said, is why faith is “the first gift to welcome in Christian life,” the gift parents ask for the children at Baptism.” They realize that they have received a gift which they want for their children, knowing that “even in the trials of life, their child will not drown in fear.”

‘Lord, increase our faith’

Finally, Pope Francis recognized that not everyone has faith and that even Christians can find their faith in short supply. But faith, the Pope said, “is the happiest gift, the only virtue we are permitted to envy,” precisely because it “‘triggers’ grace in us and opens the mind to the mystery of God.”


“Therefore,” the Pope concluded, “let us, too, like the disciples, repeat to Him, ‘Lord, increase our faith!’”

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01 May 2024, 09:30

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