June 29, 2013

Ch.1 (§8) We Have Believed in Love;    Ch.2 (§23) Unless...Believe...Not Understand;
Ch.3 (§37) I Delivered ...What I  Received;   Ch 4 (§50) God Prepares a Place for Them   52 Family



Encyclical Letter of the Supreme Pontiff Francis, Lumen Fidei, to the Bishops Priests and Deacons Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful On Faith

Francisci Summi Pontificis Litterae Encyclicae Lumen Fidei Episcopis Presbyteris ac Diaconis Viris et Mulieribus Consecratis Omnibusque Christifidelibus Laicis De Fide



1. The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (Jn 12:46). Saint Paul uses the same image: “God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts” (2 Cor 4:6). The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, Sol Invictus, invoked each day at sunrise. Yet though the sun was born anew each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting its light on all of human existence. The sun does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to its light. “No one — Saint Justin Martyr writes — has ever been ready to die for his faith in the sun”.1 [Dial.Tryph., 121, 2: PG 6, 758.] Conscious of the immense horizon which their faith opened before them, Christians invoked Jesus as the true sun “whose rays bestow life”.2[Clem. Alex.Protrep., IX: PG 8, 195.] To Martha, weeping for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus said: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (Jn 11:40). Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets.

1.Lumen fidei: sententia hac Ecclesiae traditio magnum donum ab Iesu delatum indicavit, qui in Ioannis Evangelio sic se exhibet: « Ego lux in mundum veni, ut omnis, qui credit in me, in tenebris non maneat » (Io 12,46). Sanctus Paulus quoque haec verba protulit: « Deus qui dixit: “De tenebris lux splendescat”, ipse illuxit in cordibus nostris » (2 Cor 4,6). Apud paganos, lucem esurientes, Solis dei, Solis invicti, cultus increbruit, qui oriens invocabatur. Etiamsi quotidie oriebatur sol, plane intellegebatur lucem toti hominis exsistentiae eum adferre non posse. Etenim sol omnes res non illuminat, eius radius usque ad umbram mortis pervenire non valet, ubi hominis oculus se a luce excludit. Sanctus Iustinus martyr asserit: « Nec quisquam unquam exstitit, qui mortem propter fidem in solem oppeteret ».1 De magno conscii prospectu, quem eis patefaciebat fides, christiani verum solem Christum vocaverunt, qui « suisque radiis vitam praebuit ».2 Marthae, quae Lazarum fratrem mortuum flet, Iesus dicit: « Nonne dixi tibi quoniam si credideris, videbis gloriam Dei? » (Io 11,40). Qui credit, videt; luce videt quadam, quae totum vitae cursum illuminat, quandoquidem ad nos a Christo resuscitato pervenit, matutina stella quae non occidit.





 An illusory light?

Fallax lux?





2. Yet in speaking of the light of faith, we can almost hear the objections of many of our contemporaries. In modernity, that light might have been considered sufficient for societies of old, but was felt to be of no use for new times, for a humanity come of age, proud of its rationality and anxious to explore the future in novel ways. Faith thus appeared to some as an illusory light, preventing mankind from boldly setting out in quest of knowledge. The young Nietzsche encouraged his sister Elisabeth to take risks, to tread “new paths… with all the uncertainty of one who must find his own way”, adding that “this is where humanity’s paths part: if you want peace of soul and happiness, then believe, but if you want to be a follower of truth, then seek”.3[Brief an Elisabeth Nietzsche (11 June 1865), in: Werke. München, 1954, 953ff.] Belief would be incompatible with seeking. From this starting point Nietzsche was to develop his critique of Christianity for diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of novelty and adventure. Faith would thus be the illusion of light, an illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.

2. Attamen de hoc fidei lumine loquentes, nostros complures aequales contraria dicentes audire possumus. Hodiernis temporibus hoc lumen antiquis societatibus sufficere posse est cogitatum, at minime esse aptum novis temporibus, homini qui adolevit, qui sua ratione gloriatur quique nova via futurum vestigare studet. Hoc sensu lux fallax videbatur fides, quae impediebat quominus homo cognoscendi audaciam coleret. Nietzsche iuvenis ad periculum adeundum Elisabetham sororem invitabat, ut « novas semitas […] in dubitatione proprio arbitrio procedendi » calcaret. Illud quidem addebat: « Hoc loco hominum viae seiunguntur: si vis animae pacem felicitatemque attingere, habe sane fidem, sed si veritatis vis esse discipulus, tum vestiga ».3 Credere ab inquirendo prohibet. Ex hoc loco sumens initium, Nietzsche suam reprobationem adversus christianam doctrinam producet, quippe quae humanae exsistentiae vim extenuaverit, cum vitae novitatem vicemque adimeret. Fides tunc quaedam lucis esset deceptio, quae nostro hominum liberorum itineri futurum in aevum officeret.





3. In the process, faith came to be associated with darkness. There were those who tried to save faith by making room for it alongside the light of reason. Such room would open up wherever the light of reason could not penetrate, wherever certainty was no longer possible. Faith was thus understood either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation, but not something which could be proposed to others as an objective and shared light which points the way. Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.

3. Hoc in processu fides tenebris iugatur. Creditum est eam conservari posse, ei locum reperiri, ut cum lucis ratione una esset. Spatium patebat fidei ubi illuminare non valebat ratio, ubi homo nimirum certitudines iam habere non poterat. Tunc fides tamquam in vacuum iactus visa est, quem, deficiente luce, facimus, caeco sensu compulsi; vel uti subiectiva lux, quae cor fortasse calefacere, privatum solamen afferre valet, sed tamquam obiectivam communemque lucem ad iter collustrandum se exhibere ceteris non potest. Attamen paulatim conspectum est rationis lucem sua vi futurum satis collustrare non valere, quod tandem sua in obscuritate manet et hominem ignota pertimescentem reliquit. Si homo magnam lucem, magnam veritatem vestigandam reliquit, ut in parvis luminibus quiesceret, quae brevia momenta illuminarent, quaeque viam munire non valerent. Cum lux deficit, omnia confunduntur, discerni non potest bonum a malo, via quae ad metam ducit ab ea quae nos in circulos iterabiles, sine certo cursu, perducit.





 A light to be recovered

Lux denuo detegenda







4. There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfilment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time. On the one hand, it is a light coming from the past, the light of the foundational memory of the life of Jesus which revealed his perfectly trustworthy love, a love capable of triumphing over death. Yet since Christ has risen and draws us beyond death, faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion. We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness. Dante, in the Divine Comedy, after professing his faith to Saint Peter, describes that light as a “spark, which then becomes a burning flame and like a heavenly star within me glimmers” 4 [Paradiso XXIV, 145-147.] .It is this light of faith that I would now like to consider, so that it can grow and enlighten the present, becoming a star to brighten the horizon of our journey at a time when mankind is particularly in need of light.

4. Instat igitur ut lucis natura, quae ad ipsam fidem spectat, recuperetur, quandoquidem cum eius flamma exstinguitur reliquae quoque luces extenuantur. Nam fidei lumen singularem habet naturam, cum facultatem habeat totam hominis exsistentiam illuminandi. Ut lux sic potens sit, a nobis ipsis manare non potest, nativiore ex fonte oriri debet, ex Deo tandem fluere debet. Fides oritur cum Deus vivens convenitur, qui nos vocat atque amorem suum nobis planum facit, amorem nempe qui nos antecedit et in quo inniti possumus, ut firmi simus vitamque aedificemus. Hoc amore immutati, novos oculos recipimus, in eo magnam plenitudinis inesse repromissionem experimur atque prospectus ad futurum nobis patet. Fides, quam a Deo veluti supernaturale donum recipimus, ut in via lux manifestatur, quae iter nostrum in tempore dirigit. Hinc procedit ipsa ex praeterito, lux est cuiusdam fundantis memoriae, illius Iesu vitae, ubi eius plane commendabilis amor est manifestatus, qui mortem vincere valet. Eodem autem tempore, quoniam Christus resurrexit ac ultra mortem nos attrahit, fides lux est quae ex futuro venit, quae nobis magnos prospectus recludit atque ultra nostrum « ego » segregatum nos ad communionis amplitudinem perducit. Intellegimus tunc non incolere in obscuritate fidem, esse ipsam pro nostris tenebris lucem. Dantes in Divina Comoedia, postquam suam fidem coram sancto Petro professus est, eam describit veluti « favillam / quae dilatatur in flammam postea vivacem, / et sicut stella in caelo, in me scintillat ».4 Hac de ipsa fidei luce loqui volumus, ut crescat ad praesentia illuminanda usque dum stella fiat quae nostri itineris prospectus demonstrat, tempore quodam cum peculiarem in modum luce indiget homo.





5. Christ, on the eve of his passion, assured Peter: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32). He then told him to strengthen his brothers and sisters in that same faith. Conscious of the duty entrusted to the Successor of Peter, Benedict XVI proclaimed the present Year of Faith, a time of grace which is helping us to sense the great joy of believing and to renew our wonder at the vast horizons which faith opens up, so as then to profess that faith in its unity and integrity, faithful to the memory of the Lord and sustained by his presence and by the working of the Holy Spirit. The conviction born of a faith which brings grandeur and fulfilment to life, a faith centred on Christ and on the power of his grace, inspired the mission of the first Christians. In the acts of the martyrs, we read the following dialogue between the Roman prefect Rusticus and a Christian named Hierax: “‘Where are your parents?’, the judge asked the martyr. He replied: ‘Our true father is Christ, and our mother is faith in him’”.5 [Act. Sanct., Junii, I, 21.] For those early Christians, faith, as an encounter with the living God revealed in Christ, was indeed a “mother”, for it had brought them to the light and given birth within them to divine life, a new experience and a luminous vision of existence for which they were prepared to bear public witness to the end.

Dominus, antequam pateretur, Petro hoc rettulit: « Ego autem rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua » (Lc 22,32). Exinde ex eo quaesivit ut hac in ipsa fide « fratres confirmaret ». De munere Petri Successori demandato prorsus sibi conscius, Benedictus XVI hunc Annum fidei indixit, tempus videlicet gratiae, qui ad magnam credendi laetitiam percipiendam, ad fovendam amplitudinis visionum intellectionem nos adiuvat, quam fides patefacit, ut eandem eius in unitate integritateque confiteamur, Domini memoriae fideles, eius praesentia et Spiritu Sancto agente fulti. Eo quod de fide quae magnam plenamque reddit vitam quaeque in Christo eiusque virtute innititur conscii erant, concitabantur pristini christiani sua in missione. In martyrum Actibus hunc dialogum inter praefectum Romanum Rusticum et Hieracem christianum legimus: « Quaesivit Praefectus et ab Hierace ubinam gentium essent eius parentes. Cui respondit Hierax: “Verus pater noster Christus est et mater fides, qua in ipsum credimus” ».5 Christianis illis fides, prout Deus vivens conveniebatur in Christo manifestatus, « mater » erat quaedam, quia efficiebat ut in lucem prodirent, in illis vitam divinam, novam experientiam, fulgidam exsistentiae visionem generabat, ideoque ad testimonium publicum reddendum usque ad finem parati erant.





6. The Year of Faith was inaugurated on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. This is itself a clear indication that Vatican II was a Council on faith,6 inasmuch as it asked us to restore the primacy of God in Christ to the centre of our lives, both as a Church and as individuals.

6. Annus fidei quinquagesimo vertente anno a Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II incohato initium sumpsit. Haec temporum convenientia nobis dat copiam considerandi Vaticanum II fidei fuisse Concilium,6 eo quod nos invitavit ut praecipuum tribueremus locum nostrae ecclesialis et personalis vitae primatui Dei in Christo.

6 [“Though the Council does not expressly deal with faith, it speaks of it on every page, it recognizes its living, supernatural character, it presumes it to be full and strong, and it bases its teachings on it. It is sufficient to recall the Council’s statements… to see the essential importance which the Council, in line with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, attributes to faith, the true faith, which has its source in Christ, and the magisterium of the Church for its channel”  (Paul VI, General Audience [8 March 1967]: Insegnamenti V [1967], 705).]

«Si Concilium de fide nominatim non disserit, de ea singulis in paginis loquitur, cuius vitalem ac supernaturalem naturam novit, eandem integram et fortem putat et super eam suas doctrinas aedificat. Conciliares sententias memorare sufficit […], ut intellegatur praecipuum momentum, quod Concilium, doctrinae Ecclesiae traditioni conveniens, fidei tribuit, verae fidei, illi quae Christum habet fontem et canalem Ecclesiae Magisterium »

The Church never takes faith for granted, but knows that this gift of God needs to be nourished and reinforced so that it can continue to guide her pilgrim way. The Second Vatican Council enabled the light of faith to illumine our human experience from within, accompanying the men and women of our time on their journey. It clearly showed how faith enriches life in all its dimensions.

Ecclesia enim numquam fidem pro concesso sumit, sed scit hoc Dei donum alendum esse et roborandum, ut eius iter dirigere pergat. Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II effecit ut intra humanam experientiam illuceret fides, cum hodierni hominis semitas calcaret. Hac ratione patet quo pacto exsistentiam omnibus in eius modis fides locupletet.





7. These considerations on faith — in continuity with all that the Church’s magisterium has pronounced on this theological virtue 7 [Cf., for example, Vat.I, Dogm. Const. on the Cath.Faith Dei Filius, Ch. 3: DS 3008-3020; Vat.II, Dogm. Const. on Div. Rev. Dei Verbum, 5: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 153-165.] — are meant to supplement what Benedict XVI had written in his encyclical letters on charity and hope. He himself had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith. For this I am deeply grateful to him, and as his brother in Christ I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own. The Successor of Peter, yesterday, today and tomorrow, is always called to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the priceless treasure of that faith which God has given as a light for humanity’s path.

7. Hae de fide cogitationes – dum id continuatur quod Ecclesiae Magisterium de hac theologali virtute enuntiavit 7 – iis adduntur quas Benedictus XVI in Litteris encyclicis de caritate et spe scripsit. Ipse primam conscriptionem fere ad finem adduxit Litterarum encyclicarum de fide. Perquam gratum animum ei significamus atque, in Christi fraternitate, magni pretii opus suscipimus, in textum nonnulla alia inferentes additamenta. Nam Petri Successor, heri, hodie et cras ad « fratres confirmandos » illo in incommensurabili fidei thesauro continenter vocatur, quam in via cuiusque hominis veluti lucem tribuit Deus.

In God’s gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope. Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God. But what is it like, this road which faith opens up before us? What is the origin of this powerful light which brightens the journey of a successful and fruitful life? 

In fide, Dei dono, supernaturali virtute ab Eo infusa, agnoscimus magnum Amorem nobis esse oblatum, bonum Verbum ad nos esse conversum atque, cum hoc Verbum suscipimus, quod est Iesus Christus, Verbum incarnatum, Spritum Sanctum nos immutare, iter futuri collustrare, atque in nobis spei alas gignere, ad illud laetanter decurrendum. Fides, spes et caritas in mirabili quadam complicatione vim dynamicam constituunt christianae exsistentiae ad plenam cum Deo communionem obtinendam. Quae est haec via quam coram nobis aperit fides? Unde oritur potens lux quae facultatem facit iter illuminandi cuiusdam effectae vitae, frugiferae et fructibus repletae?

Ch 1 We Have Believed in Love






(cf. 1 Jn 4:16)

(cfr 1 Io 4,16)











 Abraham, our father in faith

Abraham noster in fide pater







8. Faith opens the way before us and accompanies our steps through time. Hence, if we want to understand what faith is, we need to follow the route it has taken, the path trodden by believers, as witnessed first in the Old Testament. Here a unique place belongs to Abraham, our father in faith. Something disturbing takes place in his life: God speaks to him; he reveals himself as a God who speaks and calls his name. Faith is linked to hearing. Abraham does not see God, but hears his voice. Faith thus takes on a personal aspect. God is not the god of a particular place, or a deity linked to specific sacred time, but the God of a person, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, capable of interacting with man and establishing a covenant with him. Faith is our response to a word which engages us personally, to a “Thou” who calls us by name.

8. Nobis fides iter patefacit et in historiam nostros passus dirigit. Quapropter, si intellegere volumus quid sit fides, eius cursum, viam hominum credentium, narrare debemus, quam Vetus Testamentum primum est testificatum. Singularem locum occupat Abraham, in fide noster pater. Eius in vita aliquid accidit praeter opinationem: Deus ad eum Verbum convertit, revelatur sicut Deus qui loquitur et eum nomine appellat. Fides cum auditu coniungitur. Abraham Deum non videt, at eius vocem audit. Hoc modo fides personalem rationem consequitur. Deus sic ostenditur non cuiusdam loci Deus, ne Deus quidem cum quodam peculiari sacro tempore coniunctus, sed Deus alicuius personae, Deus nempe Abraham, Isaac et Iacob, qui hominem convenire potest et cum eo foedus facere. Fides responsio est ad Verbum, quod personaliter interrogat, ad « Tu » nempe, a quo nominatim nos vocamur.





9. The word spoken to Abraham contains both a call and a promise. First, it is a call to leave his own land, a summons to a new life, the beginning of an exodus which points him towards an unforeseen future. The sight which faith would give to Abraham would always be linked to the need to take this step forward: faith “sees” to the extent that it journeys, to the extent that it chooses to enter into the horizons opened up by God’s word. This word also contains a promise: Your descendants will be great in number, you will be the father of a great nation (cf. Gen 13:16; 15:5; 22:17). As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope.

9. Id quod Abraham dicit hoc Verbum in quadam vocatione ac repromissione concluditur. Est ante omnia vocatio ad propriam terram deserendam, invitatio ad novam vitam conveniendam, initium alicuius exodi, qui ad iter necopinatum eum dirigit. Visio quam Abraham dat fides, cum hoc gressu ultra efficiendo semper nectitur: fides quatenus ambulat « videt », dum in spatium a Verbo Dei patefactum ingreditur. Verbum hoc porro repromissionem continet: tuum semen multiplicabitur, pater eris magni populi (cfr Gn 13,16; 15,5; 22,17). Verum est, ut responsionem ad Verbum quod praecedit, Abraham fidem semper fore memoriae actum. Attamen haec memoria non figit in praeterito, sed cum memoria sit repromissionis, futurum recludere, gressus per viam collustrare valet. Conspicitur sic quomodo fides, memoria futuri, arte cum spe coniungatur.





10. Abraham is asked to entrust himself to this word. Faith understands that something so apparently ephemeral and fleeting as a word, when spoken by the God who is fidelity, becomes absolutely certain and unshakable, guaranteeing the continuity of our journey through history. Faith accepts this word as a solid rock upon which we can build, a straight highway on which we can travel. In the Bible, faith is expressed by the Hebrew word ’emûnāh, derived from the verb ’amān whose root means “to uphold”. The term ’emûnāh can signify both God’s fidelity and man’s faith. The man of faith gains strength by putting himself in the hands of the God who is faithful. Playing on this double meaning of the word — also found in the corresponding terms in Greek (pistós) and Latin (fidelis) — Saint Cyril of Jerusalem praised the dignity of the Christian who receives God’s own name: both are called “faithful”.8 [Cf. Catechesis V, 1: PG 33, 505A.] As Saint Augustine explains: “Man is faithful when he believes in God and his promises; God is faithful when he grants to man what he has promised”.9[In Psal. 32, II, s. I, 9: PL 36, 284.]

10. Ab Abraham requiritur ut huic Verbo se committat. Fides intellegit Verbum, rem, ut apparet, fluxam et transeuntem, cum a Deo fideli pronuntiatur, maxime omnium securam fieri et immotam, quod continuatum in tempore iter nostrum efficere valet. Fides hoc Verbum sicut firmam petram recipit, in qua solidis fundamentis aedificari potest. Idcirco in Bibliis fides per verbum Hebraicum ’emûnah indicatur, quod eruitur e verbo ’amàn, quod sua in radice « sustinere » significat. Vox ’emûnah tam Dei fidelitatem, quam hominis fidem significare potest. Fidelis homo suam recipit vim, tradens se in Dei fidelis manus. Utraque verbi significatione – quod est pistós (vox Graeca) et fidelis (vox Latina) – usus, sanctus Cyrillus Hierosolymitanus christiani extollit dignitatem, qui ipsius Dei recipit nomen: uterque « fidelis » vocatur.8  Sanctus Augustinus sic id explicat: « Fidelis homo est credens promittenti Deo; fidelis Deus est exhibens quod promisit homini ».9





11. A final element of the story of Abraham is important for understanding his faith. God’s word, while bringing newness and surprise, is not at all alien to Abraham’s experience. In the voice which speaks to him, the patriarch recognizes a profound call which was always present at the core of his being. God ties his promise to that aspect of human life which has always appeared most “full of promise”, namely, parenthood, the begetting of new life: “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac” (Gen 17:19). The God who asks Abraham for complete trust reveals himself to be the source of all life. Faith is thus linked to God’s fatherhood, which gives rise to all creation; the God who calls Abraham is the Creator, the one who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Rom 4:17), the one who “chose us before the foundation of the world… and destined us for adoption as his children” (Eph 1:4-5). For Abraham, faith in God sheds light on the depths of his being, it enables him to acknowledge the wellspring of goodness at the origin of all things and to realize that his life is not the product of non-being or chance, but the fruit of a personal call and a personal love. The mysterious God who called him is no alien deity, but the God who is the origin and mainstay of all that is. The great test of Abraham’s faith, the sacrifice of his son Isaac, would show the extent to which this primordial love is capable of ensuring life even beyond death. The word which could raise up a son to one who was “as good as dead”, in “the barrenness” of Sarah’s womb (cf. Rom 4:19), can also stand by his promise of a future beyond all threat or danger (cf. Heb 11:19; Rom 4:21).

11. Postrema consideratio Abraham historiae ad eius fidem intellegendam magnum habet pondus. Dei Verbum etiamsi novitatem et necopinata secum fert, minime a Patriarchae experientia est aliena. In voce Abraham relata, altam appellationem ipse agnoscit, quae in ipsius corde perpetuo est inscripta. Suam repromissionem « loco » illisociat Deus, in quo hominis exsistentia se usque pollicentem ostendit: paternitati, in novam vitam generationi: – « Sara, uxor tua pariet tibi filium, vocabisque nomen eius Isaac » (Gn 17,19). Deus ille qui ab Abraham requirit ut se ei penitus commendet fons revelatur ex quo omnis manat vita. Hoc modo fides nectitur cum Dei Paternitate, ex qua creatio oritur: Deus qui Abraham vocat Deus est creator, qui « vocat ea, quae non sunt, quasi sint » (Rom 4,17), ille « elegit nos in ipso ante mundi constitutionem […] qui praedestinavit nos in adoptionem filiorum » (Eph 1,4-5). Apud Abraham in Deum fides intimas ipsius medullas collustrat, dat ei facultatem bonitatis scaturiginem agnoscendi, quae omnium rerum est origo, atque confirmandi eius vitam non ex nihilo aut casu procedere, verum ex vocatione personalique amore. Arcanus Deus, qui eum vocavit, non est Deus extraneus, sed is qui omnium rerum est origo quique omnia sustentat. Magna Abraham fidei probatio, filii Isaac sacrificium, demonstrat quantopere primigenius hic amor vitam etiam ultra mortem praestare valeat. Verbum quod in eius corpore « veluti emortuo » et in Sarae sterilis « emortuo sinu » (cfr Rom 4,19) suscitare valuit filium, promissum futuri ultra minas aut periculum implere valet (cfr Heb 11,19; Rom 4,21).





 The faith of Israel

Israel fides







12. The history of the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus follows in the wake of Abraham’s faith. Faith once again is born of a primordial gift: Israel trusts in God, who promises to set his people free from their misery. Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey leading to worship of the Lord on Sinai and the inheritance of a promised land. God’s love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way (cf. Dt 1:31). Israel’s confession of faith takes shape as an account of God’s deeds in setting his people free and acting as their guide (cf. Dt 26:5-11), an account passed down from one generation to the next. God’s light shines for Israel through the remembrance of the Lord’s mighty deeds, recalled and celebrated in worship, and passed down from parents to children. Here we see how the light of faith is linked to concrete life-stories, to the grateful remembrance of God’s mighty deeds and the progressive fulfilment of his promises. Gothic architecture gave clear expression to this: in the great cathedrals light comes down from heaven by passing through windows depicting the history of salvation. God’s light comes to us through the account of his self-revelation, and thus becomes capable of illuminating our passage through time by recalling his gifts and demonstrating how he fulfils his promises.

12. Populi Israel historia, in Exodi libro, fidei Abraham exemplum persequitur. Ex primigenio dono oritur denuo fides: Israel Deo agenti se tradit, qui eum ab eius miseria liberare vult. Domini in Sina adorandi atque terrae promissae hereditatis accipiendae causa fides ad longum iter vocatur. Divinus amor habet patris effigiem qui in itinere suum filium ducit (cfr Dt 1,31). Fidei Israel professio veluti narratio beneficiorum Dei, eius actionis in liberandum regendumque populum (cfr Dt 26,5-11) evolvitur, quam narrationem de generationein generationem populus transmittit. Dei lux Israel per memoriam rerum a Domino factarum coruscat, quas ritus memorant et confitentur, quaeque a parentibus ad filios transmittuntur. Sic discimus lucem a fide delatam cum certa coniungi vitae narratione, cum grata recordatione Dei beneficiorum atque cum eius repromissionibus, quae gradatim explentur. Gothica architectura id probe ostendit: in amplis cathedralibus templis de caelo per fenestras vitreas lux labitur, ubi historia sacra fingitur. Dei lux per eius revelationis narrationem ad nos pervenit, atque sic nostrum iter in tempore illuminare valet, dum divina beneficia memorat, dum demonstrat quomodo eius repromissiones perficiantur.





13. The history of Israel also shows us the temptation of unbelief to which the people yielded more than once. Here the opposite of faith is shown to be idolatry. While Moses is speaking to God on Sinai, the people cannot bear the mystery of God’s hiddenness, they cannot endure the time of waiting to see his face. Faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time. Martin Buber once cited a definition of idolatry proposed by the rabbi of Kock: idolatry is “when a face addresses a face which is not a face”.10 [M. Buber, Die Erzählungen der Chassidim, Zürich, 1949, 793.] In place of faith in God, it seems better to worship an idol, into whose face we can look directly and whose origin we know, because it is the work of our own hands. Before an idol, there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security, for idols “have mouths, but they cannot speak” (Ps 115:5). Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out: “Put your trust in me!” Faith, tied as it is to conversion, is the opposite of idolatry; it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in a personal encounter. Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history. Faith consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God’s call. Herein lies the paradox: by constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the dissolution imposed upon us by idols.

13. Israel historia nobis incredulitatis temptationem adhuc ostendit in quam haud semel incidit populus. Oppositum fidei hic sicut idololatria apparet. Dum in Sina cum Deo loquitur Moyses, absconditi vultus divini mysterium non suffert populus, tempus exspectationis haud patitur. Fides sua natura postulat ut immediata possessio relinquatur, quam visio praebere videtur, invitatio est quaedam ad lucis fontem obtingendum, dum ipsum Vultus mysterium servatur, qui personaliter ac tempore opportuno se revelare vult. Martinus Buber hanc idololatriae definitionem memorabat, quam rabbinus de Kock obtulit: idololatria habetur « cum vultus observanter ad vultum qui non est vultus se convertit ».10 Pro fide in Deum idolum adorare praefertur, cuius vultus figi potest, cuius origo noscitur, quandoquidem a nobis est factum. Coram idolo haud in discrimen versatur facultas alicuius vocationis quae efficiat ut a propriis securitatibus exeatur, quia idola « os habent et non loquentur » (Ps 115,5). Intellegimus tum idolum quandam esse excusationem ut quis in media realitate semet ipsum ponat, cum propriarum manuum opus adoret. Homo, praecipuo amisso cursu, qui unitatem praebet eius exsistentiae, in multiplicia desideria dilabitur; repromissionis tempus opperiri nolens, in sexcenta momenta suae historiae dissipatur. Idcirco idololatria semper est multorum deorum cultus, ex uno ad alium dominum sine intermissione motus. Idololatria nullum iter praebet, sed multiplices semitas, quae certam ad metam non ducunt et labyrinthum potius fingunt. Qui Deo se committere non vult tot idolorum voces auscultare debet quae clamant: « Trade te mihi! ». Fides qua conversione nectitur, idololatriae opponitur; se ab idolis seiungit ut ad Deum viventem redeat, per personalem occursum. Credere significat misericordi amori se tradere, qui usque recipit et ignoscit, qui exsistentiam sustinet ac dirigit, qui ad nostrae historiae pravitates corrigendas multum valet. Adest fides cum quis sit paratus, vocante Domino, ad sese usque denuo transformandum. En paradoxa: cum continenter ad Dominum se convertit, homo solidum iter reperit quod eum a dissipanti motu vindicat, ad quem redigunt eundem idola.





14. In the faith of Israel we also encounter the figure of Moses, the mediator. The people may not see the face of God; it is Moses who speaks to YHWH on the mountain and then tells the others of the Lord’s will. With this presence of a mediator in its midst, Israel learns to journey together in unity. The individual’s act of faith finds its place within a community, within the common “we” of the people who, in faith, are like a single person — “my first-born son”, as God would describe all of Israel (cf. Ex 4:22). Here mediation is not an obstacle, but an opening: through our encounter with others, our gaze rises to a truth greater than ourselves. Rousseau once lamented that he could not see God for himself: “How many people stand between God and me!”11[Émile, Paris, 1966, 387.] … “Is it really so simple and natural that God would have sought out Moses in order to speak to Jean Jacques Rousseau?”12 [Lettre à Christophe de Beaumont, Lausanne, 1993, 110.] On the basis of an individualistic and narrow conception of conscience one cannot appreciate the significance of mediation, this capacity to participate in the vision of another, this shared knowledge which is the knowledge proper to love. Faith is God’s free gift, which calls for humility and the courage to trust and to entrust; it enables us to see the luminous path leading to the encounter of God and humanity: the history of salvation.

14. In Israel fide adest etiam Moyses, mediator. Populus Dei vultum conspicere non potest; Moyses in monte cum YHWH loquitur atque omnibus Domini voluntatem patefacit. Per hunc praesentem mediatorem Israel coniunctim ambulare didicit. Singuli actus fidei in communitatem, in « nos » commune populi inseritur, qui in fide tamquam unus est homo, « filius meus primogenitus », sicut totum Israel vocat Deus (cfr Ex 4,22). Mediatio non fit hic impedimentum, sed patefactio: in aliis conveniendis visus ad veritatem nobis ipsis maiorem vergit. I. I. Rousseau querebatur se Deum personaliter videre non posse: « Quot homines inter Deum et me! »;11 « Estne res omnino plana naturalisque Deum adiisse Moysem Ioannem Iacobum Rousseau allocuturum? ».12 Per individualisticam et angustam cognitionis opinationem mediationis sensus intellegi non potest, facultas haec alterius visionis participandae, scientia communicata quae ad ipsam amoris scientiam spectat. Fides gratuitum est Dei donum quod humilitatem animumque confidendi seque tradendi requirit, ut lucidum iter conspiciatur cum Deus et homines conveniunt, quod est historia salutis.





 The fullness of Christian faith

Fidei christianae plenitudo







15. “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad” (Jn 8:56). According to these words of Jesus, Abraham’s faith pointed to him; in some sense it foresaw his mystery. So Saint Augustine understood it when he stated that the patriarchs were saved by faith, not faith in Christ who had come but in Christ who was yet to come, a faith pressing towards the future of Jesus.13  [Cf. In Ioh. Evang., 45, 9: PL 35, 1722-1723.] Christian faith is centred on Christ; it is the confession that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead (cf. Rom 10:9). All the threads of the Old Testament converge on Christ; he becomes the definitive “Yes” to all the promises, the ultimate basis of our “Amen” to God (cf. 2 Cor 1:20). The history of Jesus is the complete manifestation of God’s reliability. If Israel continued to recall God’s great acts of love, which formed the core of its confession of faith and broadened its gaze in faith, the life of Jesus now appears as the locus of God’s definitive intervention, the supreme manifestation of his love for us. The word which God speaks to us in Jesus is not simply one word among many, but his eternal Word (cf. Heb 1:1-2). God can give no greater guarantee of his love, as Saint Paul reminds us (cf. Rom 8:31-39). Christian faith is thus faith in a perfect love, in its decisive power, in its ability to transform the world and to unfold its history. “We know and believe the love that God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16). In the love of God revealed in Jesus, faith perceives the foundation on which all reality and its final destiny rest.

15. « Abraham […] exsultavit, ut videret diem meum, et vidit et gavisus est » (Io 8,56). Secundum haec Iesu verba, Abraham fides ad Eum dirigebatur, praesumpta erat quodammodo visio eius mysterii. Ita intellegit sanctus Augustinus, cum affirmat Patriarchas per fidem esse salvatos, non per fidem in Christum qui venerat, sed per fidem in Christum venturum, per fidem conversam in Iesu futurum eventum.13 Fides christiana in Christo praecipuum reperit locum, confitetur Iesum esse Dominum quem Deus a mortuis suscitavit (cfr Rom 10,9). Omnes Veteris Testamenti tramites in Christum vergunt, fit Ille « sic » definitum erga omnes repromissiones, fundamentum nostri « Amen » finalis erga Deum (cfr 2 Cor 1,20). Iesu historia plena est manifestatio Dei fiduciae. Si Israel spectabiles res gestas Dei amoris memorabat, quae eius confessionis cardinem efficiebant et visum eius fidei patefaciebant, nunc Iesu vita tamquam locus apparet consummati Dei interventus, eius pro nobis summa amoris manifestatio. Quod in Iesu nobis dicit Deus, id non est verbum tot aliis additum, sed eius aeternum Verbum (cfr Heb 1,1-2). Nullam cautionem maiorem praestare potest Deus, ut de suo amore nos certiores faciat, sicut memorat sanctus Paulus (Rom 8,31-39). Fides ideo christiana fides est in Amore pleno, in eius efficaci virtute, in eius potestate mundi mutandi illuminandique temporis. « Et nos, qui credidimus, novimus caritatem, quam habet Deus in nobis » (1 Io 4,16). Fides in Dei amore qui in Iesu manifestatur fundamentum percipit in quo natura et eius postrema destinatio nituntur.





16. The clearest proof of the reliability of Christ’s love is to be found in his dying for our sake. If laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest proof of love (cf. Jn 15:13), Jesus offered his own life for all, even for his enemies, to transform their hearts. This explains why the evangelists could see the hour of Christ’s crucifixion as the culmination of the gaze of faith; in that hour the depth and breadth of God’s love shone forth. It was then that Saint John offered his solemn testimony, as together with the Mother of Jesus he gazed upon the pierced one (cf. Jn 19:37): “He who saw this has borne witness, so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth” (Jn 19:35). In Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, Prince Myskin sees a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger depicting Christ dead in the tomb and says: “Looking at that painting might cause one to lose his faith”.14 [Pt II, IV.] The painting is a gruesome portrayal of the destructive effects of death on Christ’s body. Yet it is precisely in contemplating Jesus’ death that faith grows stronger and receives a dazzling light; then it is revealed as faith in Christ’s steadfast love for us, a love capable of embracing death to bring us salvation. This love, which did not recoil before death in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely.

16. Summum amoris Christi fiduciae documentum in eius pro homine morte reperitur. Si vitam pro amicis tradere maximum est amoris documentum (cfr Io 15,13), Iesus pro omnibus, etiam pro iis qui erant inimici vitam obtulit, ut cor immutaret. Haec causa est cur Evangelistae in Crucis hora fastigium posuerint fidei contuitus, quandoquidem illa hora divini amoris altitudo et amplitudo splendent.Sanctus Ioannes hic suam sollemnem testificationem locavit, cum, una cum Matre Iesu, quem transfixerunt est contemplatus (cfr Io 19,37). « Et qui vidit, testimonium perhibuit, et verum est eius testimonium, et ille scit quia vera dicit, ut vos credatis » (Io 19,35). F. M. Dostoevskij, in suo opere, quod est Idiota, primas gerentem partes principem Myškin inducit, qui, videns Christi mortui in sepulcro opus pictum, quod Ioannes Holbein Iunior fecit, dicit: « Tabula illa picta efficeret etiam ut quis fidem amitteret ».14 Etenim opus pictum peraspere consumptorios in corpore Iesu mortis effectus fingit. Attamen in ipsa Iesu morte contemplanda fides roboratur atque fulgidam lucem recipit, cum ipsa erga eius inconcussum pro nobis amorem ut fides revelatur, qui in mortem nos ad salvandos intrare valet. Hic amor, qui mortem non recusavit ut significaret quantopere me amaret, credi potest; eius totum omnem suspicionem vincit atque sinit ut nos prorsus Christo committamus.





17. Christ’s death discloses the utter reliability of God’s love above all in the light of his resurrection. As the risen one, Christ is the trustworthy witness, deserving of faith (cf. Rev 1:5; Heb 2:17), and a solid support for our faith. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile”, says Saint Paul (1 Cor 15:17). Had the Father’s love not caused Jesus to rise from the dead, had it not been able to restore his body to life, then it would not be a completely reliable love, capable of illuminating also the gloom of death. When Saint Paul describes his new life in Christ, he speaks of “faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Clearly, this “faith in the Son of God” means Paul’s faith in Jesus, but it also presumes that Jesus himself is worthy of faith, based not only on his having loved us even unto death but also on his divine sonship. Precisely because Jesus is the Son, because he is absolutely grounded in the Father, he was able to conquer death and make the fullness of life shine forth. Our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises. It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

17. Christi utique mors totam Dei amoris fiduciam patefacit sub Resurrectionis lumine. Ut resuscitatus, Christus credibilis est testis, fide dignus (cfr Apc 1,5; Heb 2,17), solidum nostrae fidei fulcimentum. Sanctus Paulus edicit: « Quod si Christus non resurrexit, stulta est fides vestra, adhuc estis in peccatis vestris » (1 Cor 15,17). Si Patris amor non effecisset ut Iesus a mortuis resurgeret, si vitam eius corpori restituere nequisset, tunc non esset prorsus credibilis amor, qui etiam mortis tenebras discuteret. Cum sanctus Paulus sua de nova in Christo vita loquitur, ad fidem se refert « Filii Dei, qui dilexit me et tradidit seipsum pro me » (Gal 2, 20). Haec « fides Filii Dei » procul dubio fides est Apostoli gentium in Iesum, sed Iesu fiduciam prae se etiam fert, quae sic in eius amore innititur usque ad mortem, sed etiam in eo quod ipse Filius est Dei. Utpote cum Iesus Filius sit, quoniam absolute in Patre sistit, mortem vincere et efficere ut vita in plenitudine splendesceret potuit. Nostra cultura facultatem amisit concretam Dei praesentiam, eius actionem in mundo percipiendi. Opinamur Deum alibi solummodo, in alio realitatis gradu, a nostris concretis necessitudinibus seiunctum reperiri. At si ita esset, si Deus in mundo agere nequiret, eius amor vere potens, vere realis non esset, atque ne verus quidem amor esset, qui illam promissam felicitatem adimplere valeret. Credere aut in eum non credere omnino tunc indifferens esset. Christiani vero concretum ac potentem Dei amorem confitentur, qui in historia vere operatur eiusque finalem sortem statuit, qui amor conveniri potest, qui in Christi Passione, Morte ac Resurrectione cumulate revelatus est.





18. This fullness which Jesus brings to faith has another decisive aspect. In faith, Christ is not simply the one in whom we believe, the supreme manifestation of God’s love; he is also the one with whom we are united precisely in order to believe. Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing. In many areas in our lives we trust others who know more than we do. We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court. We also need someone trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned. Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who makes God known to us (cf. Jn 1:18). Christ’s life, his way of knowing the Father and living in complete and constant relationship with him, opens up new and inviting vistas for human experience. Saint John brings out the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus for our faith by using various forms of the verb “to believe”. In addition to “believing that” what Jesus tells us is true, John also speaks of “believing” Jesus and “believing in” Jesus. We “believe” Jesus when we accept his word, his testimony, because he is truthful. We “believe in” Jesus when we personally welcome him into our lives and journey towards him, clinging to him in love and following in his footsteps along the way.

18. Plenitudini, cui Iesus affert fidem, aliquid decretorii subest. In fide Christus non est tantum Is in quem credimus, summa amoris Dei manifestatio, verum etiam Is quocum coniungimur ut credamus. Fides non modo Iesum contuetur, sed ex parte Iesu, eius oculis, contuetur: ipsius rationis videndi est participatio. In tot vitae vicibus aliis personis committimus nos, qui melius quam nos res noverunt. Architecto confidimus, qui nostram domum aedificat, pharmacopolae qui nobis medicamenta ad sanationem obtinendam praebet, advocato qui apud tribunal nos defendit. Indigemus etiam aliquo qui in rebus Dei credibilis sit et peritus. Iesus, eius Filius, se ostendit ut isqui nobis Deum patefacit (cfr Io 1,18). Christi vita, eius ratio Patris cognoscendi, in necessitudine cum Eo penitus vivendi, novum dat locum humanae experientiae et nos illuc ingredi possumus. Sanctus Ioannes momentum ostendit personalis necessitudinis cum Iesu pro nostra fide per varios verbi credendi usus. Una cum « credere » verum esse quod dicit Iesus (cfr Io 14,10; 20,31), Ioannes locutione utitur « credere Iesu » atque « credere in Iesum ». « Iesu » credimus, cum eius Verbum, eius testificationem accipimus, quia verum dicit (cfr Io 6,30). « Credimus in » Iesum, cum Eum nostram in vitam personaliter recipimus atque Ei nos tradimus, Ei in amore adhaerentes Eumque in via persequentes (cfr Io 2,11; 6,47; 12,44).

To enable us to know, accept and follow him, the Son of God took on our flesh. In this way he also saw the Father humanly, within the setting of a journey unfolding in time. Christian faith is faith in the incarnation of the Word and his bodily resurrection; it is faith in a God who is so close to us that he entered our human history. Far from divorcing us from reality, our faith in the Son of God made man in Jesus of Nazareth enables us to grasp reality’s deepest meaning and to see how much God loves this world and is constantly guiding it towards himself. This leads us, as Christians, to live our lives in this world with ever greater commitment and intensity.

Ut nos eum cognoscere, recipere ac sequi sineret, Dei Filius nostram carnem sumpsit, atque sic eius Patris visio humana etiam ratione per temporis iter cursumque effecta est. Christiana fides in Incarnationem Verbi est fides atque eius in carne Resurrectionem. Fides est in Deum, qui sic proximus est factus ut in nostram historiam intraverit. Fides in Dei Filium hominem factum in IesuNazareno a realitate nos non seiungit, sed sinit ut percipiamus altissimam eius significationem, detegamus quantopere Deus hunc mundum adamet eundemque continenter ad Se dirigat; et id requirit ut christianus operosius terrestre iter tenere studeat.





 Salvation by faith

Per fidem salus







19. On the basis of this sharing in Jesus’ way of seeing things, Saint Paul has left us a description of the life of faith. In accepting the gift of faith, believers become a new creation; they receive a new being; as God’s children, they are now “sons in the Son”. The phrase “Abba, Father”, so characteristic of Jesus’ own experience, now becomes the core of the Christian experience (cf. Rom 8:15). The life of faith, as a filial existence, is the acknowledgment of a primordial and radical gift which upholds our lives. We see this clearly in Saint Paul’s question to the Corinthians: “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). This was at the very heart of Paul’s debate with the Pharisees: the issue of whether salvation is attained by faith or by the works of the law. Paul rejects the attitude of those who would consider themselves justified before God on the basis of their own works. Such people, even when they obey the commandments and do good works, are centred on themselves; they fail to realize that goodness comes from God. Those who live this way, who want to be the source of their own righteousness, find that the latter is soon depleted and that they are unable even to keep the law. They become closed in on themselves and isolated from the Lord and from others; their lives become futile and their works barren, like a tree far from water. Saint Augustine tells us in his usual concise and striking way: “Ab eo qui fecit te, noli deficere nec ad te”, “Do not turn away from the one who made you, even to turn towards yourself”.15 [De Continentia, 4, 11: PL 40, 356.] Once I think that by turning away from God I will find myself, my life begins to fall apart (cf. Lk 15:11-24). The beginning of salvation is openness to something prior to ourselves, to a primordial gift that affirms life and sustains it in being. Only by being open to and acknowledging this gift can we be transformed, experience salvation and bear good fruit. Salvation by faith means recognizing the primacy of God’s gift. As Saint Paul puts it: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).

19. Ab hac videndi rationis Iesu participatione sumens initium, Paulus apostolus suis in scriptis de credentis exsistentia descriptionem reliquit. Qui credit, fidei donum recipiens, in novam creaturam convertitur, novam naturam, naturam filialem suscipit, in Filio fit filius. « Abbà, Pater » prae omnibus singulare in Iesu experientia est verbum, quod in christiana experientia praecipuum obtinet locum (cfr Rom 8,15). In fide vita, quatenus filialis exsistentia, agnitio est primigenii et absoluti doni, quod in fundamento positum est hominis exsistentiae, atque summatim sententia sancti Pauli ad Corinthios referri potest: « Quid autem habes, quod non accepisti? » (1 Cor 4,7). Hoc ipso in loco contentionis sancti Pauli cardo cum Pharisaeis ponitur, disputatio de salute per fidem aut per legis opera. Ipsam opinationem respuit sanctus Paulus illius qui se ipsum coram Deo operando iustificare vult. Hic, etiam cum mandatis obtemperat, etiam cum bona opera patrat, se in medio loco ipse ponit, atque non agnoscit bonitatem a Deo procedere. Qui sic operatur, qui propriae iustitiae fons esse vult, eam mox videt deficere atque detegit se ne fidelem quidem legi manere posse. Se concludit, a Domino seiunctus et a ceteris, atque hac de causa eius vita vana, eius opera infecunda fiunt, sicut arbor ab aqua seposita. Sanctus Augustinus ita est suis verbis efficax et pressus: « Ab eo qui fecit te noli deficere nec ad te ».15 Cum cogitat homo, dum a Deo recedit, se ipsum inventurum, eius exsistentia deficit (cfr Lc 15,11-24). Salutis est initium cum patefactio fit alicuius praecedentis, primigenii doni, quod vitam confirmat exsistentiamque tuetur. In huius originis patefactione eiusque agnitione tantum converti possumus, ut in nobis operetur salus et nostram vitam fecundam reddat, bonis fructibus repletam. Per fidem salus in eo stat ut primus locus agnoscatur Dei doni, quemadmodum summatim asserit sanctus Paulus: « Gratia enim estis salvati per fidem; et hoc non ex vobis, Dei donum est » (Eph 2,8).





20. Faith’s new way of seeing things is centred on Christ. Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us. This is clearly seen in Saint Paul’s exegesis of a text from Deuteronomy, an exegesis consonant with the heart of the Old Testament message. Moses tells the people that God’s command is neither too high nor too far away. There is no need to say: “Who will go up for us to heaven and bring it to us?” or “Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us?” (Dt 30:11-14). Paul interprets this nearness of God’s word in terms of Christ’s presence in the Christian. “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)” (Rom 10:6-7). Christ came down to earth and rose from the dead; by his incarnation and resurrection, the Son of God embraced the whole of human life and history, and now dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Faith knows that God has drawn close to us, that Christ has been given to us as a great gift which inwardly transforms us, dwells within us and thus bestows on us the light that illumines the origin and the end of life.

20. Nova fidei logica in Christo nititur. Fides in Christo nos salvat, quia in Eo vita funditus ad Amorem aperitur, qui nos antecedit et intrinsecus nos commutat, qui in nobis ac nobiscum agit. Id in explicatione plane patet, cum Apostolus gentium quendam Deuteronomii locum interpretatur, quae explicatio in altiorem Veteris Testamenti vim recidit. Populo dicit Moyses Dei mandatum neque supra esse neque ab homine procul. Non est dicendum: « Quis ascendet in caelum ut id capiamus? » vel « Quis pro nobis mare transibit ut id capiamus? » (cfr Dt 30,11-14). Hanc Dei verbi propinquitatem ut Christi in christiano praesentiam interpretatur sanctus Paulus: « “Ne dixeris in corde tuo: Quis ascendet in caelum?”, id est Christum deducere; aut: “ Quis descendet in abyssum?”, hoc est Christum a mortuis revocare » (Rom 10,6-7). In terram descendit Christus atque a mortuis resurrexit; sua Incarnatione ac Resurrectione Dei Filius totum hominis iter est complexus et per Spiritum Sanctum in cordibus nostris commoratur. Fides scit Deum nobis factum esse proximum, Christum veluti magnum donum nobis esse datum, qui nos intus commutat, qui in nobis habitat, atque sic nobis praebet lucem quae vitae originem finemque, totum humani itineris cursum illuminat.





21. We come to see the difference, then, which faith makes for us. Those who believe are transformed by the love to which they have opened their hearts in faith. By their openness to this offer of primordial love, their lives are enlarged and expanded. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17). The self-awareness of the believer now expands because of the presence of another; it now lives in this other and thus, in love, life takes on a whole new breadth. Here we see the Holy Spirit at work. The Christian can see with the eyes of Jesus and share in his mind, his filial disposition, because he or she shares in his love, which is the Spirit. In the love of Jesus, we receive in a certain way his vision. Without being conformed to him in love, without the presence of the Spirit, it is impossible to confess him as Lord (cf. 1 Cor 12:3).

21. Sic novitatem intellegere possumus, ad quam nos perducit fides. Credens Amore mutatur, cui in fide panditur et in huic Amori se aperiendo qui ei offertur, eius exsistentia ultra eum extenditur. Sanctus Paulus edicere potest: « Vivo autem iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus » (Gal 2,20), itemque cohortari: « Habitare Christum per fidem in cordibus vestris » (Eph 3,17). In fide « ego » credentis dilatatur ut ab Altero habitetur, ut in Altero vivat, et sic eius in Amore vita expanditur. Hic Spiritus Sancti actio sita est. Christianus Iesu oculos, eius affectiones, eius filialem inclinationem habere potest, quandoquidem eius Amorem communicat, qui est Spiritus. Hoc in Amore visionem Iesu propriam quodammodo recipit. Extra hanc in Amore conformationem, extra Spiritus praesentiam qui eum in cordibus nostris diffundit (cfr Rom 5,5), Iesum confiteri ut Dominum non possumus (cfr 1 Cor 12,3).





 The ecclesial form of faith

Ecclesialis fidei effigies







22. In this way, the life of the believer becomes an ecclesial existence, a life lived in the Church. When Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome that all who believe in Christ make up one body, he urges them not to boast of this; rather, each must think of himself “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom 12:3). Those who believe come to see themselves in the light of the faith which they profess: Christ is the mirror in which they find their own image fully realized. And just as Christ gathers to himself all those who believe and makes them his body, so the Christian comes to see himself as a member of this body, in an essential relationship with all other believers. The image of a body does not imply that the believer is simply one part of an anonymous whole, a mere cog in great machine; rather, it brings out the vital union of Christ with believers, and of believers among themselves (cf. Rom 12:4-5) Christians are “one” (cf. Gal 3:28), yet in a way which does not make them lose their individuality; in service to others, they come into their own in the highest degree. This explains why, apart from this body, outside this unity of the Church in Christ, outside this Church which — in the words of Romano Guardini — “is the bearer within history of the plenary gaze of Christ on the world” 16 [“Vom Wesen katholischer Weltanschauung” (1923), in Unterscheidung des Christlichen. Gesammelte Studien 1923-1963, Mainz, 1963, 24.] — faith loses its “measure”; it no longer finds its equilibrium, the space needed to sustain itself. Faith is necessarily ecclesial; it is professed from within the body of Christ as a concrete communion of believers. It is against this ecclesial backdrop that faith opens the individual Christian towards all others. Christ’s word, once heard, by virtue of its inner power at work in the heart of the Christian, becomes a response, a spoken word, a profession of faith. As Saint Paul puts it: “one believes with the heart ... and confesses with the lips” (Rom 10:10). Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed. For “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14). Faith becomes operative in the Christian on the basis of the gift received, the love which attracts our hearts to Christ (cf. Gal 5:6), and enables us to become part of the Church’s great pilgrimage through history until the end of the world. For those who have been transformed in this way, a new way of seeing opens up, faith becomes light for their eyes.

22. Hoc modo credens exsistentia ecclesialis fit exsistentia. Cum sanctus Paulus Romanis christianis de uno illo corpore loquitur omnes credentes esse in Christo, eos exhortatur ne glorientur; quisque contra ponderare se debet « sicut Deus divisit mensuram fidei » (Rom 12,3). Credens discit se ipsum considerare, initium a fide sumens quam profitetur. Christi effigies speculum est in quo propriam imaginem consummatam detegit. Atque sicut Christus in se omnes credentes amplectitur, eius corpus constituentes, christianus se ipsum hoc in corpore comprehendit, in primigenia cum Christo fratribusque in fide necessitudine. Corporis imago credentem meram partem alicuius universitatis anonymae, merum elementum magni cuiusdam machinamenti efficere non vult, sed potius vitalem Christi cum credentibus omniumque inter se credentium coniunctionem extollit (cfr Rom 12,4-5). Christiani « unum » sunt (cfr Gal 3,28), minime propriam cuiusque naturam amittentes, et aliis inserviens penitus semet ipsum quisque lucratur. Tunc intellegitur quare extra hoc corpus, hanc Ecclesiae in Christo unitatem, hanc Ecclesiam quae – ad Romani Guardini verba – « est historica latrix obtutus Christi, omnia complectentis, in mundum »,16 fides suam mensuram amittat, suam aequabilitatem, necessarium spatium ad se sustentandum iam non reperiat. Fides forma quadam fruitur quae necessario est ecclesialis, intra Christi corpus, veluti concretam credentium communionem se confitetur. Ex hoc ecclesiali loco singulos christianos ad omnes homines aperit. Christi verbum, semel auditum atque sua vi, apud christianum in responsionem convertitur, et ipsum fit verbum enuntiatum, fidei confessio. Sanctus Paulus enuntiat: « Corde enim creditur […], ore autem confessio fit ad salutem » (Rom 10,10). Fides non est res privata, individualistica quaestio, subiectiva opinio, sed ex auditu oritur atque illuc tendit ut enuntietur ac nuntius fiat. Nam « quomodo credent ei, quem non audierunt? Quomodo autem audient sine praedicante » (Rom 10,14). Fides tunc in christiano operatur, initio sumpto a recepto dono, ab Amore qui ad Christum trahit (cfr Gal 5,6) atque efficit ut iter Ecclesiae communicetur, in historia peregrinae ad consummationem. Ei qui hoc modo est mutatus nova videndi ratio patet, fides eius oculis fit lux.

Ch. 2 Unless You Believe Yo Will Not Understand






(cf. Is 7:9)

(cfr Is 7,9)







23. Unless you believe, you will not understand (cf. Is 7:9). The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint translation produced in Alexandria, gives the above rendering of the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz. In this way, the issue of the knowledge of truth became central to faith. The Hebrew text, though, reads differently; the prophet says to the king: “If you will not believe, you shall not be established”. Here there is a play on words, based on two forms of the verb ’amān: “you will believe” (ta’amînû) and “you shall be established” (tē’āmēnû). Terrified by the might of his enemies, the king seeks the security that an alliance with the great Assyrian empire can offer. The prophet tells him instead to trust completely in the solid and steadfast rock which is the God of Israel. Because God is trustworthy, it is reasonable to have faith in him, to stand fast on his word. He is the same God that Isaiah will later call, twice in one verse, the God who is Amen, “the God of truth” (cf. Is 65:16), the enduring foundation of covenant fidelity. It might seem that the Greek version of the Bible, by translating “be established” as “understand”, profoundly altered the meaning of the text by moving away from the biblical notion of trust in God towards a Greek notion of intellectual understanding. Yet this translation, while certainly reflecting a dialogue with Hellenistic culture, is not alien to the underlying spirit of the Hebrew text. The firm foundation that Isaiah promises to the king is indeed grounded in an understanding of God’s activity and the unity which he gives to human life and to the history of his people. The prophet challenges the king, and us, to understand the Lord’s ways, seeing in God’s faithfulness the wise plan which governs the ages. Saint Augustine took up this synthesis of the ideas of “understanding” and “being established” in his Confessions when he spoke of the truth on which one may rely in order to stand fast: “Then I shall be cast and set firm in the mould of your truth”. 17 [XI, 30, 40: PL 32, 825.]  From the context we know that Augustine was concerned to show that this trustworthy truth of God is, as the Bible makes clear, his own faithful presence throughout history, his ability to hold together times and ages, and to gather into one the scattered strands of our lives.18 [Cf. ibid., 825-826.]

23. Si non credideritis, non intellegetis (cfr Is 7,9). Graeca Bibliorum Hebraicorum versio, Septuaginta versio, quae Alexandriae Aegypti effecta est, sic Isaiae prophetae conversa verba ad Achaz regem est interpretata. Hoc modo veritatis cognoscendae quaestio medium fidei locum obtinebat. Attamen in Hebraico scripto aliter legimus. In ipso regi dicit propheta: « Si non credideritis, non permanebitis ». Adest hic quidem verborum lusus ex duabus formis verbi ’amàn: « credideritis » (ta’aminu) et « permanebitis » (te’amenu). Suorum inimicorum vi perterritus, rex securitatem requirit quae ex foedere cum magno Assyriae imperio evenire potest. Tunc propheta eum invitat ut verae petrae tantum confidat, quae non vacillat, Israel Deo. Quoniam credibilis est Deus, consentaneum est Ei confidere, propriam securitatem eius in Verbo aedificare. Hic est Deus quemIsaias « Deum Amen » (Is 65,16) bis infra vocat, inconcussum fidelitatis erga foedus fundamentum. Cogitari potest Graecam Bibliorum versionem, dum « esse firmum » cum « comprehendere » verteret, textum funditus immutavisse, biblica notione erga Deum fiduciae in Graecam comprehensionis rationem translata. Attamen haec versio, quae sine dubio dialogum cum Hellenico cultu constituebat, a dynamica altaque vi Hebraici textus aliena non est. Etenim firmitudo quam Isaias regi pollicetur per Dei agentis eiusdemque unitatis comprehensionem transit, quam Ipse vitae hominis suique populi historiae tribuit. Propheta ad Domini vias intellegendas cohortatur, in Dei fidelitate sapientiae consilium reperiens quae saecula moderatur. Sanctus Augustinus summatim « comprehendere » et « firmum esse » suis in Confessionibus perstrinxit, cum de veritate loqueretur cui committi staturi possunt: « Et stabo atque solidabor in te, in forma mea, veritate tua ».17 Ex contextu novimus sanctum Augustinum rationem ostendere velle quo pacto credibilis haec Dei veritas, quemadmodum ex Bibliis emergit, eius sit fidelis annorum decursu praesentia, eius facultas tempora simul complectendi, hominis dierum colligendo dissipationem.18





24. Read in this light, the prophetic text leads to one conclusion: we need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward. Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing. It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves. Either that, or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life. If such were faith, King Ahaz would be right not to stake his life and the security of his kingdom on a feeling. But precisely because of its intrinsic link to truth, faith is instead able to offer a new light, superior to the king’s calculations, for it sees further into the distance and takes into account the hand of God, who remains faithful to his covenant and his promises.

24. Isaiae locus, hoc sub lumine lectus, ad quandam considerationem ducit: cognitione homini opus est, veritate opus est, quia, ea dempta, non sustinetur, non progreditur. Fides sine veritate non salvat, nostros gressus securos non reddit. Pulchra manet fabula, nostrorum felicitatis desideriorum proiectio, aliquid quod ad mensuram illam nos satisfacit qua nos fallere volumus. Aut in pulchram quandam redigitur animi affectionem, quae consolatur et fovet, sed animo nostro mutanti, temporum vicissitudinibus subicitur, nec continuatum vitae iter sustinere valet. Si fides ita esset, Achaz rex recte ageret suam vitam ac sui regni securitatem animi quadam commotione in discrimine haud ponens. At contra suam per intraneam coniunctionem cum veritate fides novam lucem ministrare valet, quae regis rationes praetergreditur, quandoquidem longius videt, quia Deum agentem intellegit, suo foederi suisque repromissionibus fidelem.





25. Today more than ever, we need to be reminded of this bond between faith and truth, given the crisis of truth in our age. In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable. Nowadays this appears as the only truth that is certain, the only truth that can be shared, the only truth that can serve as a basis for discussion or for common undertakings. Yet at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual, which consist in fidelity to his or her deepest convictions, yet these are truths valid only for that individual and not capable of being proposed to others in an effort to serve the common good. But Truth itself, the truth which would comprehensively explain our life as individuals and in society, is regarded with suspicion. Surely this kind of truth — we hear it said — is what was claimed by the great totalitarian movements of the last century, a truth that imposed its own world view in order to crush the actual lives of individuals. In the end, what we are left with is relativism, in which the question of universal truth — and ultimately this means the question of God — is no longer relevant. It would be logical, from this point of view, to attempt to sever the bond between religion and truth, because it seems to lie at the root of fanaticism, which proves oppressive for anyone who does not share the same beliefs. In this regard, though, we can speak of a massive amnesia in our contemporary world. The question of truth is really a question of memory, deep memory, for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path.

25. Fidei coniunctionem cum veritate revocare hodie magis quam umquam est necessarium, utique propter veritatis discrimen in quo versamur. In hodierno cultu saepenumero mos est veritatem suscipiendi technologiae tantum: solummodo id verum est quod aedificare homo atque sua scientia metiri valet, verum quia suo fungitur munere, et ita commodiorem facilioremque vitam reddit. Haec certa veritas hodie una videtur, una cum aliis participanda, una quae agitari ac simul recipi potest. Ceterum singuli sunt porro veritates quae sunt ut quisque verus sit coram eo quod intrinsecus animadvertit, quae individuo tantum valent quaeque sub obtentu bono communi inserviendi ad alios proponi non possunt. Magna veritas, veritas nempe quae personalem socialemque vitam explicat, suspiciose cernitur. Nonne haec fuit – interrogatur – veritas quam magni totalitarismi praeterito saeculo sibi vindicarunt, veritas quidem quae propriam imponebat universalem opinationem ut concreta singuli historia contereretur? Solum tunc relativismus quidam manet in quo de veritate omnium rerum interrogatio, quae tandem interrogatio est quoque de Deo, non amplius movet. Hoc in rerum prospectu intellegitur religionis coniunctionem cum veritate deleri velle, quoniam haec coniunctio in erroris fanatici fundamento ponitur, qui illum opprimere vult qui propriam opinionem non participat. Quocirca de magna oblivione in huius aetatis mundo loqui possumus. Etenim de veritate interrogatio est memoriae quaestio, altae quidem memoriae, quandoquidem ad id vertitur quod nos antecedit atque hac ratione praeter nostrum « ego » pusillum et angustum nos coniungere potest. Interrogatio est de omnium rerum origine, sub cuius lumine meta simul atque communis viae sensus conspici possunt.





 Knowledge of the truth and love

Veritatis amorisque cognitio







26. This being the case, can Christian faith provide a service to the common good with regard to the right way of understanding truth? To answer this question, we need to reflect on the kind of knowledge involved in faith. Here a saying of Saint Paul can help us: “One believes with the heart” (Rom 10:10). In the Bible, the heart is the core of the human person, where all his or her different dimensions intersect: body and spirit, interiority and openness to the world and to others, intellect, will and affectivity. If the heart is capable of holding all these dimensions together, it is because it is where we become open to truth and love, where we let them touch us and deeply transform us. Faith transforms the whole person precisely to the extent that he or she becomes open to love. Through this blending of faith and love we come to see the kind of knowledge which faith entails, its power to convince and its ability to illumine our steps. Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment. Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes.

26. Hac in condicione potestne christiana fides bono communi operam dare ut aequa ratione intellegatur veritas? Ad respondendum necesse est cogitare de cognitionis genere quod est fidei proprium. Sententia sancti Pauli nobis opem ferre potest, cum asserit: « Corde creditur » (Rom 10,10). Cor apud Biblia medium locum in homine occupat, ubi omnes eius qualitates complicantur: corpus et spiritus; interior personae pars et eius mundo ceterisque patefactio; intellectus, voluntas, affectio. Utique si cor has qualitates congregatas servare valet, istud fit quia id est locus ubi nos ad veritatem amoremque convertimur atque sinimus ut nos contingant et penitus immutent. Fides totam personam mutat, eo quod ad amorem se aperit. In hac fidei cum amore complicatione cognitionis forma intellegitur, quae est fidei propria, eius persuasionis vis, eius facultas nostros gressus illuminandi. Fides novit prout cum amore coniungitur, prout amor ipse ad lucem ducit. Fidei intellectio ea est quae oritur cum magnum Dei amorem recipimus qui intrinsecus nos commutat atque nobis novos oculos ad realitatem perspiciendam praebet.





27. The explanation of the connection between faith and certainty put forward by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is well known. For Wittgenstein, believing can be compared to the experience of falling in love: it is something subjective which cannot be proposed as a truth valid for everyone.19 [Cf. Vermischte Bemerkungen / Culture and Value, ed. G.H. von Wright, Oxford, 1991, 32-33; 61-64.] Indeed, most people nowadays would not consider love as related in any way to truth. Love is seen as an experience associated with the world of fleeting emotions, no longer with truth.

27. Cognita est ratio qua philosophus Ludovicus Wittgenstein inter fidem et certitudinem nexum explicavit. Credere, ad eius sententiam, amoris aestus experientiae assimilatur, quae habetur quiddam subiectivum, quae uti valida veritas ad omnes referri non potest.19 Etenim huius aetatis homini amoris quaestio haud verum afficere videtur. Amor hodie experientia est quaedam, quae inconstantibus animi affectionibus non iam veritate circumscribitur.

But is this an adequate description of love? Love cannot be reduced to an ephemeral emotion. True, it engages our affectivity, but in order to open it to the beloved and thus to blaze a trail leading away from self-centredness and towards another person, in order to build a lasting relationship; love aims at union with the beloved. Here we begin to see how love requires truth. Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey. If love is not tied to truth, it falls prey to fickle emotions and cannot stand the test of time. True love, on the other hand, unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light pointing the way to a great and fulfilled life. Without truth, love is incapable of establishing a firm bond; it cannot liberate our isolated ego or redeem it from the fleeting moment in order to create life and bear fruit.

Estne utique haec aequa amoris descriptio? Amor reapse ad quandam animi affectionem redigi non potest, quae it redit. Is quidem nostram affectionem attingit, sed ut amatae personae eam aperiat et ita iter incohet, quod exire a proprio « ego » et ad aliam personam accedere sibi vult ut stabilis necessitudo instituatur. Amor cum persona amata coniunctioni consulit. Tunc manifestatur quo pacto veritate indigeat amor. Solum prout in veritate nititur, amor progrediente tempore perstare, vanum momentum superare et firmus manere potest, ad iter commune sustinendum. Si amor cum veritate necessitudinem non instituit, affectionibus mutabilibus est obnoxius et temporis discrimen non aufert. Verus autem amor omnia nostrae personae elementa coniungit atque ad magnam vitam plenamque lux nova fit. Absque veritate amor solidum vinculum afferre non potest, « ego » ultra eius solitudinem neque ferre neque id a fugaci momento vindicare valet, ad vitam aedificandam et fructum afferendum.

If love needs truth, truth also needs love. Love and truth are inseparable. Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people’s day-to-day lives.

Si quidem indiget amor veritate, veritas quoque amore indiget. Amor et veritas seiungi non possunt. Sine amore veritas fit frigida, nullius nominis, gravis quod ad concretam personae vitam attinet.

The truth we seek, the truth that gives meaning to our journey through life, enlightens us whenever we are touched by love. One who loves realizes that love is an experience of truth, that it opens our eyes to see reality in a new way, in union with the beloved. In this sense, Saint Gregory the Great could write that “amor ipse notitia est”, love is itself a kind of knowledge possessed of its own logic.20 [Hom. in Evang.II, 27, 4: PL 76, 1207.] It is a relational way of viewing the world, which then becomes a form of shared knowledge, vision through the eyes of another and a shared vision of all that exists. William of Saint-Thierry, in the Middle Ages, follows this tradition when he comments on the verse of the Song of Songs where the lover says to the beloved, “Your eyes are doves” (Song 1:15).21 [Cf. Exp. sup. Cant. Cant., XVIII, 88: CCL, Cont.Med. 87, 67.] The two eyes, says William, are faith-filled reason and love, which then become one in rising to the contemplation of God, when our understanding becomes “an understanding of enlightened love”.22 [Ibid., XIX, 90: CCL, Continuatio Mediaevalis 87, 69.]

Veritas quam quaerimus, quae ipsa nempe significationem nostris gressibus praebet, nos illuminat cum amore tangimur. Qui amat intellegit esse amorem experientiam veritatis, ipsum nostros oculos aperire ut nova ratione omnem realitatem una cum persona amata conspiciamus. Hac notione, sanctus Gregorius Magnus scripsit: «Amor ipse notitia est», quae secumfert novam rationem.20 Agitur de relationali modo inspiciendi mundum, qui mutua cognitio efficitur, visio in alterius visione et communis visio omnium rerum. Guillelmus a Sancto Theodorico Media aetate hanc sequitur traditionem cum versum interpretatur Cantici Canticorum in quo dilectus dicit dilectae: «Oculi tui columbarum» (Ct 1,15).21 Hi duo oculi, Guillelmus illustrat, sunt ratio credens et amor qui unus oculus fiunt ut Deum contemplari possimus, cum intellectus fit «intellectus amoris illuminati».22





28. This discovery of love as a source of knowledge, which is part of the primordial experience of every man and woman, finds authoritative expression in the biblical understanding of faith. In savouring the love by which God chose them and made them a people, Israel came to understand the overall unity of the divine plan. Faith-knowledge, because it is born of God’s covenantal love, is knowledge which lights up a path in history. That is why, in the Bible, truth and fidelity go together: the true God is the God of fidelity who keeps his promises and makes possible, in time, a deeper understanding of his plan. Through the experience of the prophets, in the pain of exile and in the hope of a definitive return to the holy city, Israel came to see that this divine “truth” extended beyond the confines of its own history, to embrace the entire history of the world, beginning with creation. Faith-knowledge sheds light not only on the destiny of one particular people, but the entire history of the created world, from its origins to its consummation.

28. Haec amoris inventio veluti fons cognitionis, quae ad originalem experientiam pertinet cuiusque hominis, probando biblicae fidei conceptu nititur. Amorem degustans quo Deus elegit eum atque uti populum constituit, Israel percipere poterat unitatem divini consilii, ab origine usque ad consummationem. Cognitio fidei, siquidem ex amore Dei oritur qui Foedus ferit, est cognitio quae in historia iter illuminat. Hanc ob rem porro in Sacris Scripturis veritas et fidelitas insimul procedunt: Deus verus est Deus fidelis, qui servat suas repromissiones et sinit in tempore suum intellegere consilium. Per experientiam prophetarum, in dolore exsilii et in spe definitivi in civitatem sanctam reditus, Israel percepit hanc Dei veritatem ultra propriam historiam extendi, ad integram mundi historiam amplectendam, inde a creatione. Cognitio fidei non solum peculiare unius populi iter illuminat, sed totum cursum mundi creati, ab eius origine usque ad consummationem.





 Faith as hearing and sight

Fides veluti auditio et visio







29. Precisely because faith-knowledge is linked to the covenant with a faithful God who enters into a relationship of love with man and speaks his word to him, the Bible presents it as a form of hearing; it is associated with the sense of hearing. Saint Paul would use a formula which became classic: fides ex auditu, “faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17). Knowledge linked to a word is always personal knowledge; it recognizes the voice of the one speaking, opens up to that person in freedom and follows him or her in obedience. Paul could thus speak of the “obedience of faith” (cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26).23

29. Cum cognitio fidei cum foedere fidelis Dei societur, qui amoris necessitudinem cum homine instituit eique Verbum dicit, in Bibliis veluti auditio praebetur, auditus sensui consociatur. Sanctus Paulus formula utitur quae probatissima est facta: « Fides ex auditu » (Rom 10,17). Cognitio quae cum verbo nectitur, semper est personalis cognitio quae vocem recognoscit, ad eam in libertate aperitur eamque in oboedientia sequitur. Quocirca sanctus Paulus locutus est de « oboeditione fidei » (Rom 1,5; 16,26).23

23 [”The obedience of faith (Rom 16:26; compare Rom 1:5, 2 Cor 10:5-6) must be our response to the God who reveals. By faith one freely submits oneself entirely to God making the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals, and willingly assenting to the revelation given by God. For this faith to be accorded, we need the grace of God, anticipating it and assisting it, as well as the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, and opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth. The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that revelation may be more and more deeply understood” (Vat.II, Dog. Const. on Div. Rev. Dei Verbum, 5).]

« Deo revelanti praestanda est “oboeditio fidei” (Rom 16, 26; cfr Rom 1,5; 2 Cor 10,5-6), qua homo se totum libere Deo committit “plenum revelanti Deo intellectus et voluntatis obsequium” praestando et voluntarie Revelationi ab eo datae assentiendo. Quae fides ut praebeatur, opus est praeveniente et adiuvante gratia Dei et internis Spiritus Sancti auxiliis, qui cor moveat et in Deum convertat, mentis oculos aperiat, et det “omnibus suavitatem in consentiendo et credendo veritati”. Quo vero profundior usque evadat Revelationis intelligentia, idem Spiritus Sanctus fidem iugiter per dona sua perficit»

Faith is also a knowledge bound to the passage of time, for words take time to be pronounced, and it is a knowledge assimilated only along a journey of discipleship. The experience of hearing can thus help to bring out more clearly the bond between knowledge and love.

Fides est insuper cognitio quae ad temporis cursum refertur, quo verbum indiget ut proferatur: est cognitio quae tantummodo in sequelae itinere discitur. Auditio omnino iuvat ad nexum illustrandum inter cognitionem et amorem.

At times, where knowledge of the truth is concerned, hearing has been opposed to sight; it has been claimed that an emphasis on sight was characteristic of Greek culture. If light makes possible that contemplation of the whole to which humanity has always aspired, it would also seem to leave no space for freedom, since it comes down from heaven directly to the eye, without calling for a response. It would also seem to call for a kind of static contemplation, far removed from the world of history with its joys and sufferings. From this standpoint, the biblical understanding of knowledge would be antithetical to the Greek understanding, inasmuch as the latter linked knowledge to sight in its attempt to attain a comprehensive understanding of reality.

Ad veritatem cognoscendam quod attinet, auditio visioni interdum opponitur, quae praesertim ad Graecam culturam pertinet. Lumen, si una ex parte omnium rerum contemplationem offert, quam homo semper appetit, altera ex parte libertati spatium relinquere non videtur, quia descendit de caelo et ad visum directe pervenit, non requirens ut visus respondeat. Illa ceterum ad staticam contemplationem invitare videtur, a concreto tempore separatam in quo homo gaudet et dolet. Secundum hanc opinationem, reperienda cognitio bliblica cognitioni Graecae opponitur, quae cum plenam realitatis cognitionem persequatur, visionem cum cognitione coniunxit.

This alleged antithesis does not, however, correspond to the biblical datum. The Old Testament combined both kinds of knowledge, since hearing God’s word is accompanied by the desire to see his face. The ground was thus laid for a dialogue with Hellenistic culture, a dialogue present at the heart of sacred Scripture. Hearing emphasizes personal vocation and obedience, and the fact that truth is revealed in time. Sight provides a vision of the entire journey and allows it to be situated within God’s overall plan; without this vision, we would be left only with unconnected parts of an unknown whole.

Patet tamen hanc adfectatam oppositionem biblicae narrationi non congruere. Vetus Testamentum haec duo genera cognitionis conciliavit, quia auditioni Verbi Dei nectitur desiderium vultum eius contemplandi. Hoc quidem modo dialogus cum cultu Hellenistico suscipi potuit, dialogus qui ad cor ipsum Scripturae pertinet. Auditio personalem testatur vocationem et oboedientiam, et id etiam quod veritas in tempore revelatur; visus plenam offert totius itineris visionem et in magno Dei proposito collocari sinit; haec si deesset visio, tantummodo in promptu haberemus fragmenta segregata ex universis rebus incognitis.





30. The bond between seeing and hearing in faith-knowledge is most clearly evident in John’s Gospel. For the Fourth Gospel, to believe is both to hear and to see. Faith’s hearing emerges as a form of knowing proper to love: it is a personal hearing, one which recognizes the voice of the Good Shepherd (cf. Jn 10:3-5); it is a hearing which calls for discipleship, as was the case with the first disciples: “Hearing him say these things, they followed Jesus” (Jn 1:37). But faith is also tied to sight. Seeing the signs which Jesus worked leads at times to faith, as in the case of the Jews who, following the raising of Lazarus, “having seen what he did, believed in him” (Jn 11:45). At other times, faith itself leads to deeper vision: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God” (Jn 11:40). In the end, belief and sight intersect: “Whoever believes in me believes in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me” (Jn 12:44-45). Joined to hearing, seeing then becomes a form of following Christ, and faith appears as a process of gazing, in which our eyes grow accustomed to peering into the depths. Easter morning thus passes from John who, standing in the early morning darkness before the empty tomb, “saw and believed” (Jn 20:8), to Mary Magdalene who, after seeing Jesus (cf. Jn 20:14) and wanting to cling to him, is asked to contemplate him as he ascends to the Father, and finally to her full confession before the disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:18).

30. Conexio inter visionem et auditionem, veluti instrumenta cognitionis fidei, in Evangelio Ioannis perlucide advertitur. In quarto Evangelio, credere idem est ac auscultare et, eodem tempore, videre. Auditio fidei evenit secundum formam cognitionis propriam amoris: est auditio personalis quae vocem discernit et cognoscit vocem Boni Pastoris (cfr Io 10,3-5); auditio nempe, quae sequelam requirit, prout accidit primis discipulis qui « audierunt eum […] loquentem et secuti sunt Iesum » (Io 1,37). Ceterum, fides etiam cum visione sociatur. Interdum visio signorum Iesu fidem praecedit, ut contingit Iudaeis qui, post Lazari resurrectionem, postquam « viderant, quae fecit, crediderunt in eum » (Io 11,45). Alias, ipsa fides ad visionem quandam altiorem perducit: « Si credideris, videbis gloriam Dei » (Io 11,40). Tandem, credere et videre intexuntur: « Qui credit in me, […] credit in eum, qui misit me; et, qui videt me, videt eum, qui misit me » (Io 12,44-45). Hanc ob unionem cum auditione, effectus videndi fit Christi sequela, atque fides apparet veluti processus visionis, in quo oculi altissime inspicere consuescunt. Hunc in modum, primo mane Paschatis, transitus habetur a Ioanne qui, adhuc in tenebris, ante monumentum vacuum « vidit et credidit » (Io 20,8) ad Mariam Magdalene quae iam « videt Iesum » (Io 20,14) et vult tenere eum, sed invitatur ad contemplandum eum ad Patrem accedentem, usque ad plenam ipsius Magdalene professionem coram discipulis: « Vidi Dominum! » (Io 20, 18).

How does one attain this synthesis between hearing and seeing? It becomes possible through the person of Christ himself, who can be seen and heard. He is the Word made flesh, whose glory we have seen (cf. Jn 1:14). The light of faith is the light of a countenance in which the Father is seen. In the Fourth Gospel, the truth which faith attains is the revelation of the Father in the Son, in his flesh and in his earthly deeds, a truth which can be defined as the “light-filled life” of Jesus.24 [Cf. H. Schlier, Meditationen über den Johanneischen Begriff der Wahrheit, in Besinnung auf das Neue Testament. Exegetische Aufsätze und Vorträge 2, Freiburg, Basel, Wien, 1959, 272.] This means that faith-knowledge does not direct our gaze to a purely inward truth. The truth which faith discloses to us is a truth centred on an encounter with Christ, on the contemplation of his life and on the awareness of his presence. Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of the Apostles’ oculata fides — a faith which sees! — in the presence of the body of the Risen Lord.25 [Cf. S. Th. III, q. 55, a. 2, ad 1.] With their own eyes they saw the risen Jesus and they believed; in a word, they were able to peer into the depths of what they were seeing and to confess their faith in the Son of God, seated at the right hand of the Father.

Quomodo ad hanc pervenimus synthesim inter auditionem et visionem? Fieri potest si iter suscipitur ab ipsa persona Iesu, qui conspicitur et exauditur. Ipse est Verbum caro factum, cuius gloriam vidimus (cfr Io 1,14). Lumen fidei est lumen Vultus in quo Pater conspicitur. Veritas enim quam fides percipit, in quarto Evangelio, est Patris manifestatio in Filio, in eius carne eiusque in terrestribus operibus, veritas quae definiri potest veluti « vita luminosa » Iesu.24 Quod significat fidei cognitionem non invitare nos ad veritatem interiorem inspiciendam. Veritas quam fides nobis aperit est veritas cuius centrum nititur in occursu cum Christo, in eius vitae contemplatione, in eius praesentiae perceptione. Quo sensu sanctus Thomas Aquinas loquitur de oculata fide Apostolorum – de fide quae videt! – ante corpoream visionem Resuscitati.25 Ipsis oculis viderunt Iesum resuscitatum et crediderunt, hoc est cernere potuerunt profunditatem eorum quae videbant ut profiterentur Dei Filium, qui ad dexteram sedet Patris.





31. It was only in this way, by taking flesh, by sharing our humanity, that the knowledge proper to love could come to full fruition. For the light of love is born when our hearts are touched and we open ourselves to the interior presence of the beloved, who enables us to recognize his mystery. Thus we can understand why, together with hearing and seeing, Saint John can speak of faith as touch, as he says in his First Letter: “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” (1 Jn 1:1). By his taking flesh and coming among us, Jesus has touched us, and through the sacraments he continues to touch us even today; transforming our hearts, he unceasingly enables us to acknowledge and acclaim him as the Son of God. In faith, we can touch him and receive the power of his grace. Saint Augustine, commenting on the account of the woman suffering from haemorrhages who touched Jesus and was cured (cf. Lk 8:45-46), says: “To touch him with our hearts: that is what it means to believe”.26 [Sermo 229/L (Guelf. 14), 2 (Miscell. August. 1, 487/488): “Tangere autem corde, hoc est credere”.] The crowd presses in on Jesus, but they do not reach him with the personal touch of faith, which apprehends the mystery that he is the Son who reveals the Father. Only when we are configured to Jesus do we receive the eyes needed to see him.

31. Ita solummodo, per Incarnationem, per nostrae humanitatis condivisionem, cognitio propria amoris ad plenitudinem pervenire poterat. Lumen quidem amoris nascitur cum in corde tangimur, quoniam hoc modo in nobis accipimus interiorem praesentiam amati, qui nos sinit suum agnoscere mysterium. Tunc igitur scimus curnam, simul cum auscultatione et auditione, apud sanctum Ioannem fides sit « tangere », ut ait in Prima Epistula: « Quod audivimus, quod vidimus […] et manus nostrae contrectaverunt de verbo vitae » (1 Io 1,1.3). Per Incarnationem, per adventum ad nos, Iesus nos tetigit, et, per Sacramenta, hodie quoque nos tangit; hoc modo, immutans cor nostrum, nobis permisit et permittit ut eum recognoscamus necnon Filium Dei profiteamur. Nos per fidem eum tangere possumus atque virtutem eius gratiae accipere. Sanctus Augustinus, interpretans narrationem de muliere, profluvio sanguinis affecta, quae Iesum tangit ut sanetur (cfr Lc 8,45-46), asserit: « Tangere autem corde, hoc est credere ».26 Is turba stipatur, sed eadem ad ipsum personali tactu fidei non pervenit, quae recognoscit eius mysterium, eius naturam Filii qui Patrem manifestat. Iesu solummodo dum configuramur, idoneos accepimus oculos ad eum videndum.





 The dialogue between faith and reason

Dialogus inter fidem et rationem







32. Christian faith, inasmuch as it proclaims the truth of God’s total love and opens us to the power of that love, penetrates to the core of our human experience. Each of us comes to the light because of love, and each of us is called to love in order to remain in the light. Desirous of illumining all reality with the love of God made manifest in Jesus, and seeking to love others with that same love, the first Christians found in the Greek world, with its thirst for truth, an ideal partner in dialogue. The encounter of the Gospel message with the philosophical culture of the ancient world proved a decisive step in the evangelization of all peoples, and stimulated a fruitful interaction between faith and reason which has continued down the centuries to our own times. Blessed John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, showed how faith and reason each strengthen the other.27[Cf. Encyc. Let.Fides et Ratio (14 Sept.1998), 73: AAS (1999), 61-62.] Once we discover the full light of Christ’s love, we realize that each of the loves in our own lives had always contained a ray of that light, and we understand its ultimate destination. That fact that our human loves contain that ray of light also helps us to see how all love is meant to share in the complete self-gift of the Son of God for our sake. In this circular movement, the light of faith illumines all our human relationships, which can then be lived in union with the gentle love of Christ.

32. Fides christiana, quatenus veritatem nuntiat totalis amoris Dei et ad potentiam huius amoris fovet aditum, ad magis reconditum centrum pervenit experientiae hominis, qui amoris ope in lucem editur, et ad amandum vocatur ut in luce maneat. Desiderio compulsi omnem realitatem illuminandi, initium sumentes ab amore Dei in Iesu manifestato, eodem amore amare quaerentes, primi christiani Graecum orbem, esurientem veritatem, invenerunt socium idoneum ad dialogum. Eo quod evangelicus nuntius philosophicam doctrinam apud antiquos convenit, id decretorium fuit iter ut ad omnes gentes perveniret Evangelium, idque effecit ut fides et ratio inter se agerent, quod saeculorum decursu usque ad nostram aetatem increbruit. Beatus Ioannes Paulus II in Litteris Encyclicis Fides et ratio monstravit quomodo fides et ratio altera alteram confirment.27 Cum invenimus lucem amoris Iesu plenam, id advertimus quoniam in omni nostro amore praesens fuit aliquid illius luminis et intellegimus qualis fuerit eius meta. Et, eodem tempore, eo quod amor noster lumen secum fert, id nos adiuvat ad videndum amoris iter vergens ad plenitudinem summae deditionis Filii Dei pro nobis. In hoc cyclico motu lumen fidei omnes illuminat humanas relationes, quae in unione cum amore et Christi suavitate peragi possunt.





33. In the life of Saint Augustine we find a significant example of this process whereby reason, with its desire for truth and clarity, was integrated into the horizon of faith and thus gained new understanding. Augustine accepted the Greek philosophy of light, with its insistence on the importance of sight. His encounter with Neoplatonism introduced him to the paradigm of the light which, descending from on high to illumine all reality, is a symbol of God. Augustine thus came to appreciate God’s transcendence and discovered that all things have a certain transparency, that they can reflect God’s goodness. This realization liberated him from his earlier Manichaeism, which had led him to think that good and evil were in constant conflict, confused and intertwined. The realization that God is light provided Augustine with a new direction in life and enabled him to acknowledge his sinfulness and to turn towards the good.

33. Apud sancti Augustini vitam insigne huius itineris exemplum invenimus in quo inquisitio rationis, una cum desiderio veritatis et perspicuitatis, in fines fidei est cooptata, ex qua novum sensum accepit. Una ex parte, ipse in visione innitens Graecam luminis philosophiam accepit. Eius aditus ad philosophiam neoplatonicam copiam dedit illi cognoscendi prospectum luminis quod ex alto venit ad res illuminandas, et ita est symbolum Dei. Sic enim sanctus Augustinus divinam intellexit transcendentiam et detexit omnes res in se ipsis quodam perfrui splendore, id est Dei bonitatem, Bonum, referre posse. Ita a Manichaeorum doctrina sese detraxit, in qua antea vitam duxerat et ob cuius influxum pronus fuerat ad conceptum, iuxta quem malum et bonum, in mutua confusione et mixtura absque finibus circumscriptis, constanter confligebant. Intellegens Deum lumen esse, novum vitae cursum obtinuit, facultatem scilicet discernendi malum, cuius culpabilis erat, atque se ad bonum convertendi.

All the same, the decisive moment in Augustine’s journey of faith, as he tells us in the Confessions, was not in the vision of a God above and beyond this world, but in an experience of hearing. In the garden, he heard a voice telling him: “Take and read”. He then took up the book containing the epistles of Saint Paul and started to read the thirteenth chapter of the Letter to the Romans.28 [Cf. Conf., VIII, 12, 29: PL 32, 762.] In this way, the personal God of the Bible appeared to him: a God who is able to speak to us, to come down to dwell in our midst and to accompany our journey through history, making himself known in the time of hearing and response.

Altera tamen ex parte, ad experientiam sancti Augustini quod attinet, quam ipse in Confessionibus narrat, decretorium eius fidei itineris momentum non fuit tempus cuiusdam visionis Dei, ultra mundum praesentem, sed potius momentum auditionis cum in horto audivit vocem dicentem: « Tolle, lege »; Litterarum sancti Pauli ipse capit volumen, in tertio decimo capite sistens Epistulae ad Romanos.28 Ita quidem personalis revelabatur Deus Bibliorum, qui cum homine loqui, cum eo vivere eiusque iter in historia comitari valeret, praesentem se praebens tempore auditionis et responsionis.

Yet this encounter with the God who speaks did not lead Augustine to reject light and seeing. He integrated the two perspectives of hearing and seeing, constantly guided by the revelation of God’s love in Jesus. Thus Augustine developed a philosophy of light capable of embracing both the reciprocity proper to the word and the freedom born of looking to the light. Just as the word calls for a free response, so the light finds a response in the image which reflects it. Augustine can therefore associate hearing and seeing, and speak of “the word which shines forth within”.29 [De Trin.XV, 11, 20: PL 42, 1071: “verbum quod intus lucet “.] The light becomes, so to speak, the light of a word, because it is the light of a personal countenance, a light which, even as it enlightens us, calls us and seeks to be reflected on our faces and to shine from within us. Yet our longing for the vision of the whole, and not merely of fragments of history, remains and will be fulfilled in the end, when, as Augustine says, we will see and we will love.30 [Cf. De Civ. Dei, XXII, 30, 5: PL 41, 804.] Not because we will be able to possess all the light, which will always be inexhaustible, but because we will enter wholly into that light.

Attamen, occursus hic cum Deo Verbi non effecit ut sanctus Augustinus lumen et visionem recusaret. Utrumque prospectum conciliavit, revelatione amoris Dei in Iesu iugiter permotus. Hac ratione luminis philosophiam excogitavit quae in se ipsa propriam verbi reciprocitatem amplectitur atque spatium aperit libertati prospectus ad lumen. Quemadmodum libera responsio cum verbis congruit, ita lux uti responsum imaginem invenit quae refert eam. Tunc sanctus Augustinus, auditionem consocians cum visione, se referre potest ad « verbum quod intus lucet ».29 Tali modo lux fit, ut ita dicamus, lux cuiusdam verbi, quia lux est Vultus personalis, lux scilicet quae, nos illuminans, vocat nos et in nostro vultu repercuti cupit ut intra nos splendeat. Praeterea desiderium visionis totius mundi, et non solum fragmentorum historiae, perstat et in fine adimplebitur, cum homo, ut ait Sanctus Hipponensis, viderit et amaverit.30 Et hoc, non quod totam possidere valeat lucem, quae numquam deficit, sed quod ipse prorsus integer in lucem ingreditur.





34. The light of love proper to faith can illumine the questions of our own time about truth. Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual, valid only for the life of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth that stifles the individual. Since it is born of love, it can penetrate to the heart, to the personal core of each man and woman. Clearly, then, faith is not intransigent, but grows in respectful coexistence with others. One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all.

34. Lumen amoris, fidei proprium, interrogationes nostri temporis de veritate illustrare potest. Hodierna veritas saepe ad singulorum auctoritatem redigitur, tantummodo ad individuam vitam spectantem. Communis veritas nobis metum incutit, quoniam eam imposito absolutismo aequalem esse arbitramur. Si tamen veritas est veritas amoris, si est veritas quae personali cum Altero et ceteris occursui patet, tunc a singulorum clausura erepta permanet et boni communis partem habere potest. Cum sit amoris veritas, non est veritas quae vi imponitur, neque veritas quae singulos opprimit. Si ex amore oritur, ad cor pervenire potest, ad intimum cuiusque personae spatium. Clare sic perspicitur fidem non esse intolerantem, sed crescere in convictu qui alterum veneratur. Qui credit insolens non est; e contrario, veritas eum humilem reddit, dum pro comperto habemus, potius quam eam possideamus, ipsam nos amplecti nosque possidere. Ne animum obduremus, securitas fidei in iter nos inducit atque facit ut testimonium et dialogus cum omnibus institui possint.

Nor is the light of faith, joined to the truth of love, extraneous to the material world, for love is always lived out in body and spirit; the light of faith is an incarnate light radiating from the luminous life of Jesus. It also illumines the material world, trusts its inherent order and knows that it calls us to an ever widening path of harmony and understanding. The gaze of science thus benefits from faith: faith encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens the critical sense by preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae and helps it to realize that nature is always greater. By stimulating wonder before the profound mystery of creation, faith broadens the horizons of reason to shed greater light on the world which discloses itself to scientific investigation.

Ceterum lumen fidei, quatenus cum veritate amoris coniungitur, minime a mundo materiali alienum est, quia amor in corpore animaque semper agitur; lux fidei est lux incarnata quae a fulgida vita Iesu procedit. Materiam etiam illuminat, suo ordine confidit, novit in ipsa iter concordiae et comprehensioni latius in dies aperiri. Prospectus scientiae hoc modo a fide beneficium accipit: haec enim personas scientiis deditas hortatur ut apertae perstent realitati in eius integra inexhausta ubertate. Fides sensum criticum excitat quatenus impedit quominus inquisitio suis satietur formulis et praestat ut intellegat naturam usque maiorem esse. Fides, ad stuporem invitans prae rerum creatarum arcano, ampliores reddit rationis prospectus ad mundum melius illuminandum qui ad scientiarum studia panditur.







 Faith and the search for God

Fides et Dei inquisitio







35. The light of faith in Jesus also illumines the path of all those who seek God, and makes a specifically Christian contribution to dialogue with the followers of the different religions. The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the witness of those just ones who, before the covenant with Abraham, already sought God in faith. Of Enoch “it was attested that he had pleased God” (Heb 11:5), something impossible apart from faith, for “whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). We can see from this that the path of religious man passes through the acknowledgment of a God who cares for us and is not impossible to find. What other reward can God give to those who seek him, if not to let himself be found? Even earlier, we encounter Abel, whose faith was praised and whose gifts, his offering of the firstlings of his flock (cf. Heb 11:4), were therefore pleasing to God. Religious man strives to see signs of God in the daily experiences of life, in the cycle of the seasons, in the fruitfulness of the earth and in the movement of the cosmos. God is light and he can be found also by those who seek him with a sincere heart.

35. Lumen fidei in Iesum iter etiam illuminat omnium Deum quaerentium et propriam offert operam christianae doctrinae in dialogo cum diversarum religionum asseclis. Epistula ad Hebraeos ad nos de testimonio loquitur iustorum qui, priusquam foedus pangeretur cum Abraham, iam fide Deum quaerebant. De Henoch dicitur: « Testimonium accepit placuisse Deo » (Heb 11,5); quod fieri nequit sine fide; « credere enim oportet accedentem ad Deum quia est et inquirentibus se remunerator fit » (Heb 11,6). Sic enim intellegere possumus iter hominis religiosi transire per confessionem Dei qui de illo sollicitus est et fieri non potest ut non inveniatur. Quamnam aliam mercedem Deus possit praebere quaerentibus eum, praeterquam Ipsemet inveniri patiatur? Adhuc retrovertentes, figuram invenimus Abel, cuius fides etiam laudatur et ob fidem Deo placuerunt eius dona, oblatio primorum fructuum (cfr Heb 11,4). Homo religiosus recognoscere cupit signa Dei in adiunctis cotidianis vitae, in anni temporibus, in fecunditate terrae et in omni motu naturae. Deus luminosus est et inveniri etiam potest ab omnibus qui sincero corde quaerunt eum.

An image of this seeking can be seen in the Magi, who were led to Bethlehem by the star (cf. Mt 2:1-12). For them God’s light appeared as a journey to be undertaken, a star which led them on a path of discovery. The star is a sign of God’s patience with our eyes which need to grow accustomed to his brightness. Religious man is a wayfarer; he must be ready to let himself be led, to come out of himself and to find the God of perpetual surprises. This respect on God’s part for our human eyes shows us that when we draw near to God, our human lights are not dissolved in the immensity of his light, as a star is engulfed by the dawn, but shine all the more brightly the closer they approach the primordial fire, like a mirror which reflects light. Christian faith in Jesus, the one Saviour of the world, proclaims that all God’s light is concentrated in him, in his “luminous life” which discloses the origin and the end of history.31[Cf. Cong. Doct. Faith, Decl. Dom. Iesus (6 Aug. 2000), 15: AAS 92 (2000), 756.] There is no human experience, no journey of man to God, which cannot be taken up, illumined and purified by this light. The more Christians immerse themselves in the circle of Christ’s light, the more capable they become of understanding and accompanying the path of every man and woman towards God.

Specimen huius exquisitionis sunt Magi, qui stella ducti sunt in Bethlehem (cfr Mt 2,1-12). Lux Dei monstrata est illis veluti iter, veluti stella quae ad inventionum viam perducit. Stella de patientia Dei sic nostris loquitur oculis, qui ad eius splendorem consuescant oportet. Homo religiosus est in itinere, itaque promptum se praebeat ut ducatur et ex se exeat ad inveniendum Deum qui semper stuporem affert. Hic Dei respectus erga oculos hominis nos docet, dum homo ad Eum accedit, lucem humanam in immensitate luminosa Dei non dissolvi, perinde ac si stella ab aurora absorbeatur, ita ut eo clarior fiat quo ad pristinum ignem propius accedat, sicut speculum quod splendorem replicat. Christiana confessio Iesu, unius Salvatoris, adfirmat totam lucem Dei in Ipso centrum ponere, in eius « vita luminosa », in qua et origo et consummatio historiae revelantur.31 Nulla habetur humana experientia, nullum itinerarium hominis ad Deum, quin hac luce excipi, illuminari et purificari possit. Quo christianus in apertum circulum lucis Christi magis immergitur, eo magis idoneus est ad intellegendum et comitandum cuiusque hominis iter ad Deum.

Because faith is a way, it also has to do with the lives of those men and women who, though not believers, nonetheless desire to believe and continue to seek. To the extent that they are sincerely open to love and set out with whatever light they can find, they are already, even without knowing it, on the path leading to faith. They strive to act as if God existed, at times because they realize how important he is for finding a sure compass for our life in common or because they experience a desire for light amid darkness, but also because in perceiving life’s grandeur and beauty they intuit that the presence of God would make it all the more beautiful. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons tells how Abraham, before hearing God’s voice, had already sought him “in the ardent desire of his heart” and “went throughout the whole world, asking himself where God was to be found”, until “God had pity on him who, all alone, had sought him in silence”.32 [Dem. Ap. Pred., 24: SC 406, 117.] Any-one who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already drawing near to God, is already sustained by his help, for it is characteristic of the divine light to brighten our eyes whenever we walk towards the fullness of love.

Cum fides veluti via configuretur, respicit etiam vitam hominum qui, quamvis non credentes, credere desiderant et quaerere non desinunt. Perinde ac sincero corde amori aperiuntur et iter suscipiunt sub illa luce quam accipere valent, iam versantur, quamvis inscii, in itinere ad fidem. Illi agere curant ac si Deus esset, quoniam interdum eius praestantiam agnoscunt ad securos cursus inveniendos in vita communi, vel quia desiderium experiuntur lucis in tenebris; sed etiam quia, dum percipiunt quam magna et pulchra vita sit, discernunt praesentiam Dei vitam adhuc maiorem reddere. Id narrat sanctus Irenaeus Lugdunensis: Abraham, antequam vocem Dei exaudiret iam eum quaerebat « secundum promptitudinem sollicitudinis animae suae» et «per omnem circumibat mundum, scrutans ubi sit Deus », usque ad diem quo adfuit « miserans Deus eius qui solus tacito quaerebat eum ».32 Qui iter arripit ad bonum exercendum, iam Deo propiorem se gerit, eius praesidio suffultus, quia vigoris divinae lucis est nostros oculos illuminare, dum ad plenitudinem amoris progredimur.





 Faith and theology

Fides et theologia







36. Since faith is a light, it draws us into itself, inviting us to explore ever more fully the horizon which it illumines, all the better to know the object of our love. Christian theology is born of this desire. Clearly, theology is impossible without faith; it is part of the very process of faith, which seeks an ever deeper understanding of God’s self-disclosure culminating in Christ. It follows that theology is more than simply an effort of human reason to analyze and understand, along the lines of the experimental sciences. God cannot be reduced to an object. He is a subject who makes himself known and perceived in an interpersonal relationship. Right faith orients reason to open itself to the light which comes from God, so that reason, guided by love of the truth, can come to a deeper knowledge of God. The great medieval theologians and teachers rightly held that theology, as a science of faith, is a participation in God’s own knowledge of himself. It is not just our discourse about God, but first and foremost the acceptance and the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the word which God speaks to us, the word which God speaks about himself, for he is an eternal dialogue of communion, and he allows us to enter into this dialogue.33 [Cf. Bonaventure, Breviloq., prol.: Opera Omnia, V, Quaracchi 1891, 201; In I Sent., proem, q. 1, resp.: Opera Omnia, I, Quaracchi 1891, 7; Thomas Aquinas, S. Th I, q.1.] Theology thus demands the humility to be “touched” by God, admitting its own limitations before the mystery, while striving to investigate, with the discipline proper to reason, the inexhaustible riches of this mystery.

36. Cum fides sit lux, nos hortatur ut in eam ingrediamur, ad magis magisque prospectum explorandum qui illuminat, quo melius cognoscamus quid amemus. Sub hoc desiderio christiana nascitur theologia. Tunc patet theologiam sine fide dari non posse eamque ad ipsum motum fidei pertinere, quae altiorem intellectum Dei sese revelantis requirit, ubi Christi Mysterii habetur fastigium. Prima consecutio in eo est quod in theologia non habetur tantummodo conatus rationis ad perscrutandum et cognoscendum, sicut in experimentalibus scientiis evenit. Deus ad obiectum redigi non potest. Ille subiectus est qui se praebet cognoscendum ac manifestandum, videlicet e persona ad personam. Recta fides rationem dirigit,ut luci pateat, quae a Deo procedit, ut ipsa veritatis amore ducta, altiore modo Deum cognoscere possit. Magni doctores et theologi Mediae aetatis merito asseverarunt theologiam, sicut fidei scientiam, participationem esse illius cognitionis, quam Deus de se ipse habet. Theologia igitur non est tantummodo verbum de Deo, sed potissimum acceptio et inquisitio altioris intellectus illius verbi quo Deus nos alloquitur, verbum quod Deus de se ipso profert, quia est dialogus aeternus communionis, et in hunc dialogum hominem admittit.33 Participat tunc humilitas theologiam, quae sinit « tangi » a Deo, ut coram mysterio suos fines agnoscat atque inquirat propria rationis disciplina investigabiles huius Mysterii divitias.

Theology also shares in the ecclesial form of faith; its light is the light of the believing subject which is the Church. This implies, on the one hand, that theology must be at the service of the faith of Christians, that it must work humbly to protect and deepen the faith of everyone, especially ordinary believers. On the other hand, because it draws its life from faith, theology cannot consider the magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him as something extrinsic, a limitation of its freedom, but rather as one of its internal, constitutive dimensions, for the magisterium ensures our contact with the primordial source and thus provides the certainty of attaining to the word of Christ in all its integrity.

Theologia porro participat formam ecclesialem fidei; lux eius est lux subiecti credentis quod est Ecclesia. Quod postulat ut, una ex parte, theologia servitium praebeat fidei christianorum, humiliter curet custodiendam et altiorem reddendam fidem omnium, praesertim simpliciorum. Theologia insuper, cum ex fide vivat, non consideret Magisterium Summi Pontificis et Episcoporum in communione cum Illo uti aliquid externum, uti coartationem suae libertatis, sed, e contrario, uti unum ex suis elementis internis, constitutivis, quatenus Magisterium confirmat accessum ad fontem primigenium, itaque certitudinem praebet de Verbo Christi integre hauriendi.

Ch 3 I Delivered to You What I Also Received






WHAT I  ALSO RECEIVED  (cf. 1 Cor 15:3)

(cfr 1 Cor 15,3)











 The Church, mother of our faith

Ecclesia nostrae fidei mater







37. Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard his voice and received his light, cannot keep this gift to themselves. Since faith is hearing and seeing, it is also handed on as word and light. Addressing the Corinthians, Saint Paul used these two very images. On the one hand he says: “But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture — ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ — we also believe, and so we speak” (2 Cor 4:13). The word, once accepted, becomes a response, a confession of faith, which spreads to others and invites them to believe. Paul also uses the image of light: “All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image” (2 Cor 3:18). It is a light reflected from one face to another, even as Moses himself bore a reflection of God’s glory after having spoken with him: “God… has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). The light of Christ shines, as in a mirror, upon the face of Christians; as it spreads, it comes down to us, so that we too can share in that vision and reflect that light to others, in the same way that, in the Easter liturgy, the light of the paschal candle lights countless other candles. Faith is passed on, we might say, by contact, from one person to another, just as one candle is lighted from another. Christians, in their poverty, plant a seed so rich that it becomes a great tree, capable of filling the world with its fruit.

37. Qui se ad amorem Dei aperuit, vocem eius auscultavit eiusque lucem accepit, hoc donum sibi tenere nequit. Quia fides auditio est et visio, etiam veluti verbum et lux transmittitur. Corinthios alloquens, apostolus Paulus has ipsas adhibuit imagines. Una ex parte dicit: « Habentes autem eundem spiritum fidei, sicut scriptum est: “Credidi, propter quod locutus sum”, et nos credimus, propter quod et loquimur » (2 Cor 4,13). Verbum acceptum responsio ac confessio efficitur, et ideo pro aliis resonat, quos ad credendum hortatur. Sanctus Paulus, altera ex parte, etiam ad lucem se refert: « Revelata facie gloriam Domini speculantes, in eandem imaginem transformamur a claritate in claritatem » (2 Cor 3,18). Agitur de luce quae e vultu in vultum repercutitur, sicut Moyses in se ipso speculum ferebat gloriae Dei postquam cum Illo locutus est: « Ipse illuxit in cordibus nostris ad illuminationem scientiae claritatis Dei in facie Iesu Christi » (2 Cor 4,6). Lux Iesu splendet, veluti in speculo, in vultu christianorum et ita diffunditur, ita ad nos pervenit, ut etiam nos hanc visionem participare possimus et aliis transmittere eius lucem, sicut in Paschatis liturgia lux cerei alias innumeras accendit candelas. Fides transmittitur, ut ita dicamus, sub forma contactus, e persona in personam, sicut flamma quae alia flamma accenditur. Christiani, sua in paupertate, semen tam fecundum inserunt ut magna fit arbor, quae mundum fructibus adimplere potest.





38. The transmission of the faith not only brings light to men and women in every place; it travels through time, passing from one generation to another. Because faith is born of an encounter which takes place in history and lights up our journey through time, it must be passed on in every age. It is through an unbroken chain of witnesses that we come to see the face of Jesus. But how is this possible? How can we be certain, after all these centuries, that we have encountered the “real Jesus”? Were we merely isolated individuals, were our starting point simply our own individual ego seeking in itself the basis of absolutely sure knowledge, a certainty of this sort would be impossible. I cannot possibly verify for myself something which happened so long ago. But this is not the only way we attain knowledge. Persons always live in relationship. We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others. Even our own knowledge and self-awareness are relational; they are linked to others who have gone before us: in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name. Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others. Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory. The same thing holds true for faith, which brings human understanding to its fullness. Faith’s past, that act of Jesus’ love which brought new life to the world, comes down to us through the memory of others — witnesses — and is kept alive in that one remembering subject which is the Church. The Church is a Mother who teaches us to speak the language of faith. Saint John brings this out in his Gospel by closely uniting faith and memory and associating both with the working of the Holy Spirit, who, as Jesus says, “will remind you of all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). The love which is the Holy Spirit and which dwells in the Church unites every age and makes us contemporaries of Jesus, thus guiding us along our pilgrimage of faith.

38. Fidei transmissio, quae omnibus hominibus ubique terrarum splendet, per axem etiam transit temporis, e generatione in generationem. Cum fides ex occursu nascatur qui in historia evenit et iter nostrum in tempore illuminet, per saecula est transmittenda. Per constantem testificationum catenam vultus Iesu ad nos pervenit. Quomodo hoc fieri potest? Quomodo certitudinem habemus hauriendi a « vero Iesu », per saecula? Si homo individuus segregatus esset, si proficisci volumus solummodo ab individuo « ego » qui in se ipso certitudinem suae cognitionis vult reperire, haec certitudo haberi non posset. Non possum per meipsum videre ea quae procul a me prius evenerunt. Hic tamen non est unicus modus quo homo cognoscit. Persona semper in relatione vivit. Ab aliis provenit, ad alios pertinet, eius vita maior fit per occursum cum aliis. Et propria etiam cognitio, ipsa sui ipsius conscientia, est naturae relationalis, et cum aliis nectitur qui nos praecesserunt: primo, parentes nostri, qui nobis vitam dederunt et nomen. Loquela ipsa, voces quibus nostram interpretamur vitam nostramque realitatem, ad nos per alios pervenit, in viva aliorum servata memoria. De nobis ipsis cognitio fieri potest solummodo cum memoriam maiorem participamus. Ita etiam in fide evenit quae ad plenitudinem ducit humanum modum intellegendi. Praeteritum fidei tempus, ille actus amoris Iesu qui in mundo novam vitam generavit, ad nos pervenit per aliorum, testium, memoriam, vivens permanens in unico subiecto memoriae quod est Ecclesia. Ecclesia Mater est quae sermone fidei loqui nos edocet. Sanctus Ioannes in Evangelio hunc fidei aspectum in lumen protulit, fidem et memoriam simul coniungens, utramque cum actione Spiritus Sancti associans qui, ut ait Iesus, « suggeret vobis omnia » (Io 14,26). Amor qui Spiritus est, qui in Ecclesia commoratur, omnia tempora inter se coniuncta servat atque Iesu contemporales nos reddit, et ita ipse dux efficitur in nostro fidei itinere.





39. It is impossible to believe on our own. Faith is not simply an individual decision which takes place in the depths of the believer’s heart, nor a completely private relationship between the “I” of the believer and the divine “Thou”, between an autonomous subject and God. By its very nature, faith is open to the “We” of the Church; it always takes place within her communion. We are reminded of this by the dialogical format of the creed used in the baptismal liturgy. Our belief is expressed in response to an invitation, to a word which must be heard and which is not my own; it exists as part of a dialogue and cannot be merely a profession originating in an individual. We can respond in the singular — “I believe” — only because we are part of a greater fellowship, only because we also say “We believe”. This openness to the ecclesial “We” reflects the openness of God’s own love, which is not only a relationship between the Father and the Son, between an “I” and a “Thou”, but is also, in the Spirit, a “We”, a communion of persons. Here we see why those who believe are never alone, and why faith tends to spread, as it invites others to share in its joy. Those who receive faith discover that their horizons expand as new and enriching relationships come to life. Tertullian puts this well when he describes the catechumens who, “after the cleansing which gives new birth” are welcomed into the house of their mother and, as part of a new family, pray the Our Father together with their brothers and sisters.34 [Cf. De Baptismo, 20, 5: CCL 1, 295.]

39. Fieri non potest ut soli credamus. Fides non est tantummodo optio fundamentalis quae in intimo animo evenit credentis; non agitur de segregata relatione inter « ego » fidelem et « Tu » divinum, inter subiectum autonomum et Deum. Ipsa, suapte natura, ad «nos» aperitur, semper datur intra communionem Ecclesiae. Forma dialogi symboli « Credo », quae in liturgia Baptismatis adhibetur, hoc ad nostram memoriam revocat. Credere veluti responsio exprimitur ad invitationem, ad verbum quod est auscultandum et a me non provenit, hanc ob rem in internum ipsius dialogi inseritur; non potest esse mera confessio quae e singulis proveniat. Fieri potest ut in prima persona respondeatur « credo », tantummodo quia in ingentem communionem cooptatur, tantummodo quia dicitur « credimus ». Et haec patefactio ad « nos » ecclesiale accidit secundum ipsum patentem Dei amorem, qui non est tantum relatio inter Patrem et Filium, inter « ego » et « tu », sed in Spiritu est etiam illud « nos », communio videlicet personarum. Ecce curnam qui credit numquam sit solus, et quo pacto fides tendat ad sese diffundendam, ad gaudium apud alios excitandum. Qui fidem accipit, detegit spatia sui « ego » expandi, atque in ipso novas oriri relationes quae vitam divitiis cumulant. Tertullianus rem huiusmodi efficaciter significavit de catechumeno loquens, qui post lavacrum novae nativitatis recipitur in domum Matris ut manus extendat ac simul cum fratribus recitet « Pater noster », tamquam in novam familiam immissus.34





 The sacraments and the transmission of faith

Sacramenta et fidei transmissio







40. The Church, like every family, passes on to her children the whole store of her memories. But how does this come about in a way that nothing is lost, but rather everything in the patrimony of faith comes to be more deeply understood? It is through the apostolic Tradition preserved in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit that we enjoy a living contact with the foundational memory. What was handed down by the apostles — as the Second Vatican Council states — “comprises everything that serves to make the people of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith. In this way the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes”.35 [Dog. Const. on Div. Rev. Dei Verbum, 8.]

40. Ecclesia, uti quaelibet familia, filiis suis transmittit rerum gestarum argumentum. Quomodo agendum, ne quid amittatur, sed e contrario, ut omnia altiora in fidei hereditate reddantur? Per Apostolicam Traditionem in Ecclesia, Spiritu Sancto suffragante, servatam nos vivo modo fundantem memoriam attingimus. « Quod vero ab Apostolis traditum est – quemadmodum asserit Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II – ea omnia complectitur quae ad Populi Dei vitam sancte ducendam fidemque augendam conferunt, sicque Ecclesiae, in sua doctrina, vita et cultu, perpetuat cunctisque generationibus transmittit omne quod ipsa est, omne quod credit ».35

Faith, in fact, needs a setting in which it can be witnessed to and communicated, a means which is suitable and proportionate to what is communicated. For transmitting a purely doctrinal content, an idea might suffice, or perhaps a book, or the repetition of a spoken message. But what is communicated in the Church, what is handed down in her living Tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light which touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion. There is a special means for passing down this fullness, a means capable of engaging the entire person, body and spirit, interior life and relationships with others. It is the sacraments, celebrated in the Church’s liturgy. The sacraments communicate an incarnate memory, linked to the times and places of our lives, linked to all our senses; in them the whole person is engaged as a member of a living subject and part of a network of communitarian relationships. While the sacraments are indeed sacraments of faith,36 [Cf. Vat.II, Const. on the Sacr. Lit. Sacr. Concil., 59.] it can also be said that faith itself possesses a sacramental structure. The awakening of faith is linked to the dawning of a new sacramental sense in our lives as human beings and as Christians, in which visible and material realities are seen to point beyond themselves to the mystery of the eternal.

Fides enim loco indiget ubi declarari et communicari valeat et is congruat et accommodetur ad id quod communicatur. Ad transmittendum argumentum mere doctrinale, vel ideam, forsitan unum sufficit volumen, vel repetitio nuntii oralis. Attamen quod in Ecclesia communicatur, quod per eius viventem Traditionem transmittitur, nova lux est quae ex occursu cum Deo vivo exoritur, lux quae personam in penetralibus tangit, in corde, eius mentem, voluntatem et affectus implicans, eam aperiens ad vividas relationes in communione cum Deo aliisque. Ut eiusmodi plenitudo transmittatur, peculiare exstat instrumentum quod totam personam, corpus et spiritum, animi conscientiam et relationes amplectatur. Hoc instrumentum sunt Sacramenta, quae in liturgia Ecclesiae celebrantur. In iis communicatur memoria incarnata, cum locis et temporibus vitae coniuncta, quocumque sensu consociata; in aliis persona implicatur, quatenus membrum subiecti viventis, in complicatis relationibus communitatum. Hanc ob rem, cum verum sit Sacramenta esse Sacramenta fidei,36 dicendum est quoque fidem structuram sacramentalem induere. Renovatio fidei per renovationem transit novi sensus sacramentalis vitae hominis et humanae exsistentiae, demonstrans quomodo visibilia et materialia ad mysterium aeterni sese aperiant.





41. The transmission of faith occurs first and foremost in baptism. Some might think that baptism is merely a way of symbolizing the confession of faith, a pedagogical tool for those who require images and signs, while in itself ultimately unnecessary. An observation of Saint Paul about baptism reminds us that this is not the case. Paul states that “we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). In baptism we become a new creation and God’s adopted children. The Apostle goes on to say that Christians have been entrusted to a “standard of teaching” (týpos didachés), which they now obey from the heart (cf. Rom 6:17). In baptism we receive both a teaching to be professed and a specific way of life which demands the engagement of the whole person and sets us on the path to goodness. Those who are baptized are set in a new context, entrusted to a new environment, a new and shared way of acting, in the Church. Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals; it is not an act which someone can perform on his own, but rather something which must be received by entering into the ecclesial communion which transmits God’s gift. No one baptizes himself, just as no one comes into the world by himself. Baptism is something we receive.

41. Transmissio fidei primo loco per Baptismum contingit. Baptismus forsitan tantum videtur esse modus quidam ad significandam fidei confessionem, actus paedagogicus pro iis qui imaginibus et gestis egent, quae tamen denique omitti possunt. Assertio quaedam sancti Pauli de Baptismo nos commonet res ita non se habere. Ille enim tenet: « Consepulti […] sumus cum illo per Baptismum in mortem, ut quemadmodum suscitatus est Christus a mortuis per gloriam Patris, ita et nos in novitate vitae ambulemus » (Rom 6,4). Per Baptismum in novam constituimur creaturam et filios adoptivos Dei. Apostolus adfirmat deinde christianum concreditum esse cuidam « formae doctrinae » (týpos didachés), cui ex corde obsequitur (cfr Rom 6,17). In Baptismo homo accipit etiam doctrinam profitendam et formam specificam vitae qua integra eius persona implicatur et ad bonum revocatur. In novum transfertur ambitum, novo concreditur ambitui, novo communi modo agendi, in Ecclesia. Baptismus nos admonet fidem non esse individui dissociati opus, neque actum esse quem homo tantum propriis viribus adimplere potest, sed accipiendam esse, per ingressum in communionem ecclesialem quae donum Dei transmittit: nemo se ipsum baptizat, sicut nemo ad exsistentiam ex se advenit. Baptizati sumus





42. What are the elements of baptism which introduce us into this new “standard of teaching”? First, the name of the Trinity — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit — is invoked upon the catechumen. Thus, from the outset, a synthesis of the journey of faith is provided. The God who called Abraham and wished to be called his God, the God who revealed his name to Moses, the God who, in giving us his Son, revealed fully the mystery of his Name, now bestows upon the baptized a new filial identity. This is clearly seen in the act of baptism itself: immersion in water. Water is at once a symbol of death, inviting us to pass through self-conversion to a new and greater identity, and a symbol of life, of a womb in which we are reborn by following Christ in his new life. In this way, through immersion in water, baptism speaks to us of the incarnational structure of faith. Christ’s work penetrates the depths of our being and transforms us radically, making us adopted children of God and sharers in the divine nature. It thus modifies all our relationships, our place in this world and in the universe, and opens them to God’s own life of communion. This change which takes place in baptism helps us to appreciate the singular importance of the catechumenate — whereby growing numbers of adults, even in societies with ancient Christian roots, now approach the sacrament of baptism — for the new evangelization. It is the road of preparation for baptism, for the transformation of our whole life in Christ.

42. Quaenam sunt elementa Baptismi quae nos in hanc novam « formam doctrinae » inducunt? Primo, super catechumenum nomen Trinitatis invocatur: Patris, Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Ab initio igitur summarium itineris fidei praebetur. Deus qui Abraham vocavit et eius Deum se appellari voluit; Deus qui nomen suum Moysi revelavit; Deus qui, nobis suum Filium tradens, sui Nominis mysterium plane nobis revelavit, baptizato novam filialem identitatem tradit. Tali modo apparet sensus actionis quae in Baptismo impletur, nempe immersio in aquam: aqua eodem tempore symbolum est mortis, quae nos invitat ut transeamus per conversionem nostri « ego », ad aperturam erga nostrum maius « ego »; sed est etiam symbolum vitae, gremii in quo renascimur sequentes Christum in sua nova exsistentia. Ita, per immersionem in aquam, Baptismus nobis de incarnata fidei structura loquitur. Actio Christi in propria personali realitate nos tangit, nos radicitus transformans, nos filios adoptivos reddens, divinae naturae participes; sic enim omnes nostras relationes mutat, nostram specificam condicionem in mundo atque in universo, eas aperiens ad ipsam eius vitam communionis. Hic dynamicus motus transformationis, Baptismi proprius, movet nos ad pondus catechumenatus intellegendum qui hodie, etiam apud antiquitate pollentes communitates christianas ubi crescens numerus adultorum accedit ad Baptismi sacramentum, singulare induit momentum pro nova evangelizatione. Iter est praeparationis ad Baptismum, ad totam exsistentiam in Christo transformandam.

To appreciate this link between baptism and faith, we can recall a text of the prophet Isaiah, which was associated with baptism in early Christian literature: “Their refuge will be the fortresses of rocks… their water assured” (Is 33:16).37[Cf. Let. of. Barn, 11, 5: SC 172, 162.] The baptized, rescued from the waters of death, were now set on a “fortress of rock” because they had found a firm and reliable foundation. The waters of death were thus transformed into waters of life. The Greek text, in speaking of that water which is “assured”, uses the word pistós, “faithful”. The waters of baptism are indeed faithful and trustworthy, for they flow with the power of Christ’s love, the source of our assurance in the journey of life.

Ad congruentiam inter Baptismum et fidem intellegendam, nobis sententia Isaiae prophetae operam praestare potest, quae in antiquis litteris christianis cum Baptismo est consociata: « Munimenta saxorum refugium eius […] aquae eius fideles sunt » (Is 33,16).37 Baptizatus, aqua mortis redemptus, se in pedes erigere potuit in « forti munimento saxorum », quia soliditatem invenit cui committi valuit. Sic enim aqua mortis in aquam vitae mutatur. Textus Graecus descripsit eam ut aquam pistèn, id est aquam « fidelem ». Aqua Baptismatis est fidelis, quoniam ipsi confidere possumus, eo quod eius fluxus in amoris Iesu vim immittitur, fontem securitatis in vitae nostrae itinere.





43. The structure of baptism, its form as a rebirth in which we receive a new name and a new life, helps us to appreciate the meaning and importance of infant baptism. Children are not capable of accepting the faith by a free act, nor are they yet able to profess that faith on their own; therefore the faith is professed by their parents and godparents in their name. Since faith is a reality lived within the community of the Church, part of a common “We”, children can be supported by others, their parents and godparents, and welcomed into their faith, which is the faith of the Church; this is symbolized by the candle which the child’s father lights from the paschal candle. The structure of baptism, then, demonstrates the critical importance of cooperation between Church and family in passing on the faith. Parents are called, as Saint Augustine once said, not only to bring children into the world but also to bring them to God, so that through baptism they can be reborn as children of God and receive the gift of faith.38 [Cf. De Nup. et Concup. I, 4, 5: PL 44, 413: “Habent quippe intentionem generandi regenerandos, ut qui ex eis saeculi filii nascuntur in Dei filios renascantur”.] Thus, along with life, children are given a fundamental orientation and assured of a good future; this orientation will be further strengthened in the sacrament of Confirmation with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

43. Baptismatis structura, eius configuratio tamquam regeneratio, in qua novum nomen novamque vitam sumimus, adiuvat nos ad sensum pondusque Baptismatis parvulorum intellegendum. Parvulus compos non est de actu libero quo fides est accipienda; ipse solus nondum eam profiteri potest, et hanc ob causam parentes et patrini eius nomine eam profitentur. Fides intra communitatem Ecclesiae vivitur, in « nos » uti communitatem immittitur. Itaque parvulus ab aliis sustineri potest, a suis parentibus et patrinis, et admitti potest in eorum fidem, quae fides est Ecclesiae, significata per lucem quam pater sumit a cereo in liturgia baptismali. Haec Baptismatis structura pondus ostendit synergiae inter Ecclesiam et familiam ad fidem tradendam. Parentes, ut ait sanctus Augustinus, vocantur non solum ad filios vitae generandos, sed ad afferendos Deo, ut per Baptisma tamquam filii Dei regenerentur donumque fidei accipiant.38 Ita simul cum vita illis traditur fundamentalis directio exsistentiae et securitas boni futuri, directio quae postea in Confirmationis Sacramento Spiritus Sancti signaculo corroborabitur.





44. The sacramental character of faith finds its highest expression in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a precious nourishment for faith: an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of his love, the life-giving gift of himself. In the Eucharist we find the intersection of faith’s two dimensions. On the one hand, there is the dimension of history: the Eucharist is an act of remembrance, a making present of the mystery in which the past, as an event of death and resurrection, demonstrates its ability to open up a future, to foreshadow ultimate fulfilment. The liturgy reminds us of this by its repetition of the word hodie, the “today” of the mysteries of salvation. On the other hand, we also find the dimension which leads from the visible world to the invisible. In the Eucharist we learn to see the heights and depths of reality. The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ, who becomes present in his passover to the Father: this movement draws us, body and soul, into the movement of all creation towards its fulfilment in God.

44. Sacramentalis natura fidei in Eucharistia suum culmen attingit. Ipsa pretiosum est fidei nutrimentum, occursus cum Christo praesenti reali modo per supremum amoris actum, donum sui ipsius quod vitam generat. In Eucharistia bivium invenimus duorum axium in quibus fides suum iter percurrit. Una ex parte agitur de axe historiae: Eucharistia est enim actus memoriae, hodierna confectio mysterii, in quo praeteritum tempus, sicut eventus mortis et resurrectionis, suam ostendit facultatem futurum aperiendi, extremam plenitudinem anticipandi. Liturgia nos de hoc admonet per suum « hodie » mysteriorum salutis. Ceterum hic invenitur etiam axis qui de mundo visibili in invisibilem ducit. In Eucharistia celsitudinem rerum conspicere discimus. Panis et vinum in corpus et sanguinem Christi convertuntur, qui praesens efficitur suo in paschali itinere ad Patrem: hic motus introducit nos, corpus et animam, in motum universi creati versus Dei plenitudinem.





45. In the celebration of the sacraments, the Church hands down her memory especially through the profession of faith. The creed does not only involve giving one’s assent to a body of abstract truths; rather, when it is recited the whole of life is drawn into a journey towards full communion with the living God. We can say that in the creed believers are invited to enter into the mystery which they profess and to be transformed by it. To understand what this means, let us look first at the contents of the creed. It has a trinitarian structure: the Father and the Son are united in the Spirit of love. The believer thus states that the core of all being, the inmost secret of all reality, is the divine communion. The creed also contains a christological confession: it takes us through all the mysteries of Christ’s life up to his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven before his final return in glory. It tells us that this God of communion, reciprocal love between the Father and the Son in the Spirit, is capable of embracing all of human history and drawing it into the dynamic unity of the Godhead, which has its source and fulfillment in the Father. The believer who professes his or her faith is taken up, as it were, into the truth being professed. He or she cannot truthfully recite the words of the creed without being changed, without becoming part of that history of love which embraces us and expands our being, making it part of a great fellowship, the ultimate subject which recites the creed, namely, the Church. All the truths in which we believe point to the mystery of the new life of faith as a journey of communion with the living God.

45. In Sacramentorum celebratione Ecclesia suam tradit memoriam, praecipue per fidei professionem. In ea non agitur tantum de assensu praestando abstractarum veritatum collectioni. E contra, in fidei confessione omnis vita iter ingreditur ad plenam communionem cum Deo Vivente. Asserere possumus in Credo hominem credentem invitari ut in mysterium ingrediatur quod profitetur utque eo transformari sinat quod profitetur. Ut sensum intellegamus huius affirmationis, cogitemus ante omnia de his quae in Credo continentur. Datur in eo structura trinitaria: Pater et Filius coniunguntur in Spiritu amoris. Homo credens affirmat itaque centrum exsistentiae, altissimum omnium rerum secretum divinam esse communionem. Credo insuper continet quoque confessionem christologicam: mysteria vitae Iesu percurruntur, usque ad eius Mortem, Resurrectionem et Ascensionem in caelum, donec tandem veniat in gloria. Dicitur ergo hic Deus communio, amoris permutatio inter Patrem et Filium in Spiritu, historiam hominis amplecti posse eumque suum in dynamismum communionis inducere, qui a Patre suam trahit originem suamque ultimam in eo habet metam. Qui fidem profitetur, veritate implicatur quam profitetur. Ille quidem verba symboli Credo in veritate proferre nequit, quin hac de causa non transformetur, quin immittatur in historiam amoris qui eum amplectitur, qui eius extendit exsistentiam eumque participem efficit ingentis communionis, ultimi subiecti Credo pronuntiantis, videlicet Ecclesiae. Omnes veritates quae creduntur mysterium novae vitae fidei declarant tamquam iter communionis cum Deo Vivente.





 Faith, prayer and the Decalogue

Fides, oratio et Decalogus







46. Two other elements are essential in the faithful transmission of the Church’s memory. First, the Lord’s Prayer, the “Our Father”. Here Christians learn to share in Christ’s own spiritual experience and to see all things through his eyes. From him who is light from light, the only-begotten Son of the Father, we come to know God and can thus kindle in others the desire to draw near to him.

46. Alia duo elementa essentialia exstant in fideli transmissione memoriae Ecclesiae. In primis oratio Dominica, Pater noster. In ipsa christianus eandem spiritalem Christi experientiam communicare discit et Christi oculis videre incipit. Ab Ipso sumpto initio, qui est Lumen de Lumine, ex Filio Unigenito Patris, nos quoque Deum cognoscimus et accendere possumus in aliis desiderium ad Eum accedendi.

Similarly important is the link between faith and the Decalogue. Faith, as we have said, takes the form of a journey, a path to be followed, which begins with an encounter with the living God. It is in the light of faith, of complete entrustment to the God who saves, that the Ten Commandments take on their deepest truth, as seen in the words which introduce them: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Ex 20:2). The Decalogue is not a set of negative commands, but concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God, to be embraced by his mercy and then to bring that mercy to others. Faith thus professes the love of God, origin and upholder of all things, and lets itself be guided by this love in order to journey towards the fullness of communion with God. The Decalogue appears as the path of gratitude, the response of love, made possible because in faith we are receptive to the experience of God’s transforming love for us. And this path receives new light from Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5-7).

Praeterea magni quoque est momenti conexio inter fidem et Decalogum. Fides, ut diximus, percipitur tamquam iter, via nempe percurrenda aperta ad occursum cum Deo vivente. Quapropter sub lumine fidei, e fiducia totali in Deum Salvatorem Decalogus suam obtinet altissimam veritatem, quae continetur in exordio decem praeceptorum: « Ego sum Dominus Deus tuus, qui eduxi te de terra Aegypti » (Ex 20,2). Decalogus praeceptorum negantium non est coacervus, sed certa indicia ad « ego » deserendum quod in se ipsum inclinatur, in se ipsum conclusum, ut cum Deo dialogus instituatur, eius misericordia nos complectatur, ad ipsius misericordiam deferendam. Fides ita confitetur Dei amorem, originem et omnium rerum fulcimentum, quae hoc amore permoveri sinit ut progrediatur ad plenitudinem communionis cum Deo. Decalogus respicitur tamquam iter gratitudinis, responsionis amoris, quod fieri potest quoniam in fide apertos nos praebemus experientiae amoris Dei transformantis erga nos. Et hoc iter novum recipit lumen ex iis quae Iesus docet in Sermone Montano (cfr Mt 5-7).

These, then, are the four elements which comprise the storehouse of memory which the Church hands down: the profession of faith, the celebration of the sacraments, the path of the ten commandments, and prayer. The Church’s catechesis has traditionally been structured around these four elements; this includes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a fundamental aid for that unitary act with which the Church communicates the entire content of her faith: “all that she herself is, and all that she believes”.39 [Vat.II, Dog. Const. on Div. Rev. Dei Verbum, 8.]

Tetigimus itaque quattuor elementa quae comprehendunt thesaurum memoriae ab Ecclesia traditae: fidei Confessionem, Sacramentorum celebrationem, Decalogi iter, orationem. Circum quidem illa ex traditione composita est catechesis Ecclesiae, addito Catechismo Catholicae Ecclesiae, quod validum est instrumentum huius communitarii actus per quem Ecclesia totam fidei doctrinam communicat, « omne quod ipsa est, omne quod credit ».39





 The unity and integrity of faith

Unitas et integritas fidei







47. The unity of the Church in time and space is linked to the unity of the faith: “there is one body and one Spirit… one faith” (Eph 4:4-5). These days we can imagine a group of people being united in a common cause, in mutual affection, in sharing the same destiny and a single purpose. But we find it hard to conceive of a unity in one truth. We tend to think that a unity of this sort is incompatible with freedom of thought and personal autonomy. Yet the experience of love shows us that a common vision is possible, for through love we learn how to see reality through the eyes of others, not as something which impoverishes but instead enriches our vision. Genuine love, after the fashion of God’s love, ultimately requires truth, and the shared contemplation of the truth which is Jesus Christ enables love to become deep and enduring. This is also the great joy of faith: a unity of vision in one body and one spirit. Saint Leo the Great could say: “If faith is not one, then it is not faith”.40 [In Nativ. Dom. Serm., 4, 6: SC 22, 110.]

47. Ecclesiae unitas, sive in tempore sive in spatio, cum fidei unitate coniungitur: « Unum corpus et unus Spiritus, [...] una fides » (Eph 4,4-5). Hodie videri potest hominum unitas factibilis communi studio, mutua caritate, eiusdem sortis participatione, communi proposito. Sed admodum difficile fit nobis concipere unitatem eadem in veritate. Nobis videtur huiusmodi unitas opponi mentis libertati ac subiecti autonomiae. Experientia autem amoris nobis significat in ipso amore dari posse communem visionem, in eo nos discere realitatem alterius oculis contueri, illudque minime nos pauperiores reddere, sed nostrum ditare intuitum. Verus amor, perinde ac amor divinus, veritatem exigit atque in communi veritatis intuitu, quae est Iesus Christus, firmus et altus efficitur. Haec est quoque fidei laetitia, unitas visionis in uno corpore et uno Spiritu. Hoc quidem sensu sanctus Leo Magnus asserere potuit: « Nisi una est, fides non est ».40

What is the secret of this unity? Faith is “one”, in the first place, because of the oneness of the God who is known and confessed. All the articles of faith speak of God; they are ways to know him and his works. Consequently, their unity is far superior to any possible construct of human reason. They possess a unity which enriches us because it is given to us and makes us one.

Quodnam est huius unitatis secretum? Fides una est in primis ob unitatem Dei, quem novimus et confitemur. Omnes fidei articuli respiciunt Eum, viae sunt ut cognoscatur eius esse et agere, quocirca unitatem habent superiorem qualibet alia, quam mente nostra effingere possumus, unitatem habent quae divitiis nos auget, quoniam nobiscum se communicat nosque unum efficit.

Faith is also one because it is directed to the one Lord, to the life of Jesus, to the concrete history which he shares with us. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons made this clear in his struggle against Gnosticism. The Gnostics held that there are two kinds of faith: a crude, imperfect faith suited to the masses, which remained at the level of Jesus’ flesh and the contemplation of his mysteries; and a deeper, perfect faith reserved to a small circle of initiates who were intellectually capable of rising above the flesh of Jesus towards the mysteries of the unknown divinity. In opposition to this claim, which even today exerts a certain attraction and has its followers, Saint Irenaeus insisted that there is but one faith, for it is grounded in the concrete event of the incarnation and can never transcend the flesh and history of Christ, inasmuch as God willed to reveal himself fully in that flesh. For this reason, he says, there is no difference in the faith of “those able to discourse of it at length” and “those who speak but little”, between the greater and the less: the first cannot increase the faith, nor the second diminish it.41 [Cf. Iren., Adv. Haer., I, 10, 2: SC 264, 160.]

Fides insuper una est, quia ad unum Dominum se vertit, ad vitam Iesu, ad specificam eius historiam, quam nobiscum communicat. Sanctus Irenaeus Lugdunensis hoc adversus haereticos gnosticos explanavit. Illi asserebant duo esse fidei genera: genus nempe rudis fidei, fidei simplicium, imperfectae, quae permanebat iuxta gradum carnis Christi atque contemplationis eius mysteriorum; necnon alterum fidei genus, altius et perfectius, fidei nempe verae, reservatae parvo manipulo initiatorum qui exaltabantur intellectu ultra carnem Iesu usque ad mysteria ignotae divinitatis. Prae hac arrogantia, quae suam alere pergit attractionem suosque asseclas etiam nostra aetate, sanctus Irenaeus asserit fidem unam esse tantum, quia semper ducitur per specificam Incarnationis viam, nec umquam carnem historiamque Christi praetergreditur, quandoquidem Deus in ea plane se revelare voluit. Quamobrem non differt fides inter « eum qui valde praevalet in sermone » et eum qui est « infirmus in dicendo », inter eum qui multum potest et eum qui minus: nec prior fidem « amplificat neque is qui minus deminorat ».41

Finally, faith is one because it is shared by the whole Church, which is one body and one Spirit. In the communion of the one subject which is the Church, we receive a common gaze. By professing the same faith, we stand firm on the same rock, we are transformed by the same Spirit of love, we radiate one light and we have a single insight into reality.

Denique fides una est, quoniam ab universa Ecclesia participatur, quae est unum corpus et unus Spiritus. In communione solius subiecti, quod est Ecclesia, communi fruimur intuitu. Eandem fidem profitentes, eadem petra innitimur, transformamur ab eodem Spiritu amoris, unicam diffundimus lucem et unicum habemus intuitum ad realitatem contemplandam.





48. Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that point of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (cf. 1 Tim 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasized. Indeed, inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion. The Fathers described faith as a body, the body of truth composed of various members, by analogy with the body of Christ and its prolongation in the Church.42[Cf. Iren., Adv. Haer., II, 27, 1: SC 294, 264.] The integrity of the faith was also tied to the image of the Church as a virgin and her fidelity in love for Christ her spouse; harming the faith means harming communion with the Lord.43 [Cf. Augustine, De Sancta Virg., 48, 48: PL 40, 424-425: “Servatur et in fide inviolata quaedam castitas virginalis, qua Ecclesia uni viro virgo casta coaptatur”.] The unity of faith, then, is the unity of a living body; this was clearly brought out by Blessed John Henry Newman when he listed among the characteristic notes for distinguishing the continuity of doctrine over time its power to assimilate everything that it meets in the various settings in which it becomes present and in the diverse cultures which it encounters,44 [Cf. .Essay on Dev’t of Chr. Doctr. (London, 1868-1881), 185-189.] purifying all things and bringing them to their finest expression. Faith is thus shown to be universal, catholic, because its light expands in order to illumine the entire cosmos and all of history.

48. Cum fides una sit, profitenda est in omni puritate et integritate. Quandoquidem nempe omnes fidei articuli in unum coalescunt, si unus eorum negatur, etiamsi quidam ex iisdem minoris momenti videantur, idem est ac si eorum complexus deleatur. Quaevis aetas invenire potest aspectus fidei facilius vel difficilius admittendos: quapropter magni momenti est vigilare ut integrum fidei depositum transmittatur (cfr 1 Tim 6,20), ut opportune instantia provehatur in omnes confessionis fidei aspectus. Etenim, cum fidei unitas sit Ecclesiae unitas, auferre aliquid fidei idem est ac aliquid de veritate communionis detrahere. Patres tamquam unum corpus fidem descripserunt, corpus veritatis, varia continens membra, per analogiam cum Christi corpore eiusque in Ecclesia continuatione.42 Fidei integritas conectitur etiam cum imagine Ecclesiae virginis, cum eius fidelitate in sponsali amore erga Christum: fidem corrumpere significat communionem cum Domino corrumpere.43 Fidei unitas ergo est tamquam unitas corporis viventis, prout merito docuit beatus Ioannes Henricus Newman cum, inter peculiaria signa quibus distinguitur temporalis continuatio doctrinae, enumerabat eius potestatem in se omnia quae invenit assumendi, in diversis locis in quo praesens est, in diversis culturis in quibus versatur,44 omnia purificans et ad meliorem expressionem redigens. Itaque fides ostenditur universalis, catholica, quoniam lumen eius augescit ad illuminandum mundum universum cunctamque historiam.





49. As a service to the unity of faith and its integral transmission, the Lord gave his Church the gift of apostolic succession. Through this means, the continuity of the Church’s memory is ensured and certain access can be had to the wellspring from which faith flows. The assurance of continuity with the origins is thus given by living persons, in a way consonant with the living faith which the Church is called to transmit. She depends on the fidelity of witnesses chosen by the Lord for this task. For this reason, the magisterium always speaks in obedience to the prior word on which faith is based; it is reliable because of its trust in the word which it hears, preserves and expounds.45 [Cf. Vat.II. Dog. Const. on Div. Rev. Dei Verbum, 10.] In Saint Paul’s farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus, which Saint Luke recounts for us in the Acts of the Apostles, he testifies that he had carried out the task which the Lord had entrusted to him of “declaring the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Thanks to the Church’s magisterium, this counsel can come to us in its integrity, and with it the joy of being able to follow it fully.

49. Ad praestandum servitium unitati fidei eiusque integrae transmissioni Dominus Ecclesiae tradidit donum apostolicae successionis. Per illam in tuto collocatur continuatio memoriae Ecclesiae et cum certitudine recurrere licet ad limpidum fontem, ex quo fides oritur. Certitudo nexus cum origine datur ergo a personis vivis, quod quidem fidei vivae congruit quam Ecclesia transmittit. Ipsa fidelitate nititur testium a Domino ad huiusmodi munus electorum. Quare Magisterium iugiter loquitur oboediens Verbo originario, in quo reponitur fides, et est commendabile quoniam Verbo committitur quod audit, custodit et explanat.45 Dum in sermone presbyteros Ephesi Mileti valedicit, quem sanctus Lucas rettulit in Actibus Apostolorum, sanctus Paulus asserit se munus sibi a Domino concreditum complevisse, videlicet omnem Dei voluntatem nuntiandi (cfr Act 20,27). Magisterii Ecclesiae auxilio ad nos integra pervenire potest haec voluntas, et insimul laetitia eandem in plenitudine exsequendi.

Ch 4 God Prepares a City for Them






(cf. Heb 11:16)

 (cfr Heb 11,16)











 Faith and the common good

Fides ac bonum commune







50. In presenting the story of the patriarchs and the righteous men and women of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews highlights an essential aspect of their faith. That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human beings can dwell together with one another. The first builder was Noah who saved his family in the ark (Heb 11:7). Then comes Abraham, of whom it is said that by faith he dwelt in tents, as he looked forward to the city with firm foundations (cf. Heb 11:9-10). With faith comes a new reliability, a new firmness, which God alone can give. If the man of faith finds support in the God of fidelity, the God who is Amen (cf. Is 65:16), and thus becomes firm himself, we can now also say that firmness of faith marks the city which God is preparing for mankind. Faith reveals just how firm the bonds between people can be when God is present in their midst. Faith does not merely grant interior firmness, a steadfast conviction on the part of the believer; it also sheds light on every human relationship because it is born of love and reflects God’s own love. The God who is himself reliable gives us a city which is reliable.

50. Historiam exponens patriarcharum iustorumque Veteris Testamenti, Epistula ad Hebraeos in lucem profert praecipuum eorum fidei aspectum. Haec non configuratur tantum velut iter quoddam, sed etiam tamquam aedificatio, praeparatio loci in quo homo una cum ceteris habitare possit. Primus enim constructor est Noe, qui in arca suam familiam salvam facere valet (cfr Heb 11,7). Deinde apparet Abraham, de quo affirmatur quod « per fidem » in tentoriis morabatur, exspectans firma fundamenta habentem civitatem (cfr Heb 11,9-10). Oritur ergo, quoad fidem, nova quaedam fiducia, nova quaedam soliditas, quam Deus tantummodo largiri potest. Si homo fidei in Deo-Amen innititur, in Deo fideli (cfr Is 65,16) et ideo ipsemet firmus redditur, addere possumus fidei firmitatem respicere etiam civitatem quam Deus homini praeparat. Fides revelat quam firma possint esse vincula inter homines, cum inter eosdem Deus praesens efficitur. Haud evocat tantum interiorem quandam soliditatem, stabilem credentis persuasionem; fides illuminat etiam necessitudines inter homines, quia oritur ex amore et sequitur dynamicam amoris Dei. Credibilis Deus credibilem civitatem hominibus tradit.





51. Precisely because it is linked to love (cf. Gal 5:6), the light of faith is concretely placed at the service of justice, law and peace. Faith is born of an encounter with God’s primordial love, wherein the meaning and goodness of our life become evident; our life is illumined to the extent that it enters into the space opened by that love, to the extent that it becomes, in other words, a path and praxis leading to the fullness of love. The light of faith is capable of enhancing the richness of human relations, their ability to endure, to be trustworthy, to enrich our life together. Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. Without a love which is trustworthy, nothing could truly keep men and women united. Human unity would be conceivable only on the basis of utility, on a calculus of conflicting interests or on fear, but not on the goodness of living together, not on the joy which the mere presence of others can give. Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in his love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good. Faith is truly a good for everyone; it is a common good. Its light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope. The Letter to the Hebrews offers an example in this regard when it names, among the men and women of faith, Samuel and David, whose faith enabled them to “administer justice” (Heb 11:33). This expression refers to their justice in governance, to that wisdom which brings peace to the people (cf. 1 Sam 12:3-5; 2 Sam 8:15). The hands of faith are raised up to heaven, even as they go about building in charity a city based on relationships in which the love of God is laid as a foundation.

51. Profecto ob conexionem eius cum amore (cfr Gal 5,6), fidei lumen ponitur in reale ministerium iustitiae, iuris et pacis. Fides oritur ex occursu cum originario amore Dei, in quo apparent vitae nostrae bonitas ac sensus; haec illuminatur perinde ac ingreditur in vim dynamicam hoc amore apertam, quatenus nempe iter fit et actio in amoris plenitudinem. Fidei lumen divitias humanarum necessitudinum existimare valet, capacitatem nempe persistendi, fiduciam suscitandi, vitam communem ditandi. Fides a mundo non abstrahit nec aliena apparet a specifica actuositate hominum nostrae aetatis. Si credibilis amor deesset, nihil unitatem inter homines servare posset. Unitas inter eos intellegi posset tantum uti unitas innixa in utilitatem, in compositionem lucri, in formidinem, sed non in donum una simul vivendi, non in laetitiam quam suscitare potest sola alterius praesentia. Fides efficit ut intellegatur necessitudinum humanarum structura, quoniam percipit eius ultimum fundamentum sortemque definitivam in Deo eiusque amore, et itaque illustrat artem aedificationis, bono communi servitium praestando. Sic, fides donum est pro omnibus, donum est commune, lumen eius illucescit non tantum internum Ecclesiae nec tantummodo utile redditur ad civitatem aeternam ultra exstruendam; ipsa nos adiuvat ad societates nostras aedificandas, ita ut ad futurum spei progrediantur. Epistula ad Hebraeos huiusmodi exemplum praebet cum, inter fidei viros, memorat Samuel et David, quibus fides permisit « operari iustitiam » (Heb 11,33). Haec expressio hic afficit eorum iustitiam in regimine, illam sapientiam quae populo pacem affert (cfr 1 Sam 12,3-5; 2 Sam 8,15). Fidei manus ita ad caelum levantur, sed hoc evenit dum in caritate aedificant civitatem, necessitudinibus exstructam, quarum Dei amor est fundamentum.








Lumen Fidei

Faith and the family

            Fides et familia

El Greco,
The Holy Family







52. In Abraham’s journey towards the future city, the Letter to the Hebrews mentions the blessing which was passed on from fathers to sons (cf. Heb 11:20-21). 52. De Abraham itinere ad futuram civitatem, Epistula ad Hebraeos breviter attingit benedictionem quae a parentibus in filios transmittitur (cfr Heb 11,20-21).
The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the FAMILY. Primus ambitus in quo fides illuminat hominum civitatem invenitur in familia.

I think first and foremost of the

stable union of

man and woman

in marriage [matrimonio].

Cogitamus praesertim


  viri mulierisque

     consortionem in matrimonio.

Marriage is an Icon of

Divine Love

This union is born of their love, Ipsa oritur ex eorum amore,
as a sign and presence of God’s own love, signo praesentiaque Dei amoris,

Complimentarity of

Different Genders

and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, ex cognitione et acceptatione bonitatis in differentia sexuali,
whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) cuius vi coniuges iungi possunt in una carne (cfr Gen 2,24)



and are enabled to give birth to a new life, atque sunt capaces novam vitam generandi,

Fertility is an Icon of

Divine Love

a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. manifestationem bonitatis Creatoris, eius sapientiae eiusque consilii amoris.

Commitment to a Lifetime 

of Loving

Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Hoc amore constituti, vir et mulier mutuum amorem spondere possunt gestu quodam qui totam vitam complectitur et tot fidei signa memorat.

Lifetime Fidelity Deepens

Human Maturity

Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us Spondere amorem qui in perpetuum observetur dari potest cum inceptum detegitur maius propriis propositis, quod nos sustinet

Become a Gift

to the Other

and enables us to surrender [tradere=hand over] our future entirely to the one we love. nosque sinit integrum futurum personae dilectae tradere.



Parenthood as a Vocation and

"Trust" from God

Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who [tradit= hands over and] entrusts us with the mystery of a new person. Fides porro opem fert ut filiorum generatio tota in sua altitudine divitiisque percipiatur, quoniam efficit ut in ea agnoscatur creans amor, qui tradit et committit nobis novae personae mysterium.



    So it was that Sarah, by faith, became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to his promise (cf. Heb 11:11).

Itaque suam per fidem Sara mater facta est, in Dei fidelitate eiusque repromissione confidens (cfr Heb 11,11).





53. In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood: children learn to trust in the love of their parents. This is why it is so important that within their families parents encourage shared expressions of faith which can help children gradually to mature in their own faith. Young people in particular, who are going through a period in their lives which is so complex, rich and important for their faith, ought to feel the constant closeness and support of their families and the Church in their journey of faith. We have all seen, during World Youth Days, the joy that young people show in their faith and their desire for an ever more solid and generous life of faith. Young people want to live life to the fullest. Encountering Christ, letting themselves be caught up in and guided by his love, enlarges the horizons of existence, gives it a firm hope which will not disappoint. Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness.

53. In familia fides omnes gradus aetatis complectitur, inde ab infantia: pueri amori suorum parentum confidere discunt. Quocirca magni est momenti ut parentes communia fidei exercitia excolant in familia, ut fidei filiorum maturationem prosequantur. Iuvenes potissimum, qui vitae aetatem perquam complicatam, locupletem et maximi momenti quoad fidem experiuntur, familiae ecclesialisque communitatis propinquitatem sollicitudinemque, in fidem adolescentes, animadvertere debent. In conventibus Dierum Mundialium Iuventutis omnes percepimus quomodo fidei laetitiam, officium fidei firmius studiosiusque tenendae iuvenes ostenderent. Iuvenes insignem vitam affectant. Cum Christus convenitur, cum eius amor prehendit ac dirigit, exsistentiae prospectus dilatatur, firma eidem spes donatur, quae non decipit. Fides refugium non est pro carentibus audacia, sed est vitae dilatatio. Ipsa magnam detegere sinit vocationem, vocationem nempe ad amorem, et certiores facit hunc amorem credibilem esse, et operae pretium esse ut eidem commendetur, quoniam fundamentum eius invenitur in Dei fidelitate, quae fortior est qualibet nostra infirmitate.





 A light for life in society

Lumen pro vita in societate







54. Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood. Modernity sought to build a universal brotherhood based on equality, yet we gradually came to realize that this brotherhood, lacking a reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation, cannot endure. We need to return to the true basis of brotherhood. The history of faith has been from the beginning a history of brotherhood, albeit not without conflict. God calls Abraham to go forth from his land and promises to make of him a great nation, a great people on whom the divine blessing rests (cf. Gen 12:1-3). As salvation history progresses, it becomes evident that God wants to make everyone share as brothers and sisters in that one blessing, which attains its fullness in Jesus, so that all may be one. The boundless love of our Father also comes to us, in Jesus, through our brothers and sisters. Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters.

54. Recepta et in familia penitus perspecta, fides lumen fit ad omnes sociales relationes illuminandas. Sicut experientia paternitatis Dei itemque Dei misericordiae, inde in iter fraternum dilatatur. In « moderna aetate » temptatum est inter homines fraternitatem construere universalem, eorum aequalitate innixam. Paulatim tamen intelleximus hanc fraternitatem, nisi ad communem Patrem tamquam ultimum eius fundamentum referatur, subsistere non posse. Necesse est igitur ad veram fraternitatis radicem regredi. Fidei historia, inde ab initio, historia exstitit fraternitatis, etsi non sine conflictationibus. Deus Abraham vocat ad terram eius deserendam eique pollicetur se eum magnam nationem, magnum populum effecturum, in quo divina Benedictio requiescit (cfr Gn 12,1-3). Salutis historia procedente, homo detegit Deum omnes, tamquam fratres, participes facere velle unicae benedictionis, quae in Iesu suam plenitudinem reperit, ut omnes unum fiant. Patris inexhauribilis amor nobiscum communicatur in Iesu etiam per fratris praesentiam. Fides docet nos percipere in omni homine benedictionem esse pro me, lucem vultus Dei per fratris vultum me illuminare.

How many benefits has the gaze of Christian faith brought to the city of men for their common life! Thanks to faith we have come to understand the unique dignity of each person, something which was not clearly seen in antiquity. In the second century the pagan Celsus reproached Christians for an idea that he considered foolishness and delusion: namely, that God created the world for man, setting human beings at the pinnacle of the entire cosmos. “Why claim that [grass] grows for the benefit of man, rather than for that of the most savage of the brute beasts?”46[ Origen, Contr. Cels., IV, 75: SC 136, 372.] “If we look down to Earth from the heights of heaven, would there really be any difference between our activities and those of the ants and bees?”47 [Ibid., 85: SC 136, 394.] At the heart of biblical faith is God’s love, his concrete concern for every person, and his plan of salvation which embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without insight into these realities, there is no criterion for discerning what makes human life precious and unique. Man loses his place in the universe, he is cast adrift in nature, either renouncing his proper moral responsibility or else presuming to be a sort of absolute judge, endowed with an unlimited power to manipulate the world around him.

Quot beneficia fidei christianae intuitus attulit hominum civitati pro eorum vita communi! Propter fidem intelleximus dignitatem unicam cuiusque personae, quae in antiquis temporibus ita non monstrabatur. Saeculo II paganus Celsus christianis exprobrabat de eo quod ipsi illusio et dolus videbatur: cogitare videlicet Deum creavisse mundum pro homine, in fastigio eum totius universi locando. Ipse ergo interrogabat: « Cur dices ea [herbas] magis hominibus nasci, quam ferissimis animantibus ratione privatis? ».46 « Si quis e caelo in terram despiceret, quidnam illi videretur interesse discriminis inter ea quae homines et quae formicae apesque faciunt? ».47 Personalis Dei amor medium locum biblicae fidei occupat, eius realis cura de omni homine, eius salutis consilium quod omnes homines totamque creationem complectitur atque in Iesu Christi Incarnatione, Morte et Resurrectione suum attingit fastigium. Cum realitas haec obscuratur, criterium deest ad discernendum id quod hominis vitam pretiosam et unicam efficit. In universo suum locum ipse amittit, in natura deperditur, renuntians propriae morali responsalitati, aut absolutum se arbitrum esse praesumit, potestatem sibi tribuentem res illimitate disponendi.





55. Faith, on the other hand, by revealing the love of God the Creator, enables us to respect nature all the more, and to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care. Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good. Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity.

55. Fides insuper, dum nobis Dei Creatoris amorem revelat, efficit ut nos magis naturam servemus, in ea quandam grammaticam agnoscamus ab Ipso scriptam et mansionem nobis concreditam ut colatur et custodiatur; adiuvat nos ad exempla invenienda progressionis quae non tantum in utilitate et lucro consistant, sed donum creatum putent, cuius omnes debitores sumus; docet nos iustas formas gubernii discernere, agnoscendo auctoritatem a Deo procedere, ut communi bono inserviat. Fides asserit quoque veniam dari posse, quae pluries tempore, labore, patientia et operositate indiget: venia dari potest cum detegitur bonum usque prius fortiusque esse quam malum, et verbum, quo Deus nostram vitam roborat, altius esse omnibus nostris negationibus. Ceterum, etiam sub solo aspectu anthropologico, unitas superior est conflictatione; nobis etiam est munus suscipiendum contentionis, quam, dum involvimur, expedire, superare debemus, eam in catenam, in progressum quendam ad unitatem transmutantes.

When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened, as the poet T.S. Eliot warned: “Do you need to be told that even those modest attainments / As you can boast in the way of polite society / Will hardly survive the Faith to which they owe their significance?”48 [“Choruses from The Rock”, in The Collected Poems and Plays 1909-1950, New York, 1980, 106.] If we remove faith in God from our cities, mutual trust would be weakened, we would remain united only by fear and our stability would be threatened. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read that “God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them” (Heb 11:16). Here the expression “is not ashamed” is associated with public acknowledgment. The intention is to say that God, by his concrete actions, makes a public avowal that he is present in our midst and that he desires to solidify every human relationship. Could it be the case, instead, that we are the ones who are ashamed to call God our God? That we are the ones who fail to confess him as such in our public life, who fail to propose the grandeur of the life in common which he makes possible? Faith illumines life and society. If it possesses a creative light for each new moment of history, it is because it sets every event in relationship to the origin and destiny of all things in the Father.

Cum deficit fides, periculum est ne vivendi quoque fundamenta deficiant, prout monebat poeta Thomas Stearns Eliot: « Estne fortasse necesse ut vobis dicatur modicos ipsos successus / qui efficiunt ut de quadam culta societate gloriemini, / difficulter superfuturos esse fidem, cui suam debent significationem? ».48 Si fides in Deum a nostris civitatibus auferretur, extenuaretur fiducia inter nos; in unum congregaremur tantum ob formidinem, et stabilitas minis vexaretur. In Epistula ad Hebraeos legimus: « Non confunditur Deus vocari Deus eorum, paravit enim illis civitatem » (Heb 11,16). Locutio « non confundi » coniungitur cum publica acceptatione. Hoc modo dicitur Deus sua reali actione publice confiteri suam inter nos praesentiam, suum propositum validas reddendi relationes inter homines. Nos forsitan confundemur si Deum vocaverimus nostrum Deum? Fortasse nostrum erit non confiteri eum nostrum Deum in vita publica, aut non extollere magnitudinem vitae communis, quam ipse possibilem reddit? Fides vitam in societate illuminat; ipsa habet lucem creativam in singulis novis historiae adiunctis, ratio est quae omnes eventus disponit in relatione cum origine et destinatione omnium in Patre, qui nos amat.





 Consolation and strength amid suffering

Consolatoria fortitudo in dolore







56. Writing to the Christians of Corinth about his sufferings and tribulations, Saint Paul links his faith to his preaching of the Gospel. In himself he sees fulfilled the passage of Scripture which reads: “I believed, and so I spoke” (2 Cor 4:13). The reference is to a verse of Psalm 116, in which the psalmist exclaims: “I kept my faith, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted’” (v. 10). To speak of faith often involves speaking of painful testing, yet it is precisely in such testing that Paul sees the most convincing proclamation of the Gospel, for it is in weakness and suffering that we discover God’s power which triumphs over our weakness and suffering. The apostle himself experienced a dying which would become life for Christians (cf. 2 Cor 4:7-12). In the hour of trial faith brings light, while suffering and weakness make it evident that “we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:5). The eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews concludes with a reference to those who suffered for their faith (cf. Heb 11:35-38); outstanding among these was Moses, who suffered abuse for the Christ (cf. v. 26). Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love. By contemplating Christ’s union with the Father even at the height of his sufferings on the cross (cf. Mk 15:34), Christians learn to share in the same gaze of Jesus. Even death is illumined and can be experienced as the ultimate call to faith, the ultimate “Go forth from your land” (Gen 12:1), the ultimate “Come!” spoken by the Father, to whom we abandon ourselves in the confidence that he will keep us steadfast even in our final passage.

56. Sanctus Paulus christianis Corinthi suas memorans tribulationes doloresque, fidem suam coniungit cum Evangelii praedicatione. Dicit enim in se Scripturae sententiam adimpleri: « Credidi, propter quod locutus sum » (2 Cor 4,13). Apostolus recenset Psalmi 116 locum, in quo Psalmista clamat: « Credidi, etiam cum locutus sum: “Ego humiliatus sum nimis” » (116,10). Agere de fide saepenumero idem est ac de dolentibus tribulationibus agere, in quibus utique sanctus Paulus persuadentiorem Evangelii nuntium percipit, quoniam in infirmitate et dolore emergit atque detegitur Dei virtus, quae superat nostram infirmitatem et passionem. Ipse Apostolus in condicione mortis versatur, quae pro christianis in vitam mutabitur (cfr 2 Cor 4,7-12). In tribulationis hora fides nos illuminat, et in dolore sane et in infirmitate patefit: « Non enim nosmetipsos praedicamus sed Iesum Christum Dominum » (2 Cor 4,5). Caput XI Epistulae ad Hebraeos concluditur mentione de iis qui fidei causa passi sunt (cfr 11,35-38), inter quos peculiarem locum Moyses occupat qui sibi assumpsit Christi iniuriam (cfr 11,26). Christianus novit passionem amoveri non posse, sed ipsam sensum suscipere posse, fieri actum amoris, oblationem in manus Dei qui nos non derelinquit, et hoc modo periodum esse fidem et amorem augendi. Contemplans communionem Christi cum Patre, tempore etiam summi doloris in cruce (cfr Mc 15,34), christianus discit intuitum ipsius Iesu participare. Quin immo mors illuminatur et vivi potest tamquam ultima fidei vocatio, ultimum mandatum: « Egredere de terra tua » (Gn 12,1), illud extremum « Veni! » pronuntiatum a Patre, cui nos committimus confidentes ut Ipse nos saldos efficiat in novissimo quoque transitu.





57. Nor does the light of faith make us forget the sufferings of this world. How many men and women of faith have found mediators of light in those who suffer! So it was with Saint Francis of Assisi and the leper, or with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her poor. They understood the mystery at work in them. In drawing near to the suffering, they were certainly not able to eliminate all their pain or to explain every evil. Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. In Christ, God himself wishes to share this path with us and to offer us his gaze so that we might see the light within it. Christ is the one who, having endured suffering, is “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2).

57. Fidei lumen haud sinit nos mundi tribulationes oblivisci. Quot viris mulieribusque fidei patientes fuerunt mediatores luminis! Ita leprosus exstitit pro sancto Francisco Assisiensi, ita pauperes pro beata Teresia Calcuttiensi. Etenim mysterium quod est in illis intellexerunt. Accedentes ad eos non obtinuerunt exstinctionem cuiusque eorum doloris, nec omne malum interpretari potuerunt. Fides non est lumen quod cunctas tenebras nostras dissipat, sed lampas quae noctu gressus nostros illuminat, et hoc ad iter faciendum sufficit. Homini dolenti Deus rationes non tradit ad omnia enodanda, sed offert suam responsionem sub specie praesentiae quae eum comitatur, sub specie historiae boni quod cuilibet passionis historiae nectitur ad aperiendum in ea luminis aditum. In Christo ipse Deus nobiscum hanc viam communicare voluit et nobis suum porrigere contuitum ut in ea lumen videamus. Christus est qui, dolores perferens, sese praebet « ducem fidei et consummatorem » (Heb <

Suffering reminds us that faith’s service to the common good is always one of hope — a hope which looks ever ahead in the knowledge that only from God, from the future which comes from the risen Jesus, can our society find solid and lasting foundations. In this sense faith is linked to hope, for even if our dwelling place here below is wasting away, we have an eternal dwelling place which God has already prepared in Christ, in his body (cf. 2 Cor 4:16-5:5). The dynamic of faith, hope and charity (cf. 1 Th 1:3; 1 Cor 13:13) thus leads us to embrace the concerns of all men and women on our journey towards that city “whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10), for “hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5).

Dolor nos admonet fidei servitium pro bono communi semper esse spei servitium, quae in futurum prospicit, dum scimus tantum a Deo, ex futuro quod de Iesu resuscitato venit, nostram societatem firma stabiliaque fundamenta invenire posse. Hoc in sensu fides cum spe iungitur quia, etiamsi nostrum tabernaculum hic dissolvitur, habitationem habemus aeternam quam Deus iam inchoavit in Christo, in eius corpore (cfr 2 Cor 4,16-5,5). Virtus fidei, spei et caritatis (cfr 1 Thess 1,3; 1 Cor 13,13) ita amplecti nos facit omnium hominum sollicitudines, in nostro itinere ad illam « civitatem, cuius artifex et conditor Deus » (Heb 11,10) ipse est, quoniam « spes non confundit » (Rom 5,5).

In union with faith and charity, hope propels us towards a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives. Let us refuse to be robbed of hope, or to allow our hope to be dimmed by facile answers and solutions which block our progress, “fragmenting” time and changing it into space. Time is always much greater than space. Space hardens processes, whereas time propels towards the future and encourages us to go forward in hope.

Una cum fide et caritate, spes nos proicit in futurum certum, quod in diverso prospectu ponitur pro vanis propositis mundi idolorum, sed novum impulsum novamque vim in cotidiana vita agenda tribuit. Ne sinamus spes nobis abripiatur, nec permittamus ut dissolvatur immediatis solutionibus et propositis quae iter nostrum praecludunt, quae tempus frangunt in spatium mutando. Tempus semper est superius spatio. Spatium processus sistit, tempus autem ad futurum tendit et ad iter in spe faciendum impellit.





 Blessed is she who believed (Lk 1:45)

Beata, quae credidit (Lc 1,45)







58. In the parable of the sower, Saint Luke has left us these words of the Lord about the “good soil”: “These are the ones who when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience endurance” (Lk 8:15). In the context of Luke’s Gospel, this mention of an honest and good heart which hears and keeps the word is an implicit portrayal of the faith of the Virgin Mary. The evangelist himself speaks of Mary’s memory, how she treasured in her heart all that she had heard and seen, so that the word could bear fruit in her life. The Mother of the Lord is the perfect icon of faith; as Saint Elizabeth would say: “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45).

58. In parabola de seminatore sanctus Lucas haec verba tradidit quibus Iesus explicat « bonae terrae » sensum: « Hi sunt, qui in corde bono et optimo audientes verbum retinent et fructum afferunt in patientia » (Lc 8,15). In contextu Evangelii secundum Lucam mentio de corde bono et optimo, quod attinet ad Verbum auditum et retentum, effigiem constituit implicitam fidei Virginis Mariae. Idem Evangelista nobis de memoria Mariae loquitur, quomodo nempe omnia servaverit in corde suo quae audiebat et videbat, ita ut Verbum in vita eius fructum afferret. Mater Domini est perfecta fidei icona, prout asseruit sancta Elisabeth: « Beata, quae credidit » (Lc 1,45).

In Mary, the Daughter of Zion, is fulfilled the long history of faith of the Old Testament, with its account of so many faithful women, beginning with Sarah: women who, alongside the patriarchs, were those in whom God’s promise was fulfilled and new life flowered. In the fullness of time, God’s word was spoken to Mary and she received that word into her heart, her entire being, so that in her womb it could take flesh and be born as light for humanity. Saint Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, uses a striking expression; he tells us that Mary, receiving the message of the angel, conceived “faith and joy”.49[Cf. Dial. Tryph., 100, 5: PG 6, 710.] In the Mother of Jesus, faith demonstrated its fruitfulness; when our own spiritual lives bear fruit we become filled with joy, which is the clearest sign of faith’s grandeur. In her own life Mary completed the pilgrimage of faith, following in the footsteps of her Son.50 [Cf. Vat.II Dog. Const. on the Church Lum. Gent., 58.] In her the faith journey of the Old Testament was thus taken up into the following of Christ, transformed by him and entering into the gaze of the incarnate Son of God.

59. In Maria, Filia Sion, perficitur diuturna historia fidei Veteris Testamenti per narrationem tot fidelium mulierum, incipiens a Sara, mulierum quae, iuxta Patriarchas, sedes erant in qua Dei promissio adimplebatur novaque vita oriebatur. In temporum plenitudine Verbum Dei ad Mariam conversum est, quod ipsa accepit cuncta cum sua exsistentia, suo in corde, ut illud in ea carnem assumeret atque nasceretur uti lumen pro hominibus. Sanctus Iustinus Martyr in Dialogo cum Tryphone venustam profert sententiam asserens Mariam, dum nuntium Angeli excipiebat, percepisse « fidem et gaudium ».49 Etenim in Matre Iesu fides patefacta est fructu plena, et cum nostra vita spiritalis fructum affert, gaudio replemur, quod clarissimum est signum magnitudinis fidei. Maria in sua vita fidei peregrinationem complevit, Filium suum insequens.50  Ita in Maria iter fidei Veteris Testamenti assumitur in sequela Iesu et transformari sinit ab Eo, in intuitum ingrediens proprium Filii Dei incarnati.





59. We can say that in the Blessed Virgin Mary we find something I mentioned earlier, namely that the believer is completely taken up into his or her confession of faith. Because of her close bond with Jesus, Mary is strictly connected to what we believe. As Virgin and Mother, Mary offers us a clear sign of Christ’s divine sonship. The eternal origin of Christ is in the Father. He is the Son in a total and unique sense, and so he is born in time without the intervention of a man. As the Son, Jesus brings to the world a new beginning and a new light, the fullness of God’s faithful love bestowed on humanity. But Mary’s true motherhood also ensures for the Son of God an authentic human history, true flesh in which he would die on the cross and rise from the dead. Mary would accompany Jesus to the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), whence her motherhood would extend to each of his disciples (cf. Jn 19:26-27). She will also be present in the upper room after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, joining the apostles in imploring the gift of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). The movement of love between Father, Son and Spirit runs through our history, and Christ draws us to himself in order to save us (cf. Jn 12:32). At the centre of our faith is the confession of Jesus, the Son of God, born of a woman, who brings us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, to adoption as sons and daughters (cf. Gal 4:4).

Nobis dicere liceat in beata Virgine Maria ea adimpleri, in quibus supra institimus, nempe credentem in sua fidei confessione prorsus implicari. Maria arte coniungitur, propter suum vinculum cum Iesu, cum iis quae credimus. In virginali Mariae conceptu nitidum nobis datur signum divinae filiationis Christi. Aeterna Christi origo est in Patre, cuius ille Filius est totali et unico sensu; et hac de causa nascitur in tempore absque viri interventu. Uti Filius, Iesus mundo afferre potest novum initium et novam lucem, plenitudinem fidelis amoris Dei qui hominibus se tradit. Ceterum, vera Mariae maternitas pro Filio Dei veram provexit humanam historiam, veram carnem in qua in cruce mortuus est et a mortuis resurrexit. Maria comitabatur eum usque ad crucem (cfr Io 19,25), unde eius maternitas omnes Filii discipulos complectitur (cfr Io 19,26-27). In cenaculo quoque post Resurrectionem et Iesu Ascensionem aderat, una cum Apostolis Spiritus Sancti donum imploratura (cfr Act 1,14). Amoris impulsus inter Patrem et Filium in Spiritu Sancto historiam nostram percurrit; Christus ad Seipsum nos attrahit ut nos salvet (cfr Io 12,32). In media fide exstat confessio Iesu, Filii Dei, nati ex muliere, qui nos per Spiritus Sancti donum inducit in adoptionem filiorum (cfr Gal 4,4-6).





60. Let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith.

60. Ad Mariam, Matrem Ecclesiae et Matrem fidei nostrae, convertimus nos orantes.

Mother, help our faith!

Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.

Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.

Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.

Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.

Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.

Remind us that those who believe are never alone.

Adiuva, Mater, fidem nostram!

Erige aures nostras ad Verbum, ut vocem Dei agnoscamus eiusque vocationem.

Suscita in nobis desiderium eius vestigia sequendi, et terram nostram relinquendo et eius promissionem excipiendo.

Adiuva nos ut amore eius attingamur, ut fide eum attingere valeamus.

Adiuva nos ut nos Ipsi plane commendemus, ut eius amori credamus, potissimum tempore tribulationis et crucis, cum fides nostra ad maturationem vocatur.

 Semina in fide nostra gaudium Resuscitati.

Commone nos credentem numquam solum esse. 

Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

Doce nos Iesu oculis contueri, ut in nostro itinere Ille sit lumen; atque hoc fidei lumen in nobis iugiter augeatur, donec dies ille sine occasu adveniat, qui ipse est Christus, Filius tuus, Dominus noster!

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 29 June, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in the year 2013, the first of my pontificate.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die undetricesimo mensis Iunii, in sollemnitate Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, anno Domini bis millesimo tertio decimo, ipso Anno Fidei, Pontificatus Nostri primo.


















(Chapters 1-7: Antony the young ascetic)






















CHAPTER 1. Of the vigils which we endured. 1. De uigiliis quas pertulimus.






Youth and





































CHAPTER 1. Of the vigils which we endured. 1. De uigiliis quas pertulimus.








































































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