FAITH

ON A LIVELY FAITH
by Bishop Richard Challoner, 1807

Consider first, that the faith to which the word of God gives such high encomiums, and to which it attributes all the great things that have been done by the ancient Saints, is not a dead faith, like that of the devils, or of those wretched souls that are spiritually possessed by the devils, and who have little or no sense of divine truths; but a lively and active faith, that penetrates into the invisible things of God, and makes them familiar to the soul; that sets them continually before her eyes in their proper light, and gives them a constant influence over every step that is to be taken in her mortal pilgrimage. Such a faith as this is the source of all good to the soul; it keeps her in the remembrance and presence of God; it teaches her to watch diligently and to pray fervently; it encourages her to hope and to love; it gives her a horror for sin; it completely arms her against all her spiritual enemies, with a shield that is proof against all their fiery darts, with the helmet of salvation, and with the sword of the spirit, (which is the word and truth of God,) which puts to flight all the legions of hell, when employed against them by a lively belief. But where this lively faith is wanting, all goes to wreck and to ruin. Lord, do thou increase our faith and make it lively. O grant us this true heavenly wisdom, and all good things will come to us along with her, and she will effectually bring us to thee.Consider 2ndly, how true it is, that the want of a lively faith is the source of all the evils that overrun Christendom. Look into all conditions of Christians, and see how sin and Satan everywhere reign, and how few there are, in comparison, that dedicate themselves in good earnest to what should be their only business. And whence comes all this? Do not these men all believe there is a God and an eternity? Do they not all believe that they were made by this God, in order to a happy eternity? Do they not believe there is a heaven and a hell, and that living in mortal sin is the broad road to hell? Do they not believe in a judgment to come, and an all-seeing eye ever upon them, that is one day to decide their cause according to their works, for life or death everlasting? Surely they believe all this, or they are not Christians. But the misfortune is, that their faith of all these, and such like Christian truths, is lulled asleep, or rather is quite dead; it has no influence on their lives, it puts little or no restraint upon their passions and lusts; so that in reality it is the want of a lively faith that fills the Christian world with all sorts of crimes, and that continually crowds hell with souls.

Consider 3rdly, that the Christian must come at this lively faith by desiring, seeking, and heartily praying for it. But the most effectual means of arriving at it is by serious considerations and daily meditations. The great Christian truths relating to God and eternity are very moving when they are duly weighed and considered; but they make little or no impression upon worldlings, who live in a perpetual forgetfulness of them. To bring forth a lively faith in the soul they must take deep root there. But how shall they take deep root if they are not suffered to sink deep into the soul by consideration? Hence the great difference between the good and the bad Christian, the saint and the sinner, is, that the one thinks, and the other does not think; the one keeps his faith alive by frequently meditating on divine truths; the other’s faith is dead, and his whole soul is laid waste with utter desolation, because he seldom or never thinks in his heart.

Conclude to labour for the acquiring and maintaining this lively faith, by praying well and living well, but more especially, by thinking well; for without this, thou wilt have little or no sense of God in thy prayer, and little or no sign of God in thy life.

Prayer to Obtain Final Perseverance

Eternal Father, I humbly adore Thee , and thank Thee for having created and redeemed me through Jesus Christ. I thank Thee most sincerely for having made me a Christian by giving me the true faith , and by adopting me as Thy child in the sacrament of baptism. I thank Thee for having, after the numberless sins I have committed, waited for my repentance, and for having pardoned, as I humbly hope, all my offences, for which I am now sincerely sorry, because they displeased Thee, who art infinite goodness. I thank Thee for having preserved me so frequently from relapsing into my former sins, which I certainly should have done had it not been for Thy divine protection. But my enemies still continue to persecute me, and until the moment of my death they will unceasingly endeavor to make me their slave. If Thou dost not constantly guard and succor me with thy aid, I, a miserable creature, shall return to sin, and certainly lose Thy grace. I beseech Thee, then, for the love of Jesus Christ, to grant me holy perseverance unto death. Jesus Thy Son has promised that Thou wilt grant whatsoever we ask in His name. Through the merits, then, of Jesus Christ I beg, for myself and for all the just, the grace never again to be separated from Thy love, but to love Thee forever, in time and eternity. Mary, Mother of God , pray to Jesus for me.

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