Faith is More than Just a Pious Word

There is no proof for the existence of God. Let me say this in another way: there is nothing we can do, no experiment we can conduct, no mathematical theorem we can calculate which will demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists. For me, however, there is absolutely no doubt that God exists. And that which allows me to have no doubt that God exists – even though there is a total lack of scientific proof – is faith.

Faith is a word that gets used – and misused – a lot in everyday life. Even Catholics (who perhaps should know better) will use the word faith when they really mean trust. When I was in grade school I frequently went to study at the town library. Maybe in a future post I will explain why I preferred to do my homework at the library, but for now suffice it to say I went there a lot. Now when I waited for my parents to pick me up after the library closed I never doubted, I had faith that they would be there. Even if they were a little bit late I always knew they would come; I had faith. But what I thought of as faith was really just the knowledge that my folks had never left me standing out in front of the library all night because they neglected to pick me up. The belief that my parents would pick me up at the library one more time was trust certainly but was not faith.

Faith is believing, knowing and accepting something even when there is no proof – even when no proof is even possible. I believe that God exists, I know beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists and I accept the existence of God. Yet I can’t prove the existence of God. And that, my friends, is faith. We can sit on top of a mountain and look out over the wonders of nature – the forests, the rivers, the lakes – all of them teeming with life; we can sit atop that same mountain after sunset and look at the grandeur of countless stars blazing in the heavens. And when we see these things, the wonders of nature, the immensity of the cosmos, we are certain that God exists. But no matter how certain we are of that existence of God, proof of that existence eludes us. That certainty that God exists even when we can’t prove it the way we can prove that 2 plus 2 equals 4, the way we can prove water is composed of 2 atoms of Hydrogen and 1 atom of Oxygen, that certainty despite the lack of proof is faith.

Faith is not just a pious word. Faith is the foundation that anchors us in the world and allows us to accept and believe the fundamental mysteries of our Catholicism. That there is one God but there are three persons in this one God; that the Son of God is one person but has two natures – one divine, one human; that this same Son of God, Jesus Christ who died to redeem us from our sins, is truly present in the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine. all of this we believe, all of this we accept on faith. But once we accept the foundational tenents of our Catholic religion everything else that we hold and teach to be true just seems to effortlessly flow. Once faith allows us to believe, to know, to accept the existence of God everything else just seems to make a little more sense.

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