Wednesday, April 13, 2005

From Discourses to Mixed Congregations
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Men do not become Catholics, because they have not faith. Now you may ask me, how this is saying more than that men do not believe the Catholic Church because they do not believe it; which is saying nothing at all. Our Lord, for instance, says, "He who cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he who believeth in Me shall never thirst";—to believe then and to come are the same thing. If they had faith, of course they would join the Church, for the very meaning, the very exercise of faith, is joining the Church. But I mean something more than this: faith is a state of mind, it is a particular mode of thinking and acting, which is exercised, always indeed towards God, but in very various ways. Now I mean to say, that the multitude of men in this country have not this habit or character of mind. We could conceive, for instance, their believing in their own religions, even if they did not believe in the Church; this would be faith, though a faith improperly directed; but they do not believe even their own religions; they do not believe in anything at all. It is a definite defect in their minds: as we might say that a person had not the virtue of meekness, or of liberality, or of prudence, quite independently of this or that exercise of the virtue, so there is such a religious virtue as faith, and there is such a defect as the absence of it. Now I mean to say that the great mass of men in this country have not this particular virtue called faith, have not this virtue at all. As a man might be without eyes or without hands, so they are without faith; it is a distinct want or fault in their soul; and what I say is, that since they have not this faculty of religious belief, no wonder they do not embrace that, which cannot really be embraced without it. They do not believe any teaching at all in any true sense; and therefore they do not believe the Church in particular.


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