Monday, November 07, 2005

From Meditations and Devotions
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

St. Paul tells us to "look on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith." Faith is the first step towards salvation, and without it we have no hope. For St. Paul says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." It is a divine light; by it we are brought out of darkness into sunshine; by it, instead of groping, we are able to see our way towards heaven. Moreover, it is a great gift, which comes from above, and which we cannot obtain except from Him who is the object of it. He, our Lord Jesus Himself, and He alone, gives us the grace to believe in Him. Hence the Holy Apostle calls Him the author of our faith—and He finishes and perfects it also—from first to last it is altogether from Him. Therefore it was that our Lord said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark ix. 22-23). And hence the poor man to whom He spoke, who believed indeed already, but still feebly, made answer—"crying out with tears, I do believe, Lord; help Thou my unbelief." Hence, too, on another occasion, the Apostles said to our Lord, "Increase our faith" (Luke xvii. 5). And St. Paul draws out fully the whole matter when he reminds his converts, "And you (hath He raised), when you were dead in your offences and sins, wherein in time past you walked, according to the course of this world, ... in which we all conversed in time past, ... and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God (who is rich in mercy), for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together in Christ ... By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God" (Ephesians ii. 1-8).

Let us pray for all the scorners, scoffers, and unbelievers, all false teachers and opposers of the truth, who are to be found in this land.

O Lord Jesus Christ, upon the Cross Thou didst say: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And this surely, O my God, is the condition of vast multitudes among us now; they know not what they might have known, or they have forgotten what once they knew. They deny that there is a God, but they know not what they are doing. They laugh at the joys of heaven and the pains of hell, but they know not what they are doing. They renounce all faith in Thee, the Saviour of man, they despise Thy Word and Sacraments, they revile and slander Thy Holy Church and her Priests, but they know not what they are doing. They mislead the wandering, they frighten the weak, they corrupt the young, but they know not what they do. Others, again, have a wish to be religious, but mistake error for truth—they go after fancies of their own, and they seduce others and keep them from Thee. They know not what they are doing, but Thou canst make them know. O Lord, we urge Thee by Thy own dear words, "Lord and Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Teach them now, open their eyes here, before the future comes; give them faith in what they must see hereafter, if they will not believe in it here. Give them full and saving faith here; destroy their dreadful delusions, and give them to drink of that living water, which whoso hath shall not thirst again.


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