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Dear Father Angelo,

My name is Riccardo

“Faith is a gift from God” and “Salvation is for all” would seem to be, to a superficial analysis, two apparently antithetical statements. How can they be reconciled? This is my thought: “faith is a gift from God that men receive always, provided they have asked for it, and after they have proven that they are pursuing God’s friendship.

Phase 1- Jesus announces that we’ll be saved if we have faith in his Name and believe that he is the Son of God the Father;

Phase 2 – our acceptance or refusal of His message;

Phase 3 – if we accept the message we receive the gift of faith, that we must keep alive by renewing every day our adherence to Christ, to the Church, to God’s Word, without compromises.

So, Jesus makes the first step of the announcement, then it is up to us to make the second step and adhere to him, and then finally we receive the gift of faith.

Faith does not arrive if our second step is not authentic and total, or are there other explanations to account for the testimony of some people who say they are a part of the Church and pursuing a journey of faith, but nevertheless still cannot believe?

I thank you for the great and most useful service you offer the faithful, as well as anyone who is interested in your website and our religion, by making widely available with great humility and charity your christian knowledge through the very good use of the new technologies of this XXI century.

I wish you a Holy Easter. Please say a little prayer for me.


Priest’s answer

Dear Riccardo,

1. The three steps you outlined are substantially true.

By that I mean that there is some truth in what you said, even though theologians would have to soften or change many of your words.

2. The first truth is that our christian faith is a gift from God, because its aim is to allow us to accept realities that surpass our ability to rationally comprehend. Indeed we are talking of truths and realities of a supernatural order and not immediately verifiable, such as for instance the real presence of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine after the priest has pronounced the consecration formula.

3. You may have noticed that I said that “the christian faith is a gift from God”. That is because the knowledge of the existence of God and of some of his perfections through the creatures He made does not go beyond the grasp of our reason. Everybody should be able to understand this, so much so that Saint Paul says that “For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened” (Rm 1,19-21).

4. No doubt God begins to attract us to Him using this rational knowledge by assisting and guiding man’s mind, and this rational knowledge already gives some sort of inclination to believe.

This is why the second Council of Orange (530) defined that “not only the growth, but also the onset of faith, and even the inclination to believe itself, do not come from our natural capacity, but from the gift of grace, i.e. the inspiration of the Holy Spirit” (canon 5, DS375).

More properly though, this knowledge still belongs to the rational order and not yet to the supernatural order of theological faith.

5. God uses other means to communicate to everyone the theological, or christian faith. One in particular is his Word and preaching. However when a man is thus prepared and begins to believe, he does not do so simply because of lessons learned, but because of a secret action that the Lord performs in his heart that allows him to adhere to supernatural realities.

That’s why Saint Thomas says that “it is not the man who announces the truths externally that causes faith, but God, who alone can change the will. He causes faith in the believer by inclining his will and enlightening his intellect with the light of faith so that he does not fight against the truths proposed by the preacher. The preacher meanwhile does the work of exteriorly disposing him for the faith” (De Veritate, 27, 3, ad 12).

6. God offers the gift of faith to everyone because he wants everybody to be saved.

But some do not accept him, for various reasons, including a bad announcement, and against the testimony of some believers. However very often the gift of faith is not accepted for the reason that has been given to us by our Lord, which is undoubtedly the most true one: “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed” (Jn 3,19-20).

7. Therefore personal sin is what more frequently hinders believing. Sin obfuscates, and at times blinds our mind, as most of the times happens with sins of a sexual nature. And this is also why Jesus said in the sermon of the mount :”Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5,8).

8. Finally, the gift of faith, once received, must be nurtured.

Just like a body becomes weak, ill and dies if deprived of food, faith, if it is not nourished with a life of grace, weakens and extinguishes itself.

In order to preserve and keep alive faith it is not enough to believe in the revealed truths, because even demons in their own way believe in them.

It is necessary to keep alive our relationship with our Lord through a life of grace. Because it is not just a matter of adhering to, but of living and tasting, as the Lord said: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14,23).

9. The life of grace is preserved through the observance of the commandments and is nourished by prayer, the sacraments and works of charity. If this is missing it may happen that someone will make a “shipwreck of their faith” (1 Tm 1,19), as it happened to “Hymenaeus and Alexander” (ib.)

Similarly because of sin “some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith” (1 Tm 6,10).Wishing you to keep your faith intact, and to increase it day after day, I assure you of my prayer and I bless you.

Father Angelo