Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Renewal of Faith and Works

Dear Theophilus,

Advent is a wonderful time of renewal. As the great feast of Christmas approaches, many people who have lost their way are moved to return to the Church. Captivated by the pageantry and mystery of the Word Incarnate they find their faith restored.

To our Protestant brethren who preach the philosophy of sole fide, this restored faith alone is enough to attain the Lord’s promised salvation. To support their errant doctrine, Protestants will inevitably turn to biblical sources:

But my just one shall live by faith ... (Heb. 10:38)


But without faith it is impossible to please him (God) ... (Heb. 11:6)

It is interesting that these quotes are taken in isolation from the rest of St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. The idea that St. Paul is trying to convey through his epistle is that faith is needed if one wants to approach God.

Much like the often quoted “Man shall not live by bread alone…” (Mt. 4:4), he cannot be saved by faith alone. The Lord tells us, and the Catholic Church teaches, that both faith and good works are the true path to salvation. As St. Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians:

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)

As wonderful as the great faith renewal of Advent is, we need to couple it with good deeds if we really want to make ourselves worth of coming face to face with the Word Incarnate in the infant Jesus. It is not simply enough to start attending Mass regularly this Advent and Christmas season (although it’s a great start), this renewed faith must move us to the good works God calls us to do. It could be as small as holding the door for somebody or a small donation to the poor box. Over time you will find that both your faith and Christian good works growing in importance in your life.

This Advent season, how will you renew your faith and good works?

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