Friday, November 26, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (2010年11月29日): How to Grow in Faith 如何增長信德

We have just begun the season of Advent, to prepare for the coming of Christ. During this time we use the Advent wreath, with three purple candles and one rose candle.

These candles symbolize the four weeks of Advent. They are also symbols of faith, hope, charity, and joy. In these four weeks we will explore these four spiritual topics as preparation for Christmas. This week we are going to explore "faith."

Supernatural

Faith is a supernatural virtue by which we firmly believe all the truths which God has revealed to us, and which He teaches through the Catholic Church.

The virtue of faith is "supernatural" in its principle, object, and end. The principle of faith is grace; the object of faith is revealed truths; the end of faith is eternal salvation.

Faith involves grace, will, and intellect. The grace of God moves the will, and the will moves the intellect to give assent to revealed truth. Hence, to increase our faith, we must work on the three areas of grace, will, and intellect.

Grace

Faithfulness to grace will lead to an increase of faith, whereas abuse of grace may lead to unbelief. Prayer and the sacraments are the main sources of grace. Faithfulness to religious practices such as Sunday Mass, confession, and daily prayer is very important for preservation of and growth in faith.

Resistance to grace leads to darkness of the mind and hardness of the heart. We need to open our hearts to co-operate with the grace of God, so that we can have greater confidence and devotion in the practice of faith.

Will

An upright will which is faithful to grace welcomes the practice of virtues (e.g. humility and purity) which are required by faith, and are involved in sacrificing our natural feelings.

A perverse will shuns sacrifice, and gives in to evil passions like pride, avarice, and sensuality. These evil passions darken the mind by inclining it to errors which feed its pride, and by binding it to earthly concerns, at the expense of ignoring the spiritual.

Charity gives life to faith. Hence living faith is accompanied by observance of the commandments and dead faith is not accompanied by observance of the commandments. A person in the state of mortal sin has no living faith.

Intellect

A deep study of Christian faith helps us preserve and increase our faith. Study leads to a fuller and more explicit knowledge of the truth.

Traditionally we make a distinction between the remote and the proximate rule of faith. The remote rule of faith is the word of God in Scripture and Tradition. The proximate rule of faith is the authority of the Church, the infallible interpreter of Scripture and Tradition.

In our study of the faith we must first familiarize ourselves with the proximate rule of faith by the study of the Catechism. The study of the lives and writings of the saints officially proposed to us by the Church is very helpful to the growth of our faith.

For our deeper study of the faith we should go into the sources by familiarizing ourselves with the Bible and the writings of the Fathers.

We have a moral obligation to protect our faith by avoiding reading materials that are dangerous to faith. It is very important for parents to safeguard their children from inappropriate materials.

The Advent season reminds us of Our Lady, who prepared for the coming of Christ. She is the woman of faith. With her help let us strive to deepen our faith by prayer, doing good, and study.

我們剛踏入預備基督聖誕的將臨期。將臨期共四週,以燃點四枝具有象徵意義的顏色蠟燭 —— 三枝紫色、一枝玫瑰紅色 —— 反映我們應以怎樣的心靈,迎接救主耶穌的降臨。而這四枝蠟燭,亦代表了信德、望德、愛德與喜樂。本週,讓我們先探討一下「信德」。

超性之德

信德促使我們深信天主所啟示的真理,及祂藉聖教會授給我們的信條。信德是超性之德,因為它以: 一、聖寵為根本;二、啟示真理為對象;三、永生為終向。天主的聖寵推動人的意志,意志推動理智去認同啟示的真理。故此,要保持和增長信德,則要從聖寵、意志和理智著手。

聖寵

善用聖寵能增加信德,反之,濫用聖寵會造成對天主背信棄義。祈禱與聖事,是獲得聖寵的主要方法;因此,聖功如彌撒、告解和日禱,為保守強化信德非常重要。我們絕不可忽視祈禱與聖事。拒絕順從聖寵會導致思想不清、心靈頑硬。我們需要開放心扉,與天主聖寵合作,以期用更大的信賴和熱誠,活出信德。

意志

正直的意志會忠於天主的聖寵,並樂於遜守其他幫助信德的德行(如謙遜、貞潔);實踐這些德行要求我們克制本性的情感。

任意妄為的意志,迴避了克制的精神,沉溺於偏情如驕傲、貪婪和肉慾;令自負彌漫著思維、俗性瞞閉了超性。

愛德給予信仰生命,所以,恪守天主誡命與信德是不可分割,否則,信仰是死的 —— 犯了大罪的人的信仰是沒有生命的。行善避惡的意志為保守強化信德非常重要。

深入地研讀道理能幫助保守和增強信德。研讀幫助對真理有更明確的認識。

傳統來說,信仰的規律可分為「遠」和「近」。遠的信仰規律源自聖經和聖傳,近的信仰規律便是遵從聖教會的訓令,因為聖教會能「不能錯」地詮釋聖經及聖傳。

學習聖教會要理是最有效塑造信德的開始。閱讀聖教會聖人們的傳記和著作對培育信德大有稗益。此外,熟讀聖經和教父們的文獻指導,能加深對啟示的真理的認識。

我們有義務保守信德,避免危害信德的言論或報刊荼毒理智,父母有責任以相應的行動,防護子女的信德。

聖母是信德的典範,將臨期更提醒我們,聖母是如何準備迎接耶穌的降誕。藉聖母的助佑,讓我們以祈禱、善功和學習,去堅強我們的信德。