Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | December 20, 2007

Faith, the other half of the story that you were never told in Class

Many of you have memorized Heb 11, 1 which states: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things that appear not. In his latest encyclical, Pope Benedict breaks down this verse for us in a way that is not common to what we hear from the pulpit. Let us analyze this verse from the original Greek text (I’d handwrite, but well, I can type it)

εστιν δε πιστιs ελπιζομενων υποστασιs, πραγματων ελεγχοs ου βλεπομενων

Now. I’m not going to disect the entire verse, but I do want to point out two words.

The first word is the word υποστασιs: which can mean one of the following things: a substance, a real thing, or an assurance. (There are other deffintions, but they don’t fit the context of the sentence). Now when we take a look at those two words: substance and assurance, what do we see? In the word substance, there is an implied objective reality to a situation. For example, when I say that a textbook doesn’t have substance, what I mean is that the material is lacking, the concrete details are not there. An assurance is something that is subjective. Think of it like this: You’re in a class, you’re doing well, you’re assured a good grade. (And then you find out that the teacher grades on bell curve, in which case everything’s messed up)

This is not to say that assurance isn’t a vaild translation of the Greek text, but it points to different direction. A more “Protestant direction,” which some how crept into our Modern Catholic Translations. Let us think about that statement for a min. What do you hear from them all the time. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to, all that matters if your faith (e.g. Sola Fide), or that you are saved by faith. We as Catholics know that this is not the case by any means, but that you are Saved by God’s grace through faith and because of your love for God, you do works. (Faith in itself is an act as well, but that’s not the point of this disussion).

The next word that I want to talk about is ελεγχοs which can mean: a proof, evidence, or conviction. Now in some translations, conviction is used in Heb 11, 1. When we say the word conviction it implies something internal, something more personal (again, the point of this discussion is not on internal Faith). When we say something like evidence, it implies that it’s objective (evidence must be objective and concrete). In the Memorial Acclimation (as it is more properly called, not the mystery of Faith (as that is the Eucharist)) We say Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This objective sense, the clear evidence in what has happened. Christ’s ressurection (something that we did not see). Is to be where our Faith lies.

The external actions of Faith: Belief in the Eucharist, Belief in the Reurrection. Point to the fact that faith is not just personal it’s public as well. The sad part is that we don’t hear about the other half of Faith listening to Father from the Pulpit. I hope that by reading this you are able to understand better the external Faith that we should have. Amen!


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