Our teacher of living faith, the holy priest St. John of
Kronstadt, in his book "My life in Christ," notes: "Faith is the
key to Godís treasury." This is a very valuable and wise definition of
faith. Faith grants one access to the riches of Godly treasures of life and
eternity. He continues: "It (faith) resides in a simple loving heart.
If you can believe at all, everything is possible to the believer."
He also writes: "Faith is as if oneís spiritual
mouth: the more freely it opens, the greater the flow of Godly sources into
us; let this mouth open (in prayer) as freely as your bodily mouth; let it not
be compressed by doubt and lack of faith: if it is compressed by doubt and lack
of faith, then Godís treasury of blessings will be closed to you. The more open-heartedly
you can believe in Godís All-mightiness, ó the more the generosity of Godís
heart will be revealed to you. When you ask in prayer, believe, that you will
receive: and it will given to you" (My life in Christ, vol. 1, p. 242).
For this reason faith can be called the first
dogma of Christianity. The entire New Testament is filled with the preaching of
It is difficult to explain the notion of faith.
The Apostle Paul says the following: "Faith is the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." "Substance of things hoped
for" ó is the admission that there undoubtedly is, was and will be He, in Whom we hope; here there is internal confirmation,
mysterious notification, that this is how it is. "Evidence of things
unseen" ó even if you cannot see it, even if it is not revealed through
external experience, still the invisible is revealed through internal
experience: in the expansion of spiritual horizons, through joy or in another
way ó through prayer.
Faith is only valid and active in a person when
its object is real, and not only imaginary.
Faith unites one with that in whom or in what one
Faith can only be strong if the subject of faith
is strong or proceeds from a higher Power.
Faith is joyful, but only when we believe in
something perfect, genuine, and elevated.
True faith uplifts, gives wings, makes invincible,
purifies, leads to heaven. Such is the Christian
But if we make something false the object of our
faith, it will only result in the destruction of elements of good in the soul;
it will not be long-lasting and will yield easily to a similarly false object
When people tie themselves by faith to that which,
although real, is low or evil, then such faith lowers their own morals, and
they are caught in the nets of the evil powers.
Credulity is not faith. Credulity is an expression
of frivolity, a superficial acceptance of that which one has just heard.
Credulity reveals a laziness and naivete of the soul and of the mind. What is
easily accepted, it lost just as easily.
Religious faith brings substance and meaning to a
personís life. It creates a fullness of spiritual life. It, even if temporarily
or partially, separates one from low and earthly interests, leading into the
region of elevated, morally pure, holy emotions. Is this faith acquired easily?
ó This depends on the spiritual state of the person, on the content of his
thoughts, habits, and desires. The purer the soul, the easier will it accept good. The more sensitive it is to goodness, the easier will
it answer the call from above. But faith is more demanding than credulity,
because it always demands sacrifice. But on the other hand, this sacrifice,
supported with faith, becomes easier, and in the more lofty,
rare cases leads even to joyous self-sacrifice. Such faith requires almost no
visible or mental proofs. This is why the Gospel says: "Blessed are
they that have have not seen, yet have believed" (John ).
There is sometimes sinless disbelief: "I
believe, Lord, help Thou my disbelief." This confession did not hinder the
healing of the possessed one. There was the faith of the Apostle Thomas,
connected with a thirst for a completeness and strength of faith, expressed in
the words: "Except I shall seeÖI will not believe," (John ). This means, he will not have that joy, which he would
have had upon "seeing," like the other Apostles have had. Sometimes,
doubts or "suspicion" to good tidings of truth shows only how
tremendously important this news is to the person, as well as how pure or great
his soul is, as we see in the Apostle Thomas.
Religious faith is not alike to believing in oneís
own power. Some religious sects are gravely in error, when they teach of the
benefits and worthiness of faith "as it is," faith in that which is
desired: convincing oneself of oneís health, success, or welfare. Such faith is
self-deception and is an enemy of Christianity.
We can firmly call our Christian faith the first
dogma of Christianity. We begin our daily confession of our Christian
fundamentals with this affirmation: "I believe in One God," from the
According to St. Irinaeus of Lyons, faith is the vessel for collecting living water,
and this living water is the grace of God.
"It is impossible to please God without
faith, for it is demanded that a person believe that God exists, and rewards
those who seek Him."
That is why we are commanded: "Examine
yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own
selves." ó check yourself, whether you have faith (2 Cor. 13:5),
teaches the Apostle.
To which capacity of the soul does faith belong:
to the mind, to the will, or to thefeeling?
Partially, the object of our faith is contained in
our mind. Still, this is more than knowledge or a"confirmed
supposition" which can we often see in our lives.
Faith possesses a unique motivating force.
It cannot be called a "
phenomenon of will " because, though faith can move mountains, a
Christian refuses his own personal will, giving himself over to the will of
God: "Thy Will be done to me, a sinner."
Does faith belong to the realm of feeling? But it
is more complex than an individualís feelings: it has elements of fear, honor,
reverence, humility. Therefore, it infiltrates the entire soul.
Faith is only active when the soul is
united with Godís grace. And the latter happens to the greatest extent when the
soul is beautified by and unified with love. As the Apostle Paul says: "Faith
which worketh by love," which in the Church Slavonic is so well
expressed by the words: "Faith, accompanied by love," as if the two
are traveling together, supporting each other in their activity. (Gal. 5:6).
Faith is an active power. But it does not
act through the power of imagination or self-hypnosis, as some sects will
define it, but through being tied with the source of all strength ó God. "He
that believeth on me, as the scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow
rivers of living water," said the Lord (John ).
Christís Church is founded on faith as if on a
rock, on a solid foundation. "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought
righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the
violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made
strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens"
How should we understand the Lordís words to the
Apostles: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say
unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and
nothing shall be impossible unto you?" (Matt. 17:20) Does not the Lord
speak about the possibility of developing faith in oneís own powers?
Of course and absolutely not. The mustard seed, no matter how small, has in itself a
fullness of life. Containing life in the tiniest bit of "matter," it
proceeds to its purpose and achieves it without the least deviation, without,
so to say, personal sin. The Savior spoke of an ultimate perfection to which
all Christians must strive. He spoke of the apex of holiness, where the
believer is unified with God, Whose strength is boundless. The Apostles and all
the holy miracle-workers succeeding them always performed healings and other
miraculous acts in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of
faith in Him and the power of prayer to Him, or in the name of the Most Holy
Trinity, fulfilling the prophecy: "He that believeth on me, the works
that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John
14:12). When the people, astonished that the Apostle Peter had healed a person
lame from birth, ran to the Apostles, Peter told them: "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us,
as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?Ö And His name through faith in His name hat made this man
strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him
this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" (Acts, Chap. 3).
The essence of Christianity is faith in the Son of
God, the Only-Begotten, Who came in the flesh for the salvation of people, to
grant them eternal life in God. The goal of all New Testament Writings is to
firmly establish faith in those who are called by God and answer the call, as
we read in the next to last chapter of Johnís Gospel. In principle, all
historical Christianity, Christianity in the broad sense of the word, stands on
this basic point of faith. In the course of time it has splintered into many
groups that are disassociated from one another. It is not surprising that the
more sensitive Christians have pondered on how to overcome the divisions and
differences in thinking. This idea comes from Protestantism. They want to enter
the "movement" of old historical churches, notwithstanding the
lattersí "orthodoxy" and conservative exterior that are so much
foreign to Protestantism. The representatives of the Orthodox churches, on the
other hand, finding themselves in difficult situations, hope to find some
protection in this movement and thus answer the Protestantsí proposals.
The hopes of the ones are weak,
the hopes of the others are pitiful. It is significant that organized atheism
is not hostile to this movement and even supports it.
The Orthodox entering this movement forsake and even sacrifice certain points of their Orthodox
faith. The most important in faith is forgotten and lost. All non-Orthodox
Christianity has lost the Church. And the Orthodox, entering this
"movement," the ecumenism, do not understand
that they are leaving the Church. The Church is not a gathering or union of
little-believers and sinners, led by "learned theologians." The
Church is an existence or a unified spiritual world, a heaven-and-earth
organism, whose Head is Christ Himself. The Church
possesses complete holiness and unity. The Apostles are its spiritual leaders.
It is truly universal, because it envelops the heavenly and earthly. And we,
the earthly, live in it, breathe its spirit, but in it we are still
"called." Being accepted into the Church, we are the chosen, but we
still do not have the raiment to enter into Christís Chamber. "Verily,
I behold Thy chamber adorned, and I possess no robe to enter thereunto."
We are still in danger of straying from the path, as the many and many who have
lost it. We are in the Church, but we are among those "being saved,"
not those already saved. And thus we must be particularly faithful to the
Church, where we can receive help from our heavenly teachers and brothers.
I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, and ApostolicChurch, which was, is and will be until the end of the world.