Paintings: “Fides,” “Spes,” and “Caritas” all painted by 19th Century Painter Sir Edward Coley BurneJones.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Faith, like all of the theological virtues, must be understood as a supernatural virtue. Through faith, and by grace, we choose to believe and trust in God’s word and promises in spite of what we see in our natural circumstances. Thus, “having faith” is an act of both the will and the intellect, though Christians also traditionally understand it to be a gift. Jonathan Wilson, in his book Gospel Virtues, describes the nature of faith in the following way: “faith is planted in us by new birth in the Spirit, but as we grow in new life that faith develops and matures.” While faith is a gift it also becomes a part of our Christian character as it is worked out in our life and actions. Abraham is considered the father of the Judeo-Christian religion and exemplar of faith because he “believed God” and obeyed him even when that meant leaving his country and kin.

Faith is described in Ephesians as a shield with which we “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). By faith we resist the temptations of doubt and unbelief. Wilson says that we can understand faith as “the Christian way of knowing” –  knowing what is true, what is good, what is beautiful. In a time where so many different voices compete to tell us who we are and what the truth of the world is, we hold fast to the transcendent truth and mystery of the Gospel as our defining reality by faith.