Bear with me here, because I am about to say a series of words which mean very little to most of you, but the reason for doing so will become more apparent as this article goes on, so prepare to grit your teeth…
I, the author, am a Catholic- I am proud to state that I believe in the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church to be those which lead to the most ordered society and the fullness of truth. I believe in the Communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of Sins, the Humanity, Divinity, Death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. I believe in the Apostolic Succession, the Authority of the Magisterium and the Primacy of Rome.
There, see, that wasn’t so bad. Or it might have caused you to be taken violently ill with a case of eye-rolling nausea, in which case I can only encourage you to read on in the hope that all becomes clear.
Now, to someone who is not Catholic, or even to some Catholics, the words which I have used mean nothing. They mean less than nothing. They are meaningless both in interpretation and belief. As Wittgenstein would say, I am playing a language game- rendering words meaningless without providing proper context. In light of that, the faith which they carry with them is something which requires context. Make no mistake- I will not seek to proselytise; rather try and explain why Faith and Belief is not meaningless to have, and ought to be considered by both the sacred and secular worlds alike.
“If you believe there is a right and a wrong, however subjective you may hold it to be, then do not be afraid to live it out confidently.”
Now, before one can explore this, one must draw the distinction between Faith and Belief, for they are two different sides of the same coin. The best way to illustrate the difference between the two is to understand that Faith is Belief in action. In other words, Faith is taking what you already believe and allowing the confidence in that Belief to flow into our actions. So if I believe in what was listed above, then I have to allow the consequences of that Belief to be evident in my day-to-day life in order to exhibit Faith in it- I have to embrace the dynamic journey. Ergo: Faith= (Belief + Confidence + Action).
This arithmetic is something which I am convinced is transposable even in a secular context. For example, in the secular world, we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t admit that we still are acting according to a belief in truths which exist independent of ourselves. This can be a belief in oneself, in our friends and family, in democracy or the rule of law. They are more vague and less developed than those of an organised religion, but they are as intrinsic.
All I present is the idea that we make more of a conscious choice to translate these truths from being simple beliefs into ones which we choose to live out. If you believe there is a right and a wrong, however subjective you may hold it to be, then do not be afraid to live it out confidently. Have courage in your convictions- the world would be a more secure place if we became creatures of honestly held principle as we would start to become more self aware. This is not to say suppress our whims, but we ought to recognise when we act in a different manner to what our principles are.
In truth, the principles or beliefs are meaningless without putting them into action, and that is where Faith comes in. They are two parts of the same coin which forms a part of our individual life. This process is not even inherently religious, simply a natural part of what makes a rational human individual.
So where does that leave us? This is not a call to explore a Religious Faith. I mean, you should not be afraid to consider it if you feel the personal encounter that leads to it. But that is not the overt message. Rather we ought to keep exercising our reason in our everyday lives. Figure out what you believe. Form principles based on that. Exercise your faith in your ability to reason by allowing your beliefs to infiltrate your day-to-day life until you act in a way which is truer to who you are and brings you greater security and self-awareness in your own individuality and uniqueness.