Faith is more than a concept. It is a vital, living existential reality that can be experienced by any person who completely opens themselves up to Jesus Christ, and invites Him to live in their hearts. Faith is the beginning of sanctification — union with God. This is the final and ultimate end of man, and is his whole purpose for existence. To know and love God is complete fulfillment; this fulfillment will be fully realized in the afterlife.
Faith is a type of knowledge. It is sure and certain knowledge of both God’s existence and His benevolence towards us. The search for this knowledge of God is the most exciting adventure possible. It is a self-realization in the supernatural order; becoming oneself in relation to the ultimate ground of being — the complete source of all things. Faith brings us into contact with God, enabling us to experience his love and goodness in a palpable and tangible way. It draws us close to God.
Faith thus forms in us a new faculty which enables us to perceive and experience God. As we grow in the spiritual life, this faculty is developed and regenerated. It is in need of regeneration because of original sin, the malady which afflicts us against our will. Although we are placed into this position without wanting to be, it is within our power to be transformed out of this condition and be set into the right relationship with God. This transformation is possible because of Christ’s sacrifice, which atoned for our sin and enabled us to be in communion with God.
God’s love is perceptible. It is palpable, and can be interacted with. This love is so powerful that it is in fact a Person, which is the Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Spirit which sanctifies us and regenerates our inherent sense of God. Christian belief itself originates in this work of the Holy Spirit, which Aquinas and Calvin both called “the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit” or “the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.” This witness or instigation is closely tied to faith — faith enables us to receive this witness and have sure and certain knowledge of God. This is what St. Paul meant when he said that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” That substance is the palpable love of God, and the evidence is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Therefore faith is of the utmost importance in the Christian life. Faith is the power which repairs our sense of God and establishes the reality of Him in our hearts. Faith is thus the gateway for Love, and Love is the force with which we communicate with God. Hope is the result of faith in and love of God. These three virtues, then, in tandem, illuminate our life and invigorate us. They establish within us the ineffable experience and testimony of the truth.