Faith is Always a Path


Faith in God is not a form of knowledge that can be learned like chemistry or mathematics, but remains a belief...

Since faith demands our whole existence, our will, our love, since it requires letting go of ourselves, it necessarily always goes beyond a mere knowledge, beyond what is demonstrable.  And because that is so, then I can always turn my life away from faith and find arguments that seem to refute it…

We must have the courage not to lose hold of the truth, to stretch toward it and to accept it humbly and thankfully, whenever it is given to us...  Belief is never simply there, in a way that would enable me to say at a certain point in time:  I have it, and others do not have it.

It is something living, which is inclusive of the whole person in all his dimensions — understanding, will, and feelings.  It can then fasten its roots ever deeper into my life, so that my life becomes more and more nearly identical with my faith;  but for all that it is never just a possession.  A man can always still give way to this other tendency within himself and thus fall away.

Faith is always a path.  As long as we live we are on the way, and on that account faith is always under pressure and under threat.  And it is healthy that it can never turn into a convenient ideology.  That it does not make me hardened and unable to follow the thoughts of my doubting brother and to sympathize with him.  Faith can only mature by suffering anew, at every stage in life, the oppression and the power of unbelief, by admitting its reality and then finally going right through it, so that it again finds the path opening ahead for a while.




Pope Benedict XVI. "Faith is Always a Path." from God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2002).

Reprinted with permission of Ignatius Press.

This excerpt appeared in Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI.


Pope Benedict XVI is the author of Jesus of Nazareth, Vol II, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol I, Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth, Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi, God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est, The End of Time?: The Provocation of Talking about God, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, Salt of the Earth: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church at the End of the Millennium, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, The Spirit of the Liturgy, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Introduction to Christianity, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Behold the Pierced One, and God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life.

Copyright © 2014 Ignatius Press

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