Kolbe Report 2/11/23

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Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

St. Paul tells us that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the pledge of things unseen.”  Belief that is founded on natural knowledge is not faith.  If you see the sun rise in the East every morning, you firmly believe that the sun will rise in the East, day after day.  Your belief is a reasonable belief, grounded in your experience.  But Catholic Faith does not depend on experience.  Supernatural Faith is a gift from God that gives you the power to believe all that God has revealed through His Church.  It does not depend on natural knowledge or experience.

Most Catholics receive the supernatural gift of Faith as babies in Holy Baptism.  The Gift of Faith did not give them knowledge of all of the teachings of the Church, but it gave them the power to firmly believe those teachings as they were revealed to them.  That is why the role of parents and God-parents is so important, because they have the responsibility to make sure that the little children who receive the Gift of Faith in Holy Baptism at their request are also taught all of the doctrines of the Catholic Faith.  When baptized children who have not lost the grace of God through serious sin are taught the truths of the Catholic Faith, it is easy for them to believe, because they have the precious gift of supernatural Faith that they received in Holy Baptism.

The Miracle of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Alphonse Ratisbonne, shown here, was a Frenchman of Jewish background.  He did not practice his Jewish religion, and he had nothing but scorn for the Catholic Faith.

On a visit to Rome, at the request of a Catholic friend, Alphonse agreed to wear a medal in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to pray a short prayer to Her every day.  Alphonse did not believe in what he was praying, but he said the prayer to humor his friend.

On January 20, 1832, Alphonse entered the Church of St. Andrea delle Fratte in Rome to “kill time” while his friend attended to some business.  Soon after Alphonse entered the church, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him, exactly as She was depicted on the medal that he was wearing.  As Alphonse beheld the Blessed Virgin, he received infused knowledge of all of the principal doctrines of the Catholic Faith, as well as the gift of supernatural faith, so that he firmly believed all of the doctrines that God put into his mind.  No one “explained” the doctrines of the Faith to Alphonse.  The supernatural gift of Faith instantaneously filled him with the conviction that all of the truths that the Holy Spirit infused into his mind were true.  Indeed, Alphonse was so convinced of the truth of all of the doctrines of the Catholic Faith that he begged to be received into the Catholic Church at once through Holy Baptism.  The Holy Father, Pope Gregory XVI, examined Alphonse and declared that his experience had been truly miraculous.  After receiving Holy Baptism, Alphonse went on to enter the priesthood and eventually founded a congregation of priests dedicated to working and praying for the conversion of the Jewish people to the Catholic Faith.

Faith is Supernatural

Alphonse’s miraculous conversion illustrates the difference between the supernatural Gift of Faith and the knowledge of the doctrines of the Faith, normally received through teaching from parents, God-parents, and other teachers.  The knowledge that Alphonse received from God of the mysteries of the Faith—like the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Holy Eucharist—was truly miraculous.  But by far the greatest gift that Alphonse received was the supernatural gift of Faith that enabled him to firmly believe in all of those mysteries—Creation, Original Sin, the Incarnation, the Immaculate Conception, Redemption, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, among other doctrines of the Faith, without needing any proofs or demonstrations.  The wonderful thing is that, if you are a baptized Catholic, you, too, have received this amazing Gift—the power to believe all that God has revealed through His Church, on the authority of God revealing.

Just as a child cannot will himself to be born of his parents but must receive the gift of life from God through them, in a similar way a man cannot will supernatural faith and life into existence for himself.  All that he can do is to ask for the gift of supernatural faith and life from God, knowing that our Heavenly Father will never refuse such a request from a humble and contrite heart.  A Christian acquires an unlimited trust in his Heavenly Abba by being “born again” as an adopted “son” of his Abba, through water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism, and by faithfully living a “new life” as a devoted child of his Abba, doing the perfect acts of love that God has prepared for him to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Baptism of St. Vladmir

The man who decides to become a Christian because the many motives of credibility—like Eucharistic miracles—make the obedience of faith “reasonable,” can easily forget (or never learn!) that his primary reason for believing in God and His Truth is CHARITY!  Just as the love of the human father draws forth from his son a natural response of love and trust in the father’s protection, so the supernatural Charity of the Father poured out on the soul in Holy Baptism draws forth from the soul by grace a supernatural response of faith, hope and charity.  The soul who has received the Gift of Faith and Sanctifying Grace readily believes everything that God has revealed in His Word and through the authoritative teaching of His Church.

If the soul should make the mistake of thinking that any doctrine of the Faith requires any corroboration beyond the authority of God revealing through His Word or through the authoritative teaching of His Church, that soul would place herself in the same condition as Eve when she began to entertain doubts sown in her mind by Satan concerning what God had revealed to her through her husband about the original order of the universe and the commandment not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Our Lord taught unequivocally: “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 18:3).  It is time for us who bear the name of Catholic and Christian to take those words to heart once again—especially in regard to the First Article of the Creed, the dogma of creation, the foundation of our Holy Catholic Faith.

Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,

Hugh Owen

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