50 years ago, my grandfather penned this for the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star describing what his Catholic faith meant to him. A great deal of this informs my own thoughts on faith and its duties, and so I share them here for your own consideration and thoughts. — SVK
A common definition of religion is that it is a code of ethics which shows the rules for living. This is a brief explanation of how it is that I see life and try to live it as a Roman Catholic.
I am. I am as the result of an act of love. I am because my parents performed the highest and most noble act performed by two individuals – an act of love. I am therefore, not by my own choice. I did not have the chance to say “no” to life. Life was then a gift to me. Now that I am; I am for eternity. I am as a man, homo sapiens, made up of body and soul, responsible for my own actions.
As a person matures he must decide certain items. Since life is in time, and time is a continuum, life moves like a flowing river. It would be a waste of time to decide an issue over and over again. I exist, My Creator exists, and the laws that govern my living exist.
The laws governing life are the natural and supernatural laws. The natural law teaches me that virtue is its own reward. According to Aristotle, Aquinas, and others, there are only three things in life on which an individual continually bases each momentary decision. These three things that motivate a person to act, to commit his will, are the true, the good, and the beautiful. As time passes and the individual choices becomes a person’s character, the person is said to be virtuous – full of virtue or vicious – full of vice. Character is the sum of all human acts of volition. It is the benchmark scribed on each individual’s tablet, measured by the yardstick of vice-virtue, measuring each choice as good or bad, true or false, beautiful or ugly.
There are seven yardsticks or scales that apply to all of life. The natural virtues are prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice. The supernatural virtues are faith, hope, and love. My religion tells me how I must live to be virtuous. All the truths of Roman Catholicism are stated in the Nicene Creed.
God created me in his image and likeness to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him in the next. Recall, if you will, the statement made previously that life is a gift. Statistically speaking, I am an impossibility. But for some unknown reason it was I that was given life to do with what I will. It is I placing these words before you and not one of the thousands of other brothers or sisters that could have been conceived at that particular moment. Yes, life was a gift to me – I cannot waste it.
At that particular moment in 1930 my earthly father brought me from the halls of eternity, my Heavenly Father gave me a soul and I was born in my mother’s pain. My past is history which I study to learn, my present is now where I act to earn, my future is life where I yearn for the grace of God to do his will.
Through the gift of faith I have an understanding of the rules of life. I hope I may live this last half of my life in the conformity with the will of God as I daily pray, “thy will be done.” I try to understand love – that bond of heaven that permeates all of life, for this is the one positive command of God. As I try to learn more about love I must apply the principles I know of it by doing my duty to God, my family, and my fellow man. I hope I shall die trying to succeed.
“There remain these three, faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
Arthur Street (my grandfather), born February 21, 1931, as written in the Free Lance-Star on March 24, 1967