Faith is surely a gift made to us by the Divine Grace. It is as it were a gate opening suddenly on the eternal truth, through which we can see, almost touch that truth.
Like all things in the human ascent, it is necessary, particularly at the beginning, to make a personal effort. It may happen that under certain exceptional circumstances, for reasons that wholly escape our intelligence, faith comes as an accident, quite unexpectedly, almost without our having ever asked for it, but more frequently it is an answer to a desire, a need, an aspiration, something in the being that seeks, wants, even if it is not very conscious or very systematic. In any case, when faith has been granted, when one has this sudden inner Illumination, to maintain it constantly in the active consciousness individual effort is absolutely indispensable. One must hold to one’s faith, ask for one’s faith, seek it, cultivate it, protect it.
The human mind has the morbid and deplorable habit of doubt, discussion and scepticism. It is there that human effort has to be exercised : one must refuse to admit them, refuse to listen to them, and more than that refuse to follow them. No game is more dangerous than to play mentally with doubt and scepticism. They are not merely enemies, they are frightful snares and once you fall into them you have a formidable difficulty in coming out of them.
Some people think that it is a great mental elegance to play with ideas, discuss them, contradict one’s faith, that it gives you a very superior attitude and that you are thus above all superstition and ignorance; but it is in listening to the suggestions of doubt and scepticism that one falls into the grossest ignorance and turns away from the straight path. You enter into confusion and error, into the meanderings of contradictions and you are not always sure of being able to come out. You stray so far away from the inner truth that you lose sight of it and at times you also lose all contact with your soul.
Certainly, there must be a personal effort to preserve one’s faith, to let it grow in oneself. Later on, much later, you can one day look behind and see that whatever has happened, even what appeared to be the worst was a divine Grace to make us progress on the path, and then you perceive that the personal effort also was a Grace; but before you reach there you need to walk much, struggle much, at time even to suffer much.
To sit down in an inert passivity and say : “If I must have faith, I shall have it, the Divine will give it to me”, is an attitude of laziness, of unconsciousness, almost of bad will.
For the inner flame to burn, one must feed it, one must watch over the fire, cast into it the fuel of all errors that one seeks to throw off, all that delays the advance, all that obscures the path. If you do not feed the fire, it smoulders under the ashes of your unconsciousness and your inertia; and then it is not years but centuries, and fives will pass before you arrive at your goal.
You must watch over your faith, as one watches over the cradle of an infinitely precious life, and you must protect it with great care from everything that might alter it.
In the ignorance and obscurity at the beginning, faith is the most direct expression of the divine Power that comes to battle and conquer.