In a recent blog entry at Glory to God for All Things, Father Stephen Freeman writes powerfully that “first off, everyday, before I have done anything else, I must believe in God. It is not something to be taken for granted, but something to be exercised.” We have recently been reading in Genesis about the Patriarch Abraham, whose greatest virtue was faith and trust in God. As St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Father Stephen explains a simple fact that is also quite apparent from the life of Abraham: this faith is not simply a verbal statement or an intellectual assent; rather, it is a faith that is so deeply a part of our being that it informs our every thought and action. As St. James points out in his epistle, Abraham’s faith was manifested not in his words, but in his actions. At God’s command, he left his homeland for a land of strangers. At God’s command, he was prepared to sacrifice his own son, in whom he had been promised as many descendants as the stars in the sky. This faith, Fr. Stephen points out, is both a gift of God which we cannot attain for ourselves and an ascetic effort which we must carefully retain and cultivate.