The US Bishops published Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us in 1999. In paragraphs 60 through 63 they examine Fruitful Faith. First, they remind us of the Pauline list of spiritual fruits, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Is the believer in the Spirit, or adrift from it?
Another approach to fruit is to consider how a believer or the community addresses the issues of charity and justice (61). Is faith fruitful enough when it produces a self-congratulatory interiority? Many would say–the bishops included–fruit must be on the exterior of a community. Adult Christians must show some evidence that faith has taken root.
Is a community growing? Does the believing Christian witness to others? These are other questions, probing for another fruit cited by the bishops in their document.: the fruit of evangelization (62).
A final wrap-up of faith, living, explicit, and fruitful:
Mature faith recognizes that, however great or modest our competence or accomplishments, God’s favor is always a gift and a grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).