An appeal for help to the truly Faithful


#1

The following is an appeal to those of strong Faith.

I’d like to precede this appeal by first stating that I go to Mass, at a minimum of every Sunday. Sometimes more. I, on occasion, recite the Rosary. I attempt to make time to go to a nearby church and pray during the day. I have read a number of books;
Story of a Soul, Imitation of Christ, most of C.S. Lewis, some of G.K. Chesterton, some of Scott Hahn, Confessions of St. Augustine, Bible, many more. I deeply want a strong Faith in Christ.

However; I am in a constant struggle with my Faith. We are bombared from all sides by artillary that contradicts our Faith.
For every apologetic argument that is in favor of Faith there is an intelligent counter argument to refute it. My intellectual integrity refuses to allow me to dismiss the many arguments that go counter to my belief in God and our Savior Jesus Christs divinity.

I am called to believe but:

How do I discern the difference between my belief and my desire to believe?

How do I know that as I grow in Faith, and in my prayer life, I am not simply progressing in my self-brainwashing or self-convincing what I want to believe is Truth?

When we use the canned answer, “it is a mystery”, to questions we cannot answer, how do I know it is not an intellectual cop-out?

How can I deny 1 Billion intelligent people (Muslims) who devoutly believe a totally different story?

I could go on an on…DaVinci Code, Atheism, Evolution etc etc etc. on and on and on…

I’m not looking for answers to these spefic questions. I’ve come to the realization that I will never be able to answer them definitively. I, for one, cannot look a devout Jew or a devout Muslim who has dedicated thier lifes to understanding thier respective Faiths in the eye and say, “I am right and you are wrong”. It holds no intellectual integrity to take that stand.

One must be honest enough with himself to admit it is one mans opinion against anothers and statistically speaking one must be correct and the other incorrect. I guess what I am looking for is an understanding of how one has struggled with these same thoughts and yet still maintains a deeply rooted belief that what they believe is in fact Truth. Even in the light of someone who believes otherwise and has studied more and who may be intellectually superior, or better informed.

I often wonder if I am among the non-elect. If Faith is Grace, God has decided to not share this Grace with me. Therefore I am cast into a life long battle of desiring Faith and doubting it every step of the way. I ask myself if I am just pig-headed and should resist my intellects intrusion on my belief. But this is simply not possible. I liken it to telling someone not think of the color red. You simply cannot do it.

These forums suggest (via the Threads) people of a powerful Faith. I desire to be amongst that group, yet struggle constantly.

Is there anyone out there who has fought this battle and “won”?


#2

Mijoy -

My faith is a simple faith, and yes, I too sometimes wonder. What helps most for me are the words of St. Paul. In one of his letters (not sure which one; I’m not much of a Biblical scholar) he suggests that faith based on absolute knowledge is not faith at all. That is to say, if one knows something with absolute certainty, that individual does not need faith because he “knows.” Our faith, Paul goes on to say, is based on hope in Jesus Christ.

A second help for me (that does not work for everone) is that for me it is more difficult to believe that human life (and all of creation, for that matter) is the result of a series of random accidents than to believe in a creator/God.

Finally, I believe that the very struggle to believe is itself evidence of belief, and that God, who knows all things, knows that we struggle because He created us as rational beings and gave us a free will. What a great God He is!!

I hope this helps a little.

Chuck


#3

Well, I’ll try to help as best I can:

How do I discern the difference between my belief and my desire to believe?

We should enter into any discernment with a desire to know the truth, not to simply affirm what we already know. Our desire to prove that the Catholic Church is right must be subordinate to our desire to know God.

How do I know that as I grow in Faith, and in my prayer life, I am not simply progressing in my self-brainwashing or self-convincing what I want to believe is Truth?

The Church encourages the use of reason and intellectual argument. Look for answers that give solid material.

When we use the canned answer, “it is a mystery”, to questions we cannot answer, how do I know it is not an intellectual cop-out?

In my experience, this is an intellectual cop-out. Though we can never fully understand things that are rightly defined as mysteries, we should seek to understand what we can about them.

How can I deny 1 Billion intelligent people (Muslims) who devoutly believe a totally different story?

The entire world used to believe that the world was flat. That didn’t make them right.


#4

Coming from a “Bible alone” background, I come at this from a slightly different direction than many Catholics. My saving grace sermon in a Nazarene Church was “Do you believe the Bible cover to cover including the cover? Do you believe God was able to keep His holy word accurate? If you don’t, we have nothing else to talk about!”

I do believe the Bible is God’s Holy Word keep safe and accurate. IF you believe that, then you can believe the promises held within it. God promises that the Church will be a pillar and foundation of Truth. Then, you can trust His Church to teach the truth.

If not, I do not have the words to convict you that the Bible is His Holy Word.

It all comes back to faith. Faith in Jesus Christ. If Christ was who He said He was, trust the Bible, trust the Church it was given to. If Christ was not who He said He was, run far, far away.

God Bless,
Maria


#5

Mijoy,

Many of your thoughts are mine as well. It seems that from the very beginning (when I was an evangelical Prot, before I became Catholic 12 years ago) I too have struggled and struggled with doubt after doubt. That’s not to say I have not had periods of pure, simple faith. I have…and they were wonderful!

But now, as with you, I suppose, I am in a period of extreme doubt. In fact, I have officially given up any definite belief in Christ or the Church. I still go to Mass (with my family), but beyond that I feel it would somehow be inconsistent to do more (pray, etc…though I admit, the occasional prayer slips out).

Strangely, I am very well educated in theology and, to a degree, philosophy. I have a masters in theology from the University of Dallas (a conservative Catholic school) and have read fairly widely.

I’m in the process right now of reading a book called, Why I am a Christian, a compendium of basic apologetics (admittedly, largely written by protestants, with the acception of two catholics, Peter Kreeft and J. Budsiczewski). The strange thing is that while I come away largely convinced (we can know, there is a God, this God matches the God of the Bible/Christianity, the NT is historically reliable, Jesus claims he is God, thus he is either liar, lunatic or Lord, etc.), I still somehow remain largely unconvinced.

I have begun to think that my own doubts, while intellectually substantial, have very little in reality to do with matters intellectual. Thus, I have tried to uncover all the “irrational” reasons (desires, passions, senses, pains, hurts from the past, etc.) for not believing. I won’t go into them, as they would be too personal, but suffice to say they are many.

So, as of today, I am faced with this question: am I willing to submit? Am I willing to believe?

Part of me cries out and says, “That’s unfair! Of course I am! Please God!” and so forth.

But I don’t know.

I am reminded of a biography of Charles Foucault I read a few years ago. The moment of his conversion was the crucial moment in the book and in his life. Here’s how it happened: Being a wealthy frenchman, he lived the life of a playboy soldier and had great disdain for the faith. Eventually, armed with questions, he went to a Church in Paris to speak with a priest. When he met the priest, he said, Father, I’ve got all kinds of questions that you can’t possibly answer. The priest said, Fine. But first, step into the confessional. Charles did so and as his sins fell away, so too did his questions.

I relay this story because I believe it is somehow my problem. And without knowing you, I wonder if it might be yours too? Is it really our doubts that keep us away? (By the way, I know you and I share the same revulsion for the doctrine of an eternal hell.)

The question becomes: how can we personally encounter the living Christ? And while I know the answer (confession, the eucharist, adoration, prayer, etc.), I feel I have not been able to in my lifetime for any sustained duration.


#6

Mijoy2,

Try praying the rosary daily, I have found this to be a great help in strengthening my relationship with God. Depend on the basic things that you are sure of, and pray that God will show you the rest. Before you begin praying the rosary, give these concerns to God, ask him for his help. Each time you pray state your intentions before.

Be patient as you research, and keep an open mind. You might go back and forth between opinions quite often. Continue to learn and experience God. You will get there.

Remember, this is not about intellect as much as it is about listening to God. These forums could also help with some of the specifics that you are dealing with. This is a wonderful tool for God to speak to you through.


#7

I wouldn’t describe myself as someone with a powerful faith. I think it is more accurate to say I have a *confident * faith. I look at the scriptures and history and the universe and see the mighty works that God has worked in the lives of his people. I take God at his word that what he says he will do, he will do, both in my life and in his Kingdom, the Church. One of the things he has promised is that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church, and I believe him.

Do I have doubts or am I puzzled, dismayed, annoyed, frustrated, or non-comprehending on some of the things that the Church teaches or says or does? You bet. But am I wiser than the 2000 year old Church? Am I in a position to create my own Christian doctrine or disciplines superior to the Church God has formed and sustains by his very own Spirit? I have at least enough humility to answer in the negative. Am I sometimes disappointed and sad over my own inability to live at the level of holiness that I feel my God expects me to be? Certainly. But I also trust that God can do a great work in me; that he has patience with his stumbling child and is ready to give me the grace I need to be more and more conformed to his image.


#8

[quote=Mijoy2]We are bombared from all sides by artillary that contradicts our Faith.
[/quote]

When you encounter one of these artillary rounds, you have to ask yourself who’s firing them

[quote=Mijoy2]For every apologetic argument that is in favor of Faith there is an intelligent counter argument to refute it. My intellectual integrity refuses to allow me to dismiss the many arguments that go counter to my belief in God and our Savior Jesus Christs divinity.
[/quote]

That’s why they call it “Faith.” Many times our intellects can’t grasp an article of faith. That’s where humility comes in. “Is my intellectual integrity greater than the mystery of God?”

[quote=Mijoy2]How do I discern the difference between my belief and my desire to believe?
How do I know that as I grow in Faith, and in my prayer life, I am not simply progressing in my self-brainwashing or self-convincing what I want to believe is Truth?
[/quote]

Try a mind game. Assume that you believe in the argument against your beilief, then refute it.
This one could be dangerous, but monitor your emotions as you asume the roll opposite the truth you actually hold.

[quote=Mijoy2]When we use the canned answer, “it is a mystery”, to questions we cannot answer, how do I know it is not an intellectual cop-out?
[/quote]

Here, I disagree with Dr. Colossus, sort of. He says we should learn all that we are capable of learning about God. I agree. But to admit that God is a mystery we will never plumb and that there are some things we will never understand about him is not a cop out.

[quote=Mijoy2]How can I deny 1 Billion intelligent people (Muslims) who devoutly believe a totally different story?
[/quote]

How can you deny the living one billion intelligent Catholics and all those who have believed - and died for that belief - for 2000 years?

[quote=Mijoy2]I could go on an on…DaVinci Code, Atheism, Evolution etc etc etc. on and on and on…
[/quote]

The DaVinci Code is heresy, atheism is untenable and, though the Church says you can believe creationism, there is nothing in directed evolution that contradicts Catholic dogma.

[quote=Mijoy2]I, for one, cannot look a devout Jew or a devout Muslim who has dedicated thier lifes to understanding thier respective Faiths in the eye and say, “I am right and you are wrong”. It holds no intellectual integrity to take that stand.
[/quote]

I can. It’s a great chance to evangelize, which we are directed to do. I would not insult the person, but I would inform him, to the best of my ability, of the Truth if the Catholic Church.

[quote=Mijoy2]I often wonder if I am among the non-elect. If Faith is Grace, God has decided to not share this Grace with me. Therefore I am cast into a life long battle of desiring Faith and doubting it every step of the way.
[/quote]

Nope. Christ redeemed EVERYONE.

I’ll tell you of someone who struggled with dryness and doubt all her life and won – BIG TIME.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Thats right, Mother Teresa had a dry prayer life, no joy, no sense of the love of God, most of her life. Read something by her.
Lastly, my friend, simply will it. I have doubts, everyone does. When they seem to be getting the best of me, I KNOW the truth and I will myself to believe it.


#9

Heartfelt and caring replies, every one of them. Thank you.

FelixBlue, yes we share the same issues with the doctrine of Hell. It also appears we share other concerns as well.

Having stated my doubts in my original post I’d like to turn the tide somewhat by sharing what seems to keep my hope alive.

As someone here said, If we were certain of God existance we wouldn’t need Faith. I question nearly everything. However, what gives me hope is the conclusive truth I have discovered since coming back to a greater level of Faith, or a greater effort towards a greater level of Faith. That Truth is the undeniable fact that anything temporal is of little or no significance. If life is to cease to exist life is also without meaning. If life is eternal then it is crystal clear to me that we are to pursue a measure of infinite love of one another to make this eternal life a paradise. To fulfill this measure of infinite love we can, first, only achieve it with the assistance of something / someone greater then our own abilities. We must release our pride and become truly humble. I find Truth in the Gospels.

One example (of many) is the doctrine of the Sacrement of Marriage. Prior to coming back to Faith I was incapable of ever understanding the logic of marriage being indisolveable. I felt, as many people do; if it is not good then it’s time to move on and find happiness elsewhere. Having contimplated it a tremendous amount and putting into practice the idea of this indisolveability, I now understand without reservation. Marriage can only work (for the most part)if in fact it is approached as indisovable. I suppose what I am saying is that it was either some brilliant minds that composed the Gospels or they are in fact divine.

I believe in the Gospel and all it teaches. It wasn’t easy to come to this belief, but with effort (and prayer) I can much more easily see the Truth in it. However, of course, it is only Truth, if life is eternal. Otherwise it is simply balony. I fall back on this concept in my darkest moments.

FelixBlue, hang in there. I suspect we both will hang in there. And for what it may be worth, I’ll say a prayer for the strengthening of the Faith for us both.


#10

Mijoy2,

I also was brought back to my Catholic Faith because of the indisolveability of marriage. I was looking for an escape from marriage and saw an article in the newspaper about The Pope reminding Catholics of the permanence of marriage. It hit me like a brick! I knew the Church was right all along.

Also, the Church stand on abortion is very compelling in a world of compromise.


#11

Thanks. The points you make are worthwhile. Specifically, pray that I will have the will to do what I believe (intellectually) is true.


#12

[quote=FelixBlue]Thanks. The points you make are worthwhile. Specifically, pray that I will have the will to do what I believe (intellectually) is true.
[/quote]

Hi FelixBlue,
Matthew 5:3-11
In a nut shell, blessed are the poor,those who mourn, meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers,those who are persecuted, those who are reviled for Christ’s sake.
God in His wisdom made obtaining His salvation very easy, especially for those above. The deaf, blind, etc can all “believe” This is something that does not require a station in life or intellectual ability, money or an ability to work your way there. Only belief or faith works. Of course faith produces fruit or works.
Now if you cast your self out into the cold without support, I am sure you would find God in Christ so much more quickly.
Your disbelief is really an intelluctual stand against those who believe. Your strength is your weakness. How difficult it is to let go of that which YOU believe in and start believing in something you can quite grasp. That lesser intelluctual people believe is of no comfort. You have a solo journey.
I really loved the movie , A beautiful Mind. His journey from arrogrance to humility was a moving story. Me, I have been arrogrant in my strengths as well. Luckily for me my strengths have evaporated and they now sit on a small sometimes visited prideful memory.
We who believe are not weak. Let me tell you that in tribulation I have faced my toughest physical moments. And more is to come.
Christ be with you http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon7.gif
walk in love
edwinG


#13

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