Did the saints doubt?

This is something I’ve looked for in reading various lives of the saints: Did they ever doubt their mystical experiences? Did Noah spend years building the ark wondering if he was crazy? Did Jonah wonder if he had really been told to go to Nineveh? Did Joan of Arc question what she was hearing and experiencing?

When we read these stories, they all seem absolutely secure in their confidence it was God speaking to them yet I think most people today, if they heard a voice tell them to build an ark, would question their sanity.

I think it would be helpful to people today to know if these people were absolutely sure or if they questioned and if so, what drove them to listen to those inner promptings anyway. But I’ve been unable to find this information anywhere.

Thoughts?

I’m sure they did; they were still human after all. It’s just not recorded.

1 Like

Yes. Read St. Ignatius for an account of how this happens to a typical soul. Read St John of the Cross to read how it can happen in an even more intense way to someone who is more advanced in their friendship with God. (I mean that not every little up and down in our early spiritual lives is really what is meant by the dark night of the soul.)

1 Like

There is a difference between a doubt and a difficulty. The person with difficulties may be struggling, but he is struggling to understand more fully and completely. We come to understand more by facing the difficulties and learning.

1 Like

St mother Theresa doubted. And it is recorded quite extensively. Her dark night was long. Extremely long.

7 Likes

Yes, some saints really struggled with various aspects of their experiences and beliefs.

St Joseph knew beyond doubt to marry Mary and to take flight to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.
A distinct message from God would leave no doubt to the receiver.

Jonah just did not want to do God’s bidding and tried to run away from God.I do not think Noah questioned much but obediently got on with it.
Moses did not think he was up to the task of the Exodus and argued with God that he had a speech impediment and would be an ineffective speaker.

1 Like

Yes, the saints experienced tremendous doubt. That is part of what made them saints.

Jesus Christ - ironically, being God - experienced the worst doubt of all of them; it was a spiritual darkness like no other.

2 Likes

St. Thomas doubted the risen Lord.

2 Likes

St. Faustina was tricked by Satan into burning her entire diary. Her spiritual director made her reconstruct what she had written.

Even Jonah, whom you mention in your first post, repeatedly ran away before he finally went to Nineveh.

Seriously, if you read books on the great mystics, many of them went through very bad times of spiritual dryness, doubt etc. Some of them were misled by evil spirits for a time.
There’s also likely a lot of personal stuff going on in each of their heads that never made it into the written record.

As for why they listened to their promptings anyway, they generally were convinced or encouraged to carry on either by God himself via private revelation, or through a spiritual director such as a confessor who helped them.

3 Likes

Excellent example.

2 Likes

I mean Doubting Thomas and St. Peter are good examples

1 Like

It’s okay to wonder and ask questions.

1 Like

Even Christ asked why the Father abandoned him.

1 Like

Good Day Poet!
You have a good question! One of the best known example was actually in the Bible and that is St. Thomas! Doubting Thomas was not sure and had doubts when he saw Jesus. The only thing that made him realize that Jesus do rise from the dead is when he put his fingers to Jesus’ wounds. But Jesus didn’t get angry to Thomas because He knew that everyone doubts the power of God and He knew that Thomas like other people will not believe without seeing.

1 Like

There were certain experiences given to certain figures down through history through which God’s nature and will were revealed-for the ultimate good of us all. Their communications with God would’ve been all but impossible to doubt. Others, OTOH, even if touched deeply in one manner or another by Him, could still have room for doubt, depending on the particular experience(s) given, for one thing. But generally speaking, none of us possess 100% perfect faith in this life, with no possibility of doubt entering. And faith can always grow, meaning that today’s faith can be stronger than yesterday’s

1 Like

Most people think of St. Therese as this flowery, sugary saint with not a worry in the world. But that’s very far from the real Therese! Her final eighteen months on this earth would topple even the strongest of individuals. She was plagued with doubts.

2 Likes

Thank you to all for your answers. They’re very helpful.

Mark, thank you for this link, too. I knew quite a lot about St. Therese but I was not aware she’d had such doubts at the end of her life. This is very helpful.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.