I have days of great faith and piety, and then I find myself lapsing into great unbelief, and I suspect that I am actually rather silly to have ever believed.
Why do we believe? Is it just because everybody else believed - the saints and martys etcetera? If so, lots of people believe lots of other things (e.g. Muslims have their own faith, but we consider them to be wrong).
I mean: why actually do we believe? Because I don’t think that I can believe simply because the Church Father believed and wrote lovely letters about the Real Presence… that to me seems a blind faith. And if we say the Scriptures, well, there are lots of Scriptures, most of them which actually contradict what we believe (e.g, Gospel of Judas, Philip… etcetera…convenient that we have four and miss out the rest>)
Also, can God grant us the grace of faith if we are in mortal sin?
Anyway, if you comment would you also say a brief prayer that God would grant me faith - as in unshakeable faith… real, proper, full throtle faith, and not the occasional three-day a week faith.
Ah, I can tell you’re not a convert. The best part about converting to the Catholic Faith is that you have great clarity into exactly why you did so - and I’m not including people who convert for reasons other than firm conviction, such as those who convert to make marriage less complicated - it’s good that they convert (we’ll take all the converts we can get) but they won’t have this absolute clarity (although it may come to them once they are in a Catholic environment).
When I converted, my sponsor gave me a gift - a book of Catholic conversion stories written by the various converts. The thing that impressed me was the incredible variety of reasons that people convert. I converted because I studied Church history, and became convinced that the One True Church Established by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago is the same Church as the Catholic Church today. But only one of those conversion stories in that book was centered around Church history (and that particular woman did not approach history the same way that I did).
I cannot tell you why “we” believe - but I can tell you why “I” believe, and that’s all anybody can do. Converts are drawn to the Church in many reasons, and cradle Catholics remain in the Church for many reasons - but there’s a tremendous variety of reasons - because the Catholic Church has a LOT to offer.
But it’s OK to have questions and doubts (else there would be no Catholic Answers Forum). Tell us a little about yourself and we maybe able to help more specifically. What is THE MAIN THING that you have doubts about? Maybe we can talk about that first.
Thanks for this reply. I am a convert as it happens, and I suppose I converted because… well perhaps that doesn’t matter.
The main thing that I have doubts about is that… well I don’t feel God present in my life. I do a lot of Catholic stuff: I serve Mass, I go to Adoration, I pray the Rosary and do the Latin Mass… I’m really stuck into the whole thing, but I still feel like God is just somehow absent.
It’s not even really that I don’t believe… I pretty much do believe, but I look around and I just don’t find myself sensible of God. I pray and I sort of think… “is anybody even listening?”
I prayed a lot for something recently, and God answered my prayers, and then after I found myself thinking “was that really God, or was that going to happen anyway…”
To be honest I just want a great big bloody sign to fall out of the sky saying “believe” or something, but I know that Jesus condemned a perverse generation for wanting a sign, and I know that the Resurrection should be enough…
A lot of Catholics can talk the talk, and they have lovely explanations about One Holy Catholic and Apostolic and they Capitalise their Words and make everything sound so grand, but that’s not faith, and I am fed up of people dressing up faith to sound so pretty… even St Paul condemned preaching the Gospel with “eloquent wisdom.”
I don’t know; I’m probably rambling now. Apologies.
I found myself to be strengthened in my faith once I came across people who had completely opposite views from me. As I am not a convert, I was told that this is the right way and just accepted that but it was only after people questioned me did I start to think that I needed to do some research.
I think a bit of digging in may help you in your situation, you could come across particular things that interest you or that you hadn’t heard about before, I think this is the time to reach deeper in your faith because you could just feel restless, like it isn’t doing enough for you.
Ah, that. You may be experiencing a phenomena known as “the Dark Night of the Soul” which was described in detail by St. John of the Cross (a Doctor of the Church). This usually happens at a very advanced stage of spirituality - but there is no reason why it could not happen sooner. FWIW, Mother Teresa experienced this for many years - many Saints of the Church have undergone this trial.
You may benefit from studying the writings of Carmelite Saints such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (both of whom are Doctors of the Church).
And you may be overreaching. I knew a guy who was formerly Episcopal and had contemplated a career as an Episcopal minister. But he converted to the Catholic Church. Soon thereafter he approached the Vocation Director of his Diocese and inquired about becoming a Catholic priest. The director wisely told him, “we want you to breathe Catholic air for a few years before you commit to this path.” As a convert, you are doing many things - maybe it is too much. Maybe you need to “breathe Catholic air” before assuming such an intense ministry.
A lot of Catholics can talk the talk, and they have lovely explanations about One Holy Catholic and Apostolic and they Capitalise their Words and make everything sound so grand, but that’s not faith
You’re right - that’s not faith. But Faith (notice the capital letter?) is the reason that we do these things. These behaviors are an effect - not a cause.
even St Paul condemned preaching the Gospel with “eloquent wisdom.”
You refer to 1Cor 1:17. Many translations prefer “human” or “worldly” wisdom over “elloquent.” Yet, 1Cor 1:19 establishes this where this wisdom is clearly seen in a human context.
We long for God because we come from Him: we are created by Him and for Him. Many of us try to fill this hole with material things, power and money. This is true idolatry.
The history of humanity is always consistent with a reaching out to the “other” from our finite humanity. All cultures and all times have a real sense of the transcendent which is communicated in myriad different ways. Man searches for God, and this search is expressed in all the religions of the world. God responds to this search and this response is recorded in salvation history…Thus God is revealed, most clearly in His Son. A real historical person who came to show God to us.
Many men of science also reason to God without the benefit of an understanding of this salvation history.
The world: starting from movement, becoming, contingency, and the world’s order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe.
As St. Paul says of the Gentiles: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
And St. Augustine issues this challenge: Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky. . . question all these realities. All respond: “See, we are beautiful.” Their beauty is a profession [confessio]. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One [Pulcher] who is not subject to change?
The formation of the Canon is a miracle in itself. How did the books therein end up there? There’s not one day the decision was made, the Canon was not agreed in one sitting, it sort of coalesced. There is great benefit to be gained from reading some of the non-canonical books (especially, for example, the Didache), as long as one understand their socio-historical context.
Sin creates a gulf between us and God. When we are in a state of sin we find it harder to have faith, to hear God. That’s why we need to go to confession and make ourselves right with Him as soon as possible; to avoid getting into more difficulty. We always seek God, long for God and we hurt when we are apart from Him.
Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.
I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
And call on you as my loving protector.
Guide me by your wisdom,
Correct me with your justice,
Comfort me with your mercy,
Protect me with your power.
I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.
I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.
Lord, enlighten my understanding,
Strengthen my will,
Purify my heart,
and make me holy.
Help me to repent of my past sins
And to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses
And to grow stronger as a Christian.
Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
And see myself as I really am:
A pilgrim in this world,
A Christian called to respect and love
All whose lives I touch,
Those under my authority,
My friends and my enemies.
Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
Greed by generosity,
Apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself
And reach out toward others.
Make me prudent in planning,
Courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.
Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
Temperate in food and drink,
Diligent in my work,
Firm in my good intentions.
Let my conscience be clear,
My conduct without fault,
My speech blameless,
My life well-ordered.
Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me,
Keep your law,
And come at last to your salvation.
Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
That my true future is the happiness of heaven,
That life on earth is short,
And the life to come eternal.
Help me to prepare for death
With a proper fear of judgment,
But a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death
To the endless joy of heaven.
I might just add that there’s nothing wrong or un-healthy about doubt, or questions. These are things that lead us closer to God. Doubt/ faith is essential in order to protect free-will. Without our own choice, all the belief in the world wouldn’t mean anything. It would stop being faith, in fact, and become knowledge.