Discernment & doubting faith


#1

Hi,

I'm currently discerning taking the path to becoming a Catholic priest. Recently I have begun to pray more and read more about my faith. Basically I have been reading up on science and the faith and I feel like the more into my discernment I get the harder it is to believe anything.
I'm actually conscious that this is what's happening. At the moment though it seems like everything is doubtful - Did Jesus die for our sins? Is the Catholic Church a big fraud? Is God even real - and if he is why does he care?

Can somebody help me out with this?

Please


#2

It's called temptation. Rest assured, Our lady intercedes. Just Pray The Rosary


#3

[quote="AdamPeter, post:1, topic:286050"]
Hi,

I'm currently discerning taking the path to becoming a Catholic priest. Recently I have begun to pray more and read more about my faith. Basically I have been reading up on science and the faith and I feel like the more into my discernment I get the harder it is to believe anything.
I'm actually conscious that this is what's happening. At the moment though it seems like everything is doubtful - Did Jesus die for our sins? Is the Catholic Church a big fraud? Is God even real - and if he is why does he care?

Can somebody help me out with this?

Please

[/quote]

totally, know what you mean been going through similar things recently you have to read up on these things from a Catholic perspective:) imho.


#4

Do you have a good Spiritual Director? While exploring you may find it helpful to have wise and holy guidance.


#5

I do have a very experienced and orthodox spiritual director. I guess have always been intellectually curious and now I'm finding doubt in things I always believed. I do my best with prayer and pray the divine office twice a day.

I just find myself looking at stuff like quantum theory and the findings of atheist scientists and wondering about death and the possibility of this being all there is.

Stuff like that...


#6

Is this a normal part of discerning?

I just find it unnerving that my faith is wavering at a time when my prayer life is really good.


#7

[quote="AdamPeter, post:6, topic:286050"]
Is this a normal part of discerning?

I just find it unnerving that my faith is wavering at a time when my prayer life is really good.

[/quote]

What better person for Satan to attack than one discerning the priesthood? Satan does not want us to follow God's will and will try and pull us from it. You know what he is using to draw you away, do not let him: strike those things out of your life. Go to Mass as regularly as possible, and Confession as well. As others have suggested, flee to the protection of Our Lady, she does not fail us!


#8

Dear Adam,

I have felt this way at times as well especially when I was studying theology. I think the reason this sometimes happens is that we realize how insufficient any proofs, descriptions, treatises, arguments, and information is to describe who God is. When you are searching intellectually for God you will find much richness but, if you have experienced Him, any language to describe him will be thoroughly lacking. None of it can adequately verbalize the dynamic, powerful, and loving action of God in the world and in relation to us as individuals.

Meanwhile, in the sciences, our language is quite sufficient and helpful to understanding the way the world around us functions. The gap between what we know and how we express it is much smaller in science than it is in our study of God. There are lots of things we don't know in science but we don't usually try to explain them until we have some evidence or theory that is at least minimally believable. With God, we are just grasping at a very limited understanding of Him and a limitless experience of Him.

The important thing is to not deny your thoughts or try to repress them when you have doubts. Don't ignore them in the hope that they will go away. Offer them to God as further proof of His goodness and incomprehensibility. Use them as incentive to one day understand all when you appear before God in Heaven. Pray, but don't overspiritualize your doubts... they are intellectual doubts, you don't need to make them into anything more than that.

I hope this was helpful. God is greater than we can imagine and understand in this life. It's part of the mystery!

Prayers,
SM


#9

[quote="AdamPeter, post:1, topic:286050"]
Hi,

I'm currently discerning taking the path to becoming a Catholic priest. Recently I have begun to pray more and read more about my faith. Basically I have been reading up on science and the faith and I feel like the more into my discernment I get the harder it is to believe anything.
I'm actually conscious that this is what's happening. At the moment though it seems like everything is doubtful - Did Jesus die for our sins? Is the Catholic Church a big fraud? Is God even real - and if he is why does he care?

Can somebody help me out with this?

Please

[/quote]

Same thing happened to me when I got to the university and first started discerning. My issue was less with science than with the godless logicians and philosophers, but an intellectual difficulty nonetheless. I've found that this was just another temptations, albeit a strong one. Someone else posted that Satan is trying to dissuade you from the priesthood - this is definitely true. He wants nothing more than for young men to flee from the Faith and their vocation.

Another thing to consider, which I find to be true from my own experience, is that at some point we have to move past intellectual proofs of God and seek His Presence. I was able to do this through a pilgrimage to His own land, but everyone's paths differ. As important as the systematic study of Truth is - in all its forms (science, philosophy, etc.) - we have to experience Christ, to fall in love with His person and not the intellectual abstraction of Him. Pray, my brother! Frequent the sacraments! The Eucharist is so necessary for priestly discernment, as is devotion to the Blessed Mother. I suggest you also read the saints and mystics - their burning, passionate, limitless love of Christ is what every discerner should focus on, I think. This has been my own discernment path, moving from intellectual difficulties to a deeper understanding of Christ as a person. Once we realize that the Incarnation and Resurrection are real historical events, all reality comes into focus around these two events - and all our intellectual difficulties will fade away, because all truth is at service of the overwhelming truth that Christ is alive and working in the world, that He has chosen me to serve Him and that He loves me more than anything in the world.

I hope this helps; you are in my prayers. And remember His words: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Once we make Him the center of it all, and we strive to seek Him out as a person, all our difficulties begin to come into focus around the utter reality of Him.


#10

Thanks everyone,

This has helped a good deal. I have been a catholic all my life and always a regular mass goer. My personal experience with Christ was one which was absolutely life changing and I am so grateful for it. I guess it was since that point that I began to seriously consider priesthood and before that I never had serious doubts about faith.
I guess that Satan most likely has something to do with this.
I would not normally have ever had doubts like this.

Thanks for the prayers & I will continue to pray and attend mass & confession and not give up.

God Bless


#11

[quote="AdamPeter, post:6, topic:286050"]
Is this a normal part of discerning?

I just find it unnerving that my faith is wavering at a time when my prayer life is really good.

[/quote]

From what I've heard from people, it is not totally unknown.

I'm not sure of this, but the reasoning I would assume is that studying philosophy and theology starts to get you down to the fundamentals of the faith. The problem comes if you come across something that you did not know or something you cannot reconcile with something you already assumed was a fundamental.

I'll give an example (just putting forth an example to illustrate without commenting on it's theological validity). Some theology/biblical scholars (including a good professor I know in Science and Religion) have looked at the account of the Flood in Genesis and postulate that it is more of a story to be read in the spiritual sense instead of the literal sense (ie, that there was no flood, or that there was no literal world-wide flood. I'll point out that the Flood does follow a chiastic literary structure).
Now if someone had founded their belief in a 100% literal Bible (sola scriptura maybe), that might shake their belief in Christianity because they don't have the right foundation. It may also be the case that they feel betrayed because they feel that they were told a lie and begin to doubt everything else they've been told (I have heard of that one happening actually) because they based their faith on a particular preacher's interpretation.

The most important part you can always look at is your relationship with Christ; that is always real. The next steps to take are to put your trust in Christ and His Church that they know what they're doing. We can take things on faith if need be, and you can tell yourself that you will keep trying to understand. The first time I read through the Pauline Epistles, I kept wondering how we were reconciling justification by faith and works with what I was reading. In the end it turned out that the doctrine was just fine, but my understand at the time not completely accurate. Our understandings can be flawed, but that just means we need to keep learning.

Trust in Christ, and trust in the Church, and you can't go wrong.


#12

Thanks

:thumbsup:

"You are Peter! - and upon this rock I shall build my Church.
And the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it!"

:highprayer:


#13

[quote="AdamPeter, post:1, topic:286050"]
Hi,

I'm currently discerning taking the path to becoming a Catholic priest. Recently I have begun to pray more and read more about my faith. Basically I have been reading up on science and the faith and I feel like the more into my discernment I get the harder it is to believe anything.
I'm actually conscious that this is what's happening. At the moment though it seems like everything is doubtful - Did Jesus die for our sins? Is the Catholic Church a big fraud? Is God even real - and if he is why does he care?

Can somebody help me out with this?

Please

[/quote]

One of the things I've most loved about the Catholic Church since converting is how readily it engages with the worlds of philosophy, science, etc. Heck, it was a priest who invented the Scientific Method and a Franciscan friar who formulated it, if I'm not mistaken. The Christian community in which I was raised would have stuck its head in the sand if confronted by intellectuals outside their tradition. The Catholic Church meets challenges head on--after all, the Church is largely responsible for molding and developing Western Civilization, including much of its intellectual heritage. In more ways than one, Science is dependent on Faith.

Also remember Cardinal Newman's statement: "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." You may simply have to work through some things. Many Christians and saints have done this before--so take heart!


#14

I'm glad I'm not the only one. About a year ago I had these doubts, and they still linger into today; however, they are not as strong as they once were. My vocations director told me that this is a thing that only certain people go through in the discernment process. He told me that God was moving me further into the faith and drawing me closer to Him by doing this. He said it's a very powerful thing, and not too many people go through it. You'll see that sometimes your doubts are not as strong as other times. I know that's true for me. Going to confession regularly and going to adoration really helps.


#15

Thanks CatholicZ09,

I have had the experience of having various ups & downs of doubt...I'm going to confession & mass regularly.

One curious thing though...I find that the situations that challenge my faith seem to happen more & more often.

Like I had this totally random debate with a group of Muslims about the Holy Trinity in Dublin city the other day. And the same day an atheist friend challenged me on the topic of chastity...(I had put a link to chastity.com on facebook)

Sometimes these encounters strengthen my faith...sometimes not...I'm still praying though.

I'll keep you in my prayers...God Bless...

:)


#16

Hello everyone,

First, I want to ensure all of you that you are in my prayers. :gopray2:

I too have been experiencing doubts similar to these. I firmly believe the devil is behind it. However, after reading this conversation, I can truthfully say that I have been reassured.

So far in my discernment process, there have been many ups and downs. The high point of my process has probably already been reached, and I think I should consider a spiritual director (I am 15 1/2 years old).

I honestly felt while reading this though, the power of God throughout the world. Even though technological advances have resulted in much "badness," I believe the same amount of good can be achieved through it (just like we are doing right now with CFA - spreading the Good News).

Thank you very much for all of the responses. They are making my vocation in life much clearer now. Please keep me in your thorough prayers.

Sincerely,

P


#17

[quote="pgnat1, post:16, topic:286050"]
Hello everyone,

First, I want to ensure all of you that you are in my prayers. :gopray2:

I too have been experiencing doubts similar to these. I firmly believe the devil is behind it. However, after reading this conversation, I can truthfully say that I have been reassured.

So far in my discernment process, there have been many ups and downs. The high point of my process has probably already been reached, and I think I should consider a spiritual director (I am 15 1/2 years old).

I honestly felt while reading this though, the power of God throughout the world. Even though technological advances have resulted in much "badness," I believe the same amount of good can be achieved through it (just like we are doing right now with CFA - spreading the Good News).

Thank you very much for all of the responses. They are making my vocation in life much clearer now. Please keep me in your thorough prayers.

Sincerely,

P

[/quote]

You will be in my prayers as well. Thanks for replying.

It's really encouraging to be on here and see how many young people are open to God's call in their lives.
:thumbsup:

Best of luck with your discernment. :)


#18

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