Faith & Belief

One without the other?

So combining some ideas accumulated over the last year from here, apologies for not keeping track of sources, I arrive at this point. If I believe what I need to honestly pray this:
“God grant me to be… Silent before, that I may hear you; at rest in you—that you may work in me; open to you—that you may enter; empty before you—that you may fill me; Let me be still, and know you are my God.”
Then in theory the rest can come with time. <“Belief” is not essential. What is essential is “trust/faith”, which is not necessarily accompanied by intellectual agreement. Trust/Faith is a heart matter.>

I’m not deliberately resisting believing, and there are a lot of good reasons that I should and that I want to, but belief cannot be forced. I either need to hear it in a way that resonates, or I need to find a way that it is rational to me, or something. I cannot just decide that I will believe X. Granting that you can’t trust feelings exclusively to make decisions, it is a lot easier to believe something when it ‘feels’ true.So I just keep listening and seeking the light.

There isn’t really a question here, I guess that I am just trying to get more comfortable discussing faith, which because it is so personal to me, tends to be very difficult. If I am with my strongly believing friends, it is both hard for them to understand my position of questionning, and I have a hard time expressing myself fully while being careful to not create any seed of doubt in them. Discussing it with other questionning friends can help refine the questions, but doesn’t often resolve with answers. I suppose that I can be reassured that discussing it with atheist friends doesn’t shake the faith that I do have.

This might help. In Catholic teaching, faith is to believe in or give intellectual assent to certain facts or knowledge. It is not about placing ones trust in God-it’s simply about believing such things as God existence, the resurrection, etc. Hope is the virtue, in Catholic thought, whereby man places his trust or confidence in the promises of God.

I think that belief is a gift from God which is given according to God’s plan for our salvation. God may have a reason why you are not yet able to believe even though you would like to. It’s not something you can force but you can be open to recieving it. You could simply pray for the gift and give your assent to waiting on God’s timetable. God will not refuse to answer such a prayer but He may have a reason to make you wait awhile. Have patience and trust and an open heart.

You can hear the same thing a hundred times and it doesn’t resonate. Then, on the hundred and first time…Bingo! A light switch gets turned on. There is that “Aha!” moment that is so exquisite. It’s different for everyone.
Reading the Bible, perhaps you have experienced that same sense of enlightenment on a certain passage. Try and think back to when you learned to tie your shoes. You knew it was possible, but …How the strings just wouldn’t do anything that you wanted, and the frustration of trying over and over. Then, one day, it all fell into place and you were able to make the connections and get the job done!
Pray for the grace to believe. Early on, I went to Eucharistic Adoration at least once a week on the advice of someone I admired. I didn’t exactly believe that it would help, either. Hang in there. :gopray2:

Thank you for the kind replies. I like the shoelace analogy, that applies to so many things that we are trying to learn that seem so difficult at the time.

Oddly enough faith I have, it is belief that I struggle with. I can believe that there is a divine power, for that both resonates and I have experienced enough of what I choose to attribute to that power to strongly counteract any moments of doubt that may come along. I have faith that where I seem to be being led is meaningful, it just seems that I’m being led somewhere that I struggle greatly with the intellectual acceptance of much of it.

Being here probably gives away the fact that no matter which way I turn all road signs seem to be pointing to Catholic. In all fairness I haven’t encountered any religious belief that I can intellectually accept easily, and as for what I’ve encountered of the Christian ones, I grant that Catholicism has the greatest depth in teaching and tradition. At its roots it feels close to being right, but then there are some pretty major belief hurdles for me.

A bit of background, I was baptized as an infant in the United Church and went to a United Church until my early teens, when for community reasons, my mother started taking me to a Baptist Church - which we left when the minister started bringing in more segregationist and hateful attitudes. Still believed in God, although in an undefined way, but didn’t really attend church for 15 years until I became good friends with a faithful and devout Catholic, with whom I have been fairly regularly attending mass for the past year. Since then I have found out that many of my acquaintances that I respect most are Catholic, which considering that up until a year and a half ago I had only ever knowingly met 2 Catholics seems odd timing. Who knows, maybe it’s like when you buy a car, suddenly everybody is driving that car.

But it seems that my biggest belief impasses are fairly fundamental to the Christian faith. I struggle massively with figuring out the most critical to Christians part of the Trinity. I have no difficulty in believing in God, Holy Spirit, completely makes sense, but Jesus? I can intellectually understand the story, but I can’t seem to believe it. At best I can accept it as symbology, but that doesn’t quite cut it for truly understanding and believing from a Catholic stance. I don’t know whether it is a fear of commitment issue, some unresolved discomfort from the spell with the uncharitable minister, an unwillingness on my part to yield, or whether it is just not time for me to be there yet.

So thanks for giving me some room to push myself a little. Even if I am to be patient and remain open, it is probably good for me to occassionally nudge myself a little out of my comfort zone.

[SIGN][/SIGN] Hi FaighDoSolas, Welcome to C. Forum.

I am a bit confused with the Baptist bit and the symbology expression.

There is absolutely no difference between Baptist and Catholic understanding of who Jesus Christ really is. - Could you please explain how you meant these two concepts to be harmonised and where we may help.

:stuck_out_tongue:

Jesus brings God to us in a direct, immediate way. He’s here-God with us-and we have to do something with Him. And the world did do something with Him-it crucified Him-and this act stands as a commentary on human nature and where our true values really lie-as opposed to where they should lie.

To know Jesus is to know the Father-and we’d be hard-pressed to know God very well without this direct revelation-which includes the revelation of a heart of humble servant hood and the unconditional love of One who would suffer and lay down His life for His children to prove that love in no uncertain terms if that’s what it took, even though He deserved nothing less than our awe and love and praise. And the resurrection proved not only His power over death but also the authenticity of His offer of eternal life for all.

For myself, I wouldn’t know much about God if not for Jesus.

Sorry SunshineZA, I didn’t mean to imply there was a difference between Baptist and Catholic beliefs about Jesus, I was more trying to state that it would be pretty hard to be Catholic and not believe in Jesus.

As to the symbology concept, I’ll try to explain what I mean, but as it is one of those vague half-formed ideas, I doubt of my success. As I seem to struggle with belief in the idea of believing in a human deity dying and coming back to life, I continue to roll ideas around in my head to try to further understand my thoughts and why such an occurance would be deemed necessary by God. One concept that floated to the surface was God trying to teach us how to connect with him. The story of Jesus teaching us to listen, submit and experience divinity.

To a degree I am one of those people who wants to know everything before making a decision, and since one short lifetime is hardly enough to make a complete study of theology, and even understanding every thought ever had about God still won’t lead to understanding God, I may need to alter my approach on these matters.

fhansen-the third time I read your post, I saw deeper meaning in it than my first reading. I shall take that as a lesson to myself to let go of my pride in assuming that I know what someone is saying and thus allowing myself to only half listen.

I think that you have expressed very well a spritual, contemplative form of prayer and seeking after God.
While in my journey I arrived at a slightly different way of expressing the interaction of belief/faith/trust, I think it is largely a matter of how one defines the terms - in other words, more a difference of symantics than substance…

I’m not deliberately resisting believing, and there are a lot of good reasons that I should and that I want to, but belief cannot be forced. I either need to hear it in a way that resonates, or I need to find a way that it is rational to me, or something. I cannot just decide that I will believe X. Granting that you can’t trust feelings exclusively to make decisions, it is a lot easier to believe something when it ‘feels’ true.So I just keep listening and seeking the light.

It is my belief based on what you write here that you already believe, but that you have not yet been convicted by the Spirit. (Some of that “symantics” that I mention above.)
If you use the method you outlined above, this conviction will come…In God’s Good Time.

There isn’t really a question here, I guess that I am just trying to get more comfortable discussing faith, which because it is so personal to me, tends to be very difficult. If I am with my strongly believing friends, it is both hard for them to understand my position of questionning, and I have a hard time expressing myself fully while being careful to not create any seed of doubt in them. Discussing it with other questionning friends can help refine the questions, but doesn’t often resolve with answers. I suppose that I can be reassured that discussing it with atheist friends doesn’t shake the faith that I do have.

That’s fine that you are not really asking a question. What you have shared is very good and the feedback you have received confirms you in your understanding. This is helpful both to you and to us.
Thanks for sharing.

Peace
James

There is much about Christianity and Catholicism that is difficult to grasp. The Incarnation certainly fits into that “mystery” catagory. There have been tons of words written on the matter from every angle from the mystical to the rational…From pure theology to purely historical…
In truth, there IS a great deal of symbology in the Gospels. If one thinks about it, if the Incarnation was to achieve what God had set for it, it HAD to bring together all of the symbols before it, and it had to foreshadow (symbolically) things to come…But What God did in His great wisdom and mercy is to provide both the symbol AND the reality through the incarnation. “The Word Made Flesh”
These things are difficult to explain, but I believe you are beginning to grow in understanding.
God (The Word) became Flesh so that we (Flesh) could see and incorportate the Word. It is not often expressed this way, but I firmly believe that God became man to prove to man, by example, the path to God…That not even death is a barrier if we live in God.
If the Father had not sent the Son to show us this, physically and historically, all of this would remain too far above us. We would be unable to understand.
But there were those who saw it, preached it and wrote it down. The eyewitnesses saw a man - flesh and blood - preach heal, raise the dead, suffer die and rise. Further, they saw other men, preach, heal, raise the dead, suffer and die in the name of this one man for the Glory of God.
Yes - read the NT. See the symbols but also remember the many martyrs of the early Church. The Apostles, the bishops, priests and the many faithful who percecuted and died at the hands of the various authorities. I cannot beleive that these people would die so heroically for somthing that did not happen in history.

My apologies - I seem to have begun rambling…I will stop now…Perhaps some of what I wrote will be useful to you … I pray it will be so…

Peace
James

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