Faith vs. Going Through the Motions

How do you live a life of faith without going through the motions?

My own view is that, whilst merely going through the motions is not a good thing, we all go though periods of spiritual dryness when it feels as if this is what we are doing. I think there is nothing intrinsically wrong with routine. Some days, we will just not feel like prayer. If one has a routine to keep oneself praying anyway, eventually you come back round again.

I am a creature of habit, and I’m trying to build up good habits and weed out bad ones. Habit is nothing to be afraid of, so long as you have the good ones.

I guess I’m not sure what you mean, since the motions must be gone thru if the life of faith is to grow. The basic motion is prayer whether we “feely goody” or not. Same thing for
Mass or observing other motions of our faith. In fact, it is more inportant to go thru the
motions and doing it regardless what is going on in a person’s life because that shows more faith. Even tho what we do is dry and without consolation. Someone said,
we must seek the God of consolation, and not the consolations of God. This means going thru the motions at all times whether it is pleasing to us or only pleasing to God. I believe Mother Teresa mentioned that she didn’t feel anything when she received communion for about five years. But she lived by faith and was faithful to the motions because that was all she had to give at the time and that is what Jesus wanted.

Just a thought.

If you mean that the fullness of living a Christian life means simply going to Mass and carrying out the rituals of a life lived in the Church, such a life is not a life of faith. The Gospels must transform us, so that we live each day changed by the message of the Good News of Christ.

I’m not sure what you are asking here…If you have faith then you will “go through the motions” of the faith you have.

In fact this can be said truly that the “motions you go through” really express your faith - whatever that faith is…

Living (in a normative sense) requires motions so how does one “live a life of …” without "going through the motions?

Perhaps you can clarify a bit…


Thank you for this quote, it spoke to me enough to try to look up its source. From what I can tell, it was St Francis de Sales who said this.

It always helped in times of boredom and when tired.

I also read two other saints, again I don’t know who, but they said this(in my words),

  1. If you are down and dry with no pleasure in your faith, expect a great consolation.
  2. If you had a great consolation(joy), than expect a difficult dry period.

Seems as tho they counter balance each other.

So I always fear a great consolation and tell sweet Jesus I don’t need 'em.

Just a few thoughts.

I want to thank all of you for responding to my original post, it has helped me put some things into perspective. I know that the way I phrased the question could have been written a lot better than it was, so I apologize for the confusion. I think I am just trying to figure out how one maintains their faith without letting the rituals overrule their life to the point that their faith becomes stagnant.

You all made some very excellent points. So far, I have learned a lot about keeping the faith and encountering spiritual dryness.

Thank you again for responding, I enjoyed reading them.

Ah - thanks for the clarification. “Ritual” or “routine” can certainly be problematic but also helpful.
In times of dryness, fatigue, depression and other struggles, the “routine” of kneeling and praying before crawling into bed is a help - one “doesn’t feel right” if they don’t pray - or one drops to their knees out of habit (I know this of personal experience). Even if the prayers are short, troubled and difficult - till they call God to mind.

To me the root is Love. The greatest of the virtues and the one that gives the others true meaning. If you Love someone (a spouse) you might not always “feel close”. You might take them for granted. They might even irritate you and you might have disagreements and arguments.
But beneath all of this and woven through all of it is a Love, a commitment to the other person. Even more there is the fact that you count on the love of that other person and on your love for them. No matter what you will be there for them. Things might change (rituals) over time, but the Love remains and grows in good times and bad.


i once spent a fair amount of time watching some dvds by fr. raymond gawronski on the spiritual exercises of st. ignatius. after that, i talked to a local jesuit because i had some questions.

one thing the jesuit said is that consolation means that God is there. A person could be at a funeral but have consolation. Perhaps the deceased led a holy life, etc.

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