Hopeful Faith

For the past few months, I have been struggling with a very difficult issue. Every time that I failed in any way, whether through human error, intentional or unintentional sin, or when any suffering or negativity occurred, it hurt me deep in my heart. I felt it in my entire being, and it made me angry, frustrated, and deeply sorrowful. That built up for those months, alongside my doubts about my faith and many other problems in life, until recently, when they broke through and flooded my mind with resignation and despair. I simply could not understand how to handle suffering and struggle. I recognized good things, but struggle consumed my view. I tried to answer it, in all ways, but I could not.

But there was one way I had not tried: facing it. After feeling the deepest emptiness I had felt in years, I decided to face it. I faced the fact that I will struggle, suffer, doubt and sin my entire life; that I will probably never physically see God; that others will suffer and have problems; that I will always have unanswered questions. But, I came to a realization: the answer is hope. I asked myself one question: do I believe that God will eventually repair the world of it’s negativity? And, I do believe that. I then realized that the faith St. Theresa spoke of, the faith that forms a castle around the heart and despite all suffering makes it impenetrable, is a faith based in hope. Once one believes in Christ’s salvation, to it’s fullest extent even to the ultimate repair of the entire world, then all else extends from that, including complete faith, love and morality, endurance of suffering, and all other virtues. That must be meditated upon, loved, adored, and cherished above all else: Christ’s salvation. That forms the faith from which hope comes, and the hope from which all else follows.

Hope does not remove suffering or struggle. It doesn’t answer all questions, or remove doubts or temptations in the mind. It doesn’t stop Satan, other people or yourself from causing these things. But it gives the ability to endure them with the certainty that one day, everything will be as it should be, and can only be so by God’s grace. With hope, everything will happen. Faith is not immediate; it builds over time. But faith starts with the belief in Christ’s salvation. From that comes belief and hope in all else, and from those comes love. It’s not easy; but it’s worth it. This realization saved my life, and I wanted to share it with everyone here. Please, pray for me in my faith-building, as I will pray for all of you, and I ask for the intercession of our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary in our prayers. God bless.

I heard a homily a few weeks ago by a priest I greatly admire but I disagreed with his conclusion. He said it is difficult to get into heaven. Fortunately Catholics believe the alternative is not only hell but also purgatory - which makes more sense given that most us are neither saints nor devils. Even so the holy priest gave the impression that God’s justice is more dominant than His love and that life is a hard struggle against evil and temptation.

Yet the great mystics have told us that charity begins at home. We need to love ourselves in order to love others. If we are too harsh on ourselves we may be guilty of pride because we expect too much of ourselves and overestimate our capabilities. We need to avoid the extremes of being scrupulous and being unscrupulous. When we are constantly concerned about our sins we make ourselves miserable and difficult to live with. It is a mistake never to examine our conscience but it is also a mistake to examine it too often.

The solution is simple but requires practice like any other pursuit of perfection. If we are motivated by love in all our thoughts and actions we may make mistakes but it is impossible for us to commit serious sins and offences. Life is not a test of how well we obey the rules. It is an opportunity to develop our love, appreciation and creativity. Life is a struggle of good against evil but for the most part our decisions are not concerned with large issues like abortion, euthanasia and injustice. They are concerned with our personal life and relations to others. Rather than dwell on our failures we should remind ourselves of our successes! The hope of which you speak, together with faith and charity, will inevitably produce more spectacular results than introversion and self-criticism. When we forget ourselves we are less likely to be preoccupied with our eternal destiny. In that respect at least the good atheist is not mistaken: we should do what is right for its own sake and not from any thought of reward in heaven…:slight_smile:

I read somewhere once that the holy mary in one of her messages in bosna said most souls go to purgatory, alot go to hell and a few go stright to heaven.

Also what Jesus once said in the bible. the gate to heaven is narrow and the gate to hell is wide. not in those words but it goes to show you that getting to heaven is not an easy thing for us to do. its not GODs fault but our own.
Even some of the saints needed to spend a little time in purgatory so that they can be pure.

I was talking with my parish priest, Fr. Terry, about sin, abolustion etc., and he said that people often leave the confessional feeling like they haven’t been forgiven and therefore come back and confess the same sin again and again. He gets frustrated when people do this as they are effectively putting themselves, their pride before God’s love and mercy. They assume that thier sin is so grave they cannot be forgiven, but only God can make that judgement. What they need to do is trust in God’s mercy totally and utterly. The fact they’re forgiven doesn’t make the sin they committed any less of a crime and it doesn’t stop the human emotion that is guilt but if they don’t accept God’s will over their own then the consequences can be dire.

I mulled over this for a while afterwards and found that I was holding on to certain things I have done in my past. I was unsure that my sin could be forgiven, I hoped it would be, but I thought perhaps it was too grave. During prayer one night God showed me (I know that sounds corny but the whole thing takes too long to explain) what would happen if I placed myself before Him. It was terrifying. Since then I have realised that I must hope, love and trust God above all else. When things get tough I find this phrase helps; O most sacred heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You. I repeat it a few times each day, keeps me grounded.

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories and insights that I think very well reflect the points I made in my original narrative. :slight_smile:

My dear friend

Try not to get gloomy. Gloominess is an ally of the enemy. We have St Gregory the Greats feast day coming very soon. He gave us the list of the 7 deadly sins. A deadly sin is one which leads to many others. And gloominess almost made the list. We can overcome sin with a lot of very hard work. The saints are a testimony to this. If we do very little and then fail we can’t get gloomy we did not succeed. An athlete must work like heck to win Olympic gold. It’s the same with us. If we want to be a saint we must work extremely hard, but not more than we’re capable of. In fact we only need to cooperate with grace to win the race. We don’t need to actually do anything except say yes to God and cooperate with His grace. We start out like babies in the spiritual life. Gradually we learn to crawl, then walk and we eventually can run. With a lot of hard work we eventually run like a champion – a saint. The secret is to cop all humiliation on the chin and never look back or allow the negativity and failures to stop us marching onwards to sanctity. There is nothing God wants more for us than to make us into saints. Ask Him every day to make you a saint. Pester Him. You are unhappy trying to come to terms with an unhappy lot. You’ll never be happy being content with this lot. Go all out to the best of your ability and you will make progress and you will find the joy, peace and happiness you desire- now and hereafter. Saints are the happiest people on earth. If you want to be happy strive for sanctity. Don’t listen to others or the enemy who will work against this. Go for gold dear friend. We are happiest when we win the gold. I am praying for you.

God bless all
John

Very true my friend. Thank you for your comment and prayers. :slight_smile:

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