How do I regain belief?


#1

The older I get, the less I believe. As a young man, when many Catholics drift away from the Church and experiment with other lifestyles, I was steadfast. There was no room in my heart or mind for doubt about God, Heaven or Church teachings. Now, deep in middle age, life has taught me to not hope for much. Anything I’ve ever looked forward to turned out to be disappointing, in the end.

Belief in Hell is easy. Belief in Heaven seems like a fairy tale. I don’t know if there’s God or not. Nor do I live as though I care. But I want to believe again. There just aren’t any logical, intellectual reasons to believe anymore. I still attend mass every Sunday. Abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays. I say the rote prayers before meals and bedtimes. Those are lifelong habits. But I don’t really believe anymore.

In 15 or 20 years, when I die, if there is a hell and I go there, I’m sure it will physically disgusting and torturous. If there’s a heaven and I go there, it will be completely ethereal and void of physical enjoyment. So what’s the point?


#2

It could be that you are experience a dark night of the soul. I encourage you to stay very close to the sacraments during this time. I think many of of experience what you are going through at one time or another.

What helps me is to make a really good confession - in your case, go to a good priest and let him know that you are so weary. Then, after receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord in the form of the Most Holy Eucharist immediately say the Anima Christi, an ancient prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, indebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; Within thy wounds hide me; Separated from Thee let me never be; From the malicious enemy defend me; In the hour of my death, call me; And bid me to come unto Thee that I may praise Thee with Thy saints and Thy angels.

Trust me - you will feel better. God bless you.


#3

I have a picture of Padre Pio on my fridge… when I have doubts I look at him with his stigmata and I say to myself… ‘explain that one’.

Always brings me back to the glory of our Lord.

God Bless you.


#4

You may not believe this but you are experiencing one of God’s greates gifts. A process known as spiritual dryness. I know because I am experiencing one as well and have experienced them in the past. God feels far away and no matter how much we pray, fast, do penance, or works of charity, He just doesn’t seem to know or care.Take heart for God uses such times to draw us closer to him.
You say that things in the past always turned out disappointing in the end. This is a great lesson for it demonstrates how fleeting and temporary the things of this life really are. It should give you the realization of how much we rely on God and how our true hapiness can only reside in things eternal.

Belief in Hell is easy. Belief in Heaven seems like a fairy tale. I don’t know if there’s God or not. Nor do I live as though I care. But I want to believe again. There just aren’t any logical, intellectual reasons to believe anymore. I still attend mass every Sunday. Abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays. I say the rote prayers before meals and bedtimes. Those are lifelong habits. But I don’t really believe anymore.

The fact that you continue to do these things, even though your belief is low, is excellant. Do continue. One thing that I might recommend is spending time with the blessed sacrament alone. Just Go and sit. Pour out your heart to Jesus just as you have to us here. He may not answer right away but, in time, he will.

In 15 or 20 years, when I die, if there is a hell and I go there, I’m sure it will physically disgusting and torturous. If there’s a heaven and I go there, it will be completely ethereal and void of physical enjoyment. So what’s the point?

Based on what you have written I think I see you as less of a “Logical” “thomist” type and more of a mystical type. Therefore I would like to recommend a book to you that has helped me immeasurably to answer questions and rebuild my faith.
It is called “The Fulfillment of All Desire” by Ralph Martin. Not only did it help me to better understand my prayerlife but introduced me to some of the greatest writers. All of them “Doctors of The Church”.

Give it a look.

Peace
James


#5

Pray for the gift of faith. Ask Mary for her intercession; she will obtain it for you from her Son.


#6

Concerning Heaven and Hell, there are numerous theories. The common one is that a Dante’s Inferno-like Hell, and a physically, mentally, and spiritually satisfying heaven.

Although it is possible that could be the case, who knows?

All we know is this:

One: Heaven and Hell are real, both physically, mentally, and spiritually, although we cannot possible reach them while alive.

Two: Heaven is God’s kingdom. It is perfect. There is no pain or fear, no hatred or lies, but love, peace, intelligence, and joy. For a place to be perfect, it must be physically, mentally, and spiritually perfect. Therefore, who knows? There are many references to Heaven being like a great feast in the Bible, as well as being like a grand city, and other such wonderous things.

Three: Hell is place where God is absent. By this, I do not mean God could not enter Hell, as if He wanted to, for He is all-powerful. However, God is not present in the minds, souls, and bodies of those in Hell, not because God doesn’t want to be there, but because the souls there don’t want Him there. Therefore, it is the opposite of heaven, and it is completely imperfect. There is no love, no peace, no intelligence, no joy, only pain, fear, hatred, and lies. For a place to be imperfect, it has to be flawed in some way, therefore we know that it is without joy, but we don’t know how it causes this.

Heaven will provide physical joy as well in my opinion, for God even mentions He will give us new bodies that will put our current ones to shame. But that is just my theory.

Do not worry, for the Lord understand the human desire for physical enjoyment. Any happiness God provides in heaven will make all the combined happiness here on Earth equivalent to the joy you feel when you when you win a game of Minesweeper: Practically none.


#7

We’re supposed to lose faith in this life-this more or less godless existence. Mans dreams are meant to fail and the things of this world to “grow strangely dim”. It’s disappointing to be sure but that’s the point-man cannot find happiness outside of God and while we may experience tastes of that happiness here it’s nothing like the hereafter where we’ll see “face to face”. People often don’t understand that Gods will-and the mission of the Church-has always been is to fulfill mans innate desire for complete, eternally satisfying, happiness.
**“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”
**1Cor 2:9


#8

Amen to that. You need to pray for God’s guidance and have faith that he will hear you. God does hear your prayers. He WILL make himself known to you again. Try to be patient and do not despair, God is with you always.


#9

I feel the same way.


#10

I think it’s important to understand that God is not like the world :slight_smile: the world is fallen and indeed it doesn’t satisfy us or fulfil that deepest place in our hearts. It was never meant to. When the world disappoints us, I think that’s all the more reason to hope in God, because it shows that ONLY God doesn’t disappoint - ever. He is perfect, and the world is sinful. (and was never meant to have first place in our hearts anyway)

Belief in Hell is easy. Belief in Heaven seems like a fairy tale. I don’t know if there’s God or not. Nor do I live as though I care. But I want to believe again. There just aren’t any logical, intellectual reasons to believe anymore. I still attend mass every Sunday. Abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays. I say the rote prayers before meals and bedtimes. Those are lifelong habits. But I don’t really believe anymore.

Try to read something by the Saints… and pray for faith. Be completely honest with God. Don’t hide anything from Him… just pray and tell Him EVERYTHING that’s on your mind; reach out to Him.

the reason belief in heaven sometimes seems like a fairytale, to many people, is because we’ve never seen such things in our lives. But as I said, the world is sinful and we are not yet in our true home. Maybe fairytales are meant to be reminders of Heaven :wink: maybe they’re not so false after all, though the stories themselves are made up.

In 15 or 20 years, when I die, if there is a hell and I go there, I’m sure it will physically disgusting and torturous. If there’s a heaven and I go there, it will be completely ethereal and void of physical enjoyment. So what’s the point?

I think maybe it would help to think of Heaven a little differently. There, we will experience more joy than we’ve ever even thought possible. We will be in total union with God. Perhaps this doesn’t mean that much now, but the more you meditate on it, and the closer you come to God, the more it will mean. Eventually, it will not even be like intellectual faith, but you’d just know and feel sure about it, - and this comes with experience… the more we experience God, the more we understand what Heaven might be like, but it will STILL always be greater than we can conceptualize here.

I don’t think heaven is something abstract, “ghostly” and totally ethereal… as CS Lewis said, it is perhaps MORE real, more ‘solid’, than anything here. …we are not gnostics so we know the physical world is also made by God and it’s important, in fact, one day we will have bodies again :slight_smile: (in the Resurrection of the dead.) Until then, we’ll just have souls, but it will still be wonderful, we’ll actually FEEL joy and God’s love, it won’t be so abstract.

God bless :slight_smile:


#11

This statement really stood out for me. I think I’ve been in your position and I’ve gotten away from the intellectual reasons and now just go for faith… allow the heart (my heart and that of Christ) to take over instead of the brain. The rest is up to the Grace of God. It’s worked for me even though there is an underpinning of intellect following the Catholic position. If that makes any sense at all.

God Bless you friend.


#12

Thanks to all of you for your responses and your caring.

By nearly every measure of the world, I have very little to complain about: I have a job (in this economy) a home, a family, we all eat three times a day…which is alot more than other Americans have today. I should be satisfied with this world and my life in it. But I’m not that emotionally strong. I still find life very hard to bear sometimes. Maybe if I can decide to accept the possibility of Heaven after death, it would make life more bearable, and give me a reason to keep going?

Again, I appreciate each of you and your prayers.


#13

I’ll pray for you, Sonny. But ask for faith, yourself- the resurrection/eternal life is central to our hope and the ability to believe in it is a gift only God can grant.


#14

Before I start, let me make one caveat - I am not a Roman Cathiolic, just a protestant pilgrim

The older I’ve gotten I do find scepticism gnawing at the edges of my faith. In fact, I am struggling with this even now. I would like to think that for myself this is signs of a “dark night of the soul” experience but in reality, it isn’t God who is distant but me.

Others have made some good suggestions but, I would like to share those things with you from my own experience that have me personally (BTW, any scripture references I use will be from the Douay-Rhiems version).

First, make personal study of the scriptures, hearing the word preached and meditaitng on what was read and heard a regular part of your life. As it is written “Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The scriptures are the shears that God uses to prune the dead growth from our hearst that would choke out the whole plant.

Second, make regular use of sacraments - the Eucharist in particular. As Christ said “my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed”. The body and blood of Christ which we recieve in Holy Communion nourishes the soul as food and drink do the body. Of course this also assumes the use of the sacrament of penance which prepares our hearts (yes, even those struggling to beleive) to recieve the body and blood of our Lord. I often find myself at the communion rail praying “Lord, you know the struggles and doubts that I am experieincing in the weakness of my faith. I am not worthy that you should come under my roof but as I recieve you, strenghen my faith, speak the word only and my soul shall be healed”

Third, pray daily. Pray over the Sciptures you have read that day, pray about the doubts you have. But most of all, pray that God will strenghten your faith through all of this that I’ve mentioned. As was mentioned, it is He who gives the gift of faith and he who can rebuild lost faith.

In summary it is Jesus, who is “the author and finisher of faith” (Heb. 12:2) who should be the focus. St. Peter began to sink beneath the waves when he took his eyes off of Christ. THe same happens to us spiritually when we do the same.

These are some of the things that have helped me, I hope that some of it might be of help to you.

Well, that is my $.02 worth.

Stephen


#15

JL: My suggestion would be spend time before the tabernacle, pouring your heart out to God, as you have here. Make yourself stay at lest thirty minutes offering it as penance. You may find it boring while there, but you will see something new in your life after. You could, as another has said, be going thru a dark night of the soul. My expirence has been those times I felt God was far away, when I have passed thru those times, I could see God was there closer than ever. I will be praying for you. Also talk to God when you say your prayers don’t just say words, let you heart speak to God as you pray.

JL: Why do you think there will be no physical enjoyment in heaven, we will still have a body and soul. True there will be no sex as its purpose will be fulfilled. When God fulfills something he fulfills it with something better. The scripture tell us eye has not seen nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared form him.


#16

yes faith can be restored insomuch that you do not read so much as to try and let your mind wander an imagine the Lord in your mind, opening the gates for you to enter into union with him all that is of this earth and in heaven. That all wrongs will be righted, and peace of mind and soul are going to rule over all of us. If imagining, God holding your hand as consolation as you did with your earthly father as a child, possibly this can ease yor fears and calm you. If it is solid proof you need that God is with you, just look at the computer screen and know that the members of CAF are here with you, and we all share the same faith, doubts, and anxieties with you in our own ways. The fact that you are here talking with us is proof that God has led you here for reassurance, guidance, and a way to rediscover him through your peers on this site. I willpray for you.


#17

Hi Sonny, You may not realize it now but you are actually in a very very blessed position. You have come to middle age and everything you have looked forward to has turned out to be disappointing.

God is preparing you for your next stage. You are being coraled by God. Doors are closing and everything is gloomy. Faith in heaven seem so far away. The only joy that you can ever have is the joy of God.

Now you wonder how do you get the faith in God and joy. This is sometimes hard, especially when things are going so bad. It is really really hard as your heart is being stretched. To get the faith start by doing this. Every person that you meet or have contact with love them with all you heart. It does not matter if they are good or bad, if they will be nice back or not. That is not your issue. Your issue is to love sincerely everyone that you meet. See the humanity in everyone. See the hurt, pain, disappointment and problems that they have. Love them fully.

Do this every day with everyone. Make your life mission to love everyone you can. Love the evil, the stubborn, love the one’s that back stab you, love everyone. Make your mission to love everyone you meet.

Forget about any worldy goals that you may have had like, whatever job or whatever money, or whatever woman, whatever. Forget about that. Now your purpose is to love all that you can.

Do this and slowly with difficulty light will creep into your heart. Joy will slowly come in and you faith will increase.

Love is the key brother open the door.


#18

Nicely said Seeker,
You have articulated well one of the core messages contained in the writings of some of our most revered Saints and Doctors of the Church. :thumbsup:

Peace
James


#19

All Christians want, or should want, to increase their faith. But those who have given their lives to Christ have come to realize that success does not come from our own human attempts; we always fail. First Corinthians 4:7 reminds us, “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” Without God, we are left to our own resources, which plague us with pride, stubbornness, indifference, insensitivity, and failure. The only one we can count on who absolutely will not fail us is God (Hebrews 13:5).

Beginning our journey of faith with God requires that we immerse ourselves in His Word (Titus 1:13-14). We must learn about His love, His justice, His mercy, and His plan. We must form a relationship with Him, so that we can know Him personally through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). We should ask Him to reveal Himself to us and change us. The Bible promises that if we seek God, we will find Him (Matthew 7:7). And if we allow Him to, He will transform us into new people who can know His will (Romans 12:2). We have to be willing to die to our old selves and let go of the pride and selfishness that kept us from Him for so long. As God changes us, we will learn to develop the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit, who dwells in all Christians (Galatians 5:22-23; John 14:17). As we walk in the Spirit, allowing Him to control our lives, we will begin to trust in Him. “Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done” (Colossians 2:7).

If our trust in God is going to grow, we have to learn to step out in faith, moving out of our comfort zone and taking chances. If we believe that God will sustain us for that day, we can be free to carry out His will, regardless of the consequences. Whenever we face temptations, God will always provide a way out so that we will not be overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13). We need to look for that way out, and praise God when we find it. First Peter 1:7 says He will use trials to test our faith and to make us stronger Christians; we will be given much honor if we can stand strong and not waver. “Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news – the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17).


#20

Short answer to your problem: Pray for faith.
Long answer to your problem: pray for fath earnestly.
faith is a gift and a virtue. you recieve it through batism and prayer and it grows through prayer, scaraments and good actions. it is like a muscle- if you do not use it it atrophies (any virtue is like this). go and recieve the sacraments and attend mass and pray for an increase of faith hope and love (they are pretty much inseperable) and you will recieve it, even if it means God has you fight and struggle to obtain it.


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