How to regain faith?


#1

I don’t even know what faith is.

I mean, normally it’s not a priority, but during Christmastime I feel really hollow. Like a hypocrite or outsider.

I don’t know if I even believe in god. I can’t think of any reasons why I should, or any proof that I should even bother.

I find it so hard to believe in him, but at the same time, I’m afraid to let go of my faith-- if i ever even had it-- because I’ve still got this (irrational?) fear of going to hell.

It’s weird. I’m uncomfortable labeling myself as a “believer” and uncomfortable labeling myself as an “atheist”. Both titles repel me.

At the same time, I’m a person who’s been raised in a really strict conservative Catholic family. I’m well versed in the bible and the basic of catechism. For 4 years, my family and I have been going to spiritual retreats. I altar serve (at the urging of my mom) every Sunday.

However, I’ve got my own personal demons. There’s a side of me that I’m really ashamed of. I have this problem with certain sins, which I can’t get over of.

I don’t know who I can talk to comfortably without anonymity. the priests at my church are… eh. they’re busy people. they’re alright, but I don’t feel comfortable talking to them about stuff.

And my parents… definitely not.

(i’m a 16 year old girl)

What should I do?


#2

Thank you for feeling you could speak to us on Catholic Answers Forums.
It is good that you are trying to seek answers for the sincere doubts you feel At your aga and much younger I had many questions and couldn’t find anyone to answer them, except to say, “You just have to have faith” which answer wasn’t any help at all. So I know something of what you’re going through…and will PM you with some of my experience in the hope that it can be of some kind of help.

Warm regards, Trishie


#3

I’ve never been in your shoes, but I have known persons who were.
First, keep on acting as if you believe. Sounds silly, but I think it
will help if you pray as you are doing (serving at Mass, going to
Mass, etc)it Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Talk to a priest at
another parish, in confession, and tell him what’s going on. The
devil is real and will try to convince you that your sins are unique,
that no one else has ever been so bad, had these horrible habits,
etc. BUT, believe me, most priests have heard them all, and they
won’t be scandalized to hear what you have to confess. And,most
will be able to guide you and help you fight the demons.
Don’t consider your fear of hell irrational. Hell is real and your fear
is justified, but it is not where you have to go. That is why you need the graces to fight and stay on the path that the Lord wants
you on. Not going to be easy, but having confronted what is going
on with you is a big step forward.
One friend told me that she left the church for a time and
really “pushed the envelope” with her bad ways. I asked her what
brought her back and , her very words, “The devil!” She says that
while she was driving, he told her that he was pleased with her.
I think she said it was like a vision, (sorry, it’s been awhile since
she told me), It scared her so badly, she almost had a wreck.
When she stopped the car, she was in front of a Catholic Church
and it was time for confessions!! She went in and was the last
one, just before they finished hearing confession! She had her
confession heard, took her a long time, but the priest was patient
and, since it was a visiting priest, he did not have to leave. She
has been a changed person since then and a blessing to all who
know her. She teaches confirmation and has a beautiful way with
teens, really challenges them to learn their faith and learn the
bible. That is what the priest told her to do and she did. Started
the minute she got home and pulled out a bible she found!!

I will be keeping you in my prayers. God bless and guide you.


#4

Fingerpainter, I will be following this thread with great interest because almost everything you have said is something I am currently struggling with.

Fear of hell keeps me up at night. What sane person wouldn’t lose sleep when they might be on the brink of eternal damnation?

Like Trishie, I find myself annoyed by the answer of “You just need faith” or “Just pray about it and everything will work out.” Faith for so many people just seems to click. For me, I just don’t seem get it.

I do want to ask you one question for my own curiosity. You said you have been going to spiritual retreats for 4 years. Do you feel like you get anything out of them? Do you ever have a spiritual experience from them?

BTW, I love your paintings.


#5

Somebody else just asked that question and I posted the following

Hi, maybe you need to do what I did, keep searching for Him. Just talk nornally to God. Tell Him he’s very silent as far as you can tell, so okay, but ''help me find You." Anything like "Power of Goodness and Love (or God) I can’t find You, please ‘find’ Yourself to me. "You can think about it and people can talk about it, but in your deepest self you need to patiently keep reaching out for Him, telling Him exactly how it is for you. The important thing is to be honest, simple, patient, and authentic with God. He took his time with me, and I refused to kid myself, but He surprised me finally one day, quite unexpectedly.

I’ll keep you in my prayers.

Warm regards, Trishie


#6

Hi fingerpainter,

It sounds as if you are being tempted or persuaded somehow to give up your faith. On another thread a poster describes the mechanism of temptation as :

PhilotheaZ
One way to look at this is to go back to the original temptation, described in Genesis 3:

From this, we see that temptation involves:
Lies (verse 4). Satan is the father of lies.
Appealing to our pride (verse 5), making us think we are as smart as God.
Appealing to our senses (verse 6).
Working through the people around us; they are often involved in the temptation process (verse 6).
Loss of a sense of responsibility for our own actions (verses 12 and 13).

I think this analysis can be applied to your situation.
You are being lied to by being convinced that God does not exist and that your faith is worthless.
You are also being lied to by the insinuation that your personal sins are uniquely evil and will condemn you to Hell.
Pride may be involved in the seeking of evidence for God’s existence and the justification of faith. "You’re a smart girl, how can you believe that baloney?"
The appeal to your senses may be through some or all of the personal demons that you struggle with; and the dangling of the earthly ‘pleasures’ that you could indulge in guilt free if you gave up your faith.
There are likely to be people around you at school, amongst your peers, who are not believers, and as a Catholic myself I have experience of how some people react and make fun or worse of Catholics.
The loss of a sense of responsibility would be the final stage, that’s the point at which you give up your belief in Hell. In other words you develop the erroneous belief that there are no eternal consequences of your actions.

I hope this helps as a way of thinking about what is really going on. You are precious to God and He does not want to lose you.

The solution is to hold fast to your faith and to conbtinue to behave as if your faith is as strong as ever.

God bless you


#7

You cannot “regain faith”. It is not something you create or will on your own. It is something you must accept, even if you have doubts.

Faith is a gift from God. He loves us so much that He will never force us to accept that gift, we must choose to open it.

Questioning your faith, or lack of faith is good, as long as you stay open to the Truth.

In today’s world, it is extremely easy to reject God’s love.

We are constantly bombarded by hostile, negative messages about God’s existence, about Christianity, and especially about the Catholic faith.

We have become so arrogant that we begin to believe that we are our own God and that we don’t need anyone else to guide us to the Truth.

If you truly care about your spiritual health, you must be selective. The old saying “you are what you eat” is true. A constant diet of negative messages about the failures of Christians will ruin your appetite for God’s love.

Do not reject Jesus because we, His followers, are sinners.

It is so much easier to be agnostic or an atheist. You will be seen as popular, open minded, “bright”, enlightened, etc.

If you are looking for the Truth, block out the “noise” and listen.

Start with the most obvious signs of God. Do you really believe that the universe and life itself is a random mistake? Is it possible that a nearly infinite universe could have accidentally developed with specific rules that apply universally to even the smallest sub-atomic particles?

We have recently discovered the makeup of the human genome, the DNA of our species, our hereditary code. It consists of 3 BILLION letters in a 4 letter cryptographic code in each cell.

Look at the stars, look at a flower, a bird, a cat, look at each person you encounter. They are similar yet unique, no two alike.

We are all on our own unique journey through life.

Do not rush to a conclusion, listen to the “small, quiet voice” in your heart.

Consider all arguments, try to disprove everything you are told, but be fair and unbiased.

As you continue, do not believe all of the highly educated, highly intelligent “experts”.

Read the Holy Scriptures, read the Church Fathers, read the Catechism, pray, pray, pray.

Ask for the strength to hear and to accept the Truth, no matter what the consequences to you personally.

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” LK 9:23.

That is the real reason faith comes so reluctantly. We must deny ourselves and take up the Cross daily! It is not easy, but nothing worthwhile is.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

Mark


#8

A major step to my deep believing came from talking to someone who experienced a supernatural event and reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (educated at Yale Law and award winning former Chicago Times legal editor and former atheist) with logical and throughly researched reasons for believing in the Resurrection and Christianity. amazon.com/Case-Christ-Journalists-Personal-Investigation/dp/0310209307

The life of Blaise Pascal (helped write a defense of the scientific method, Pascal’s triangle, calculator, and many other contributions of this child prodigy in physics and mathematics) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal and Pascal’s Wager, uses Decision Theory to argue for belief in God,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal’s_Wager may help!

Obtaining a copy of the article or reading summaries of Histological, immunological, and biochemiccal studies on the flesh and blood of the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano (8th century) by Dr. Odoardo Linoli, with an archived citation in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health may help. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=4950729&log$=activity Summary: therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html

Newpaper articles on Marian apparitions and reading about the apparitions themselves and their consequences may help!

Kibeho, Rwanda prior to the genocide: the Mother of the Word appeared. She said a “river of blood” would happen if people did not convert, repent,pray the Rosary, the Chaplet of Seven Sorrows, and stop committing various moral sins, such as the girls sleeping with certain men. Did a river of blood happen? This New York Times Article on the Rwandan genocide documents the apparitions of Mary prior to the genocide. query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9400E4D81738F93BA35757C0A96F958260

Fatima, Portugal: See some of the messages from Mary to the three little children: The war [World War I was still raging] is going to end. But if people do not stop offending God, another and worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI… When you shall see a night illuminated by an unknown light [on January 25-26, 1938 from 9PM to 2AM there appeared over the Northern Hemisphere a very unusual light that scared many people. The New York Times devoted almost an entire page to the event. Scientists attributed it to an exceptional aurora borealis] “know that this is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its many crimes by means of war, hunger and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father” [Within two months of the sign, in March of 1938, Hitler invaded his first country, Austria.] loveandmercy.org/loveandmercy/fatima.htm

New York Times article: January 26, 1938
Aurura Borealis Startles Europe; People Flee in Fear, Call Firemen; Britons Thought Windsor Castle Ablaze–Scots See Ill Omen-Snow-Clad Swiss Alps Glow–Short-Wave Radio Halts The most brilliant display of an aurora borealis in fifty years held Britons spellbound over a wide area of this country tonight. From 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. the people of London watched two magnificent arcs rising in the east and west, from which radiated pulsating beams like searchlights in dark red, greenish blue and purple. [End of First Paragraph] Buy This Article, Single Article $3.95 select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00817FB355A157A93C4AB178AD85F4C8385F9

Los Angeles Times, Jan 26, 1938 Aurora Borealis Upsets Europeans pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/743927742.html?dids=743927742:743927742&FMT=CITE&FMTS=CITE:AI&date=Jan+26%2C+1938&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&desc=Aurora+Borealis+Upsets+Europeans&pqatl=google

Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan 26, 1938Aurora Borealis Glows in Widest Area Since 1709Abstract (Document Summary) Radio and telegraphic communication was disrupted and persons in many parts of the world were awed tonight as the aurora borealis [northern lights] flamed brilliantly farther south than the phenomenon ever has been seen by this generation.
pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/441756312.html?dids=441756312:441756312&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&date=Jan+26%2C+1938&author=&pub=Chicago+Daily+Tribune&desc=AURORA+BOREALIS+GLOWS+IN+WIDEST+AREA+SINCE+1709&pqatl=google

May the Holy Spirit through the Mary grace us with the gifts that we most desperately need! May the LOVE and MERCY of Jesus be known, loved, believed, glorified, adored, understood, and respected by all, in all time, in all places! May the WONDERS of Mary be venerated, loved, known, understood, and respected by all, for all time, in all creation! AMEN!! AMEN!! AMEN!!

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world! For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world! For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *


#9

I’m in a very similar boat to Fingerpainter. I became a Christian at the age of 12 and even then, I never felt comfortable in the religion. It is now 14 years later, and this has not been resolved. I’ve studied other faiths for a time, and have tried returning to the Christian faith on more than one occasion, but I’ve never felt spiritually filled. It may have something to do with the first church I went to. The congregation had a very cult-like mindset. They were so quick to judge their own for the smallest indiscretions. My mother tells me to pray, but I’ve been doing so for years, and my doubts have not left. Part of me thinks it’s pointless to pray anyway. According to James 1:6-8, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed to the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is double-minded, unstable in all his ways.” I’ve been fighting my inner “demons” from age 12 to present, so for all the sickness dancing around in there, it’s hard for me to trust my own mind. I second guess everything. I cannot even begin to count the nights I’ve stayed up debating these issues and woke up bitter, stressed, and frustrated. If one is questioning their own mental faculties, how is one expected to ask something from God with no doubting? If faith is a gift from God, it is one I don’t think I’ve ever received. : /

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.


#10

Rabbi David Wolpe is a renaissance man and his little book on *Why Faith Matters *is filled with thoughtful quotes, stories, and erudition on the topic of faith.

I’ve made a couple reading selections from it and might help you as you struggle with the idea of Faith.

"The world is, so to speak, full of nonphysical entities that baffle our understanding. When the Psalmist asks, “Where is the place of God’s glory?” he is wondering if we can speak of a place for that which is not physical. As we are accustomed to acknowledging what we cannot see, the idea of God seems less strange. Nonphysical things are real; they are the stuff of life. Our lives pivot on real things that are non-material: ideas, emotions, imagination, memory, relationships, intuition, suffering, joy, and faith. To believe only in what you can see seems a peculiar form of blindness."

More here:

payingattentiontothesky.com/2010/01/25/faith-questions/

dj


#11

Well it's two years later and someone followed the link I made above to my site, so I got a chance to see what I had written back in 2010. In 2012 my answer has changed somewhat.

I give you a short essay by the Frank Sheed, the evangelist, publisher, lecturer and writer. He and his wife, Maisie Ward, founded Sheed & Ward, the publishing house in London, introducing such Catholic giants as Dorothy Day, Jacques Maritain, François Mauriac and G.K. Chesterton to the world. The man never wrote a bad sentence and his power as an apologist was a parade of scholarship: “he wrote simply but never simplistically, in the clarity of thought which is the thought of the Church.”

You can find it all here:

payingattentiontothesky.com/2012/12/21/spirit-by-frank-sheed/

A blessed Christmas to you and to all.

dj


#12

My recommendation to you is to go and talk with a priest. Tell him your concerns and problems. After all it’s what they’re here for.

Sometimes we just have to let go and trust in God. Keep praying and don’t worry if you fall short; we are all sinners. The Church is indeed, a hospital for sinners. I’m sure God will understand.:thumbsup:


#13

[quote="BrokenSoul, post:9, topic:136550"]
I'm in a very similar boat to Fingerpainter. I became a Christian at the age of 12 and even then, I never felt comfortable in the religion. It is now 14 years later, and this has not been resolved. I've studied other faiths for a time, and have tried returning to the Christian faith on more than one occasion, but I've never felt spiritually filled. It may have something to do with the first church I went to. The congregation had a very cult-like mindset. They were so quick to judge their own for the smallest indiscretions. My mother tells me to pray, but I've been doing so for years, and my doubts have not left. Part of me thinks it's pointless to pray anyway. According to James 1:6-8, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed to the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is double-minded, unstable in all his ways." I've been fighting my inner "demons" from age 12 to present, so for all the sickness dancing around in there, it's hard for me to trust my own mind. I second guess everything. I cannot even begin to count the nights I've stayed up debating these issues and woke up bitter, stressed, and frustrated. If one is questioning their own mental faculties, how is one expected to ask something from God with no doubting? If faith is a gift from God, it is one I don't think I've ever received. : /

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

[/quote]

Brokensoul and Fingerpainter,
My heart goes out to you both. May I suggest a solution to your problem? Please read this for it is a wonderful message to you from your blessed mother Mary.

In 1840, Mary instructed Sister Bisqueyburu, in Paris, who was a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, to help people having difficulty in their faith or lack of it. She wanted the sister to promote to those people a scapular of her's, the color of it was green, and it had her picture on it of her immaculate heart. It was a token from her of her love for them and that she would pray for them if they wore it, or carried it on them in her name. And the greater the trust the person had in her to obtain great graces for them, the more those graces would come.

It is a her gift to us and her own wish that we carry it, and a favour to her that we carry it as she requested. She is our mother, and you know how mothers are, they can't do enough for their child. Always worring about them and caring for them. Well, she is no different than any other mother and wants to make sure about our wellbeing. So she asks that this beautiful gift from her be used to bring us the help we need.

And here are some of the benefits of it:

.. Conversion of those who do not have the faith
.. Reconciliation to the Church for those who have lost/strayed from the faith
.. Assurance of a happy death
.. Strengthening of the faith for those already in the Church
.. Protection from Satan for those who wear or promote the scapular

Are any of those benefits what you want? Maybe all of them?

However for it to work, Mary did ask a favour of you.

The green scapular should be blessed.
Wear it around the neck, or carry it on you, in your wallet, purse, pocket.
Say this prayer at least once every day:
"Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."
Have great trust in her. Place yourself in her care and tell her that you know your problem is taken care of because she promised on her word. And thank her every day.

She didn't say when, only that she would do it for you.

A free green scapular may be obtained by googling "geen scapular".

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=544742&page=3

My father, a fallen-away Catholic, passed away several years ago. When he first became ill and was hospitalized, one of the Vincentian priest pinned a Green Scapular to his pillow. I know my mother was especially worried about his salvation, as he had not awakened following emergency surgery. He did awaken many days later, and that same Vincentian asked if he wished to receive the sacraments. He was on a ventilator, so he could not speak, but he could indicate "yes" or "no", so the priest simply asked if he was sorry for any and all sins he committed, then he was given Extreme Unction. This was 2 years to the day of my auto accident, August 3rd. He died 2 days later, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows on August 5th. There is a promise attached to the Green Scapular that Our Lady will obtain the conversion of those who have fallen away from the True Faith. I'm convinced she did so with my father, the day of his death was clearly Providential.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=620449
(From an atheist)
How did you come to embrace Catholicism?
Strangely enough, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. That friend of mine had sneakily
snuck in a scapular under my mattress. I didn't know until about 1 year into my
conversion. I imagine that she had something to do with it. I think it was the
green scapular.


#14

If you seek faith, go to the source of faith, Jesus Christ.

Faith is God's revelation to us, however that may happen.

When we turn to Jesus and pray for him to give us faith, he will do it.

However, we have to be open to faith and be willing to surrender all of ourselves
to Him.

This means, detaching from your own ideas and agendas about God and religion.

Let Jesus bring you to where He wants you.

Pray, pray, pray.

God Bless
Jim


#15

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