I Am Thirsty,


#1

Pardon the cliche, but this is how I truly feel. About a year ago I came to this forum, seeking to possibly convert to Catholicism. But I still have my doubts. For a very long time I have considered myself as simply an agnostic. I don’t know whether or not a god exists. However, I also find that such a belief has left me feeling empty and lonely. The idea that we are all alone in this vast universe, with only the ability to experience one short lifetime on earth is frankly, depressing. There is so much evil in the world, and it is truly sad if this is the only thing we have to look forward to in life.

My questions are- How can I know that Catholicism is the one true faith? How can I be 100% sure that God exists? How can I be sure that I am not simply clinging to religion out of fear and weakness, instead of out of reason? Thank you.


#2

Inside each of us is a “God shaped hole” that only He can fill.

I wish I could promise you “proof” that it is actually Him that fills that hole once you let Him into your life, but I can’t.

But I am 100% certain that He put that hole there so that you’d want to let Him fill it and that you wiil continue to feel that void whenever you keep him from His rightful place.

I can promise you that once you accept His offer of faith you will find nothing in Him or His Church that contradicts sound reason.

God bless and I’ll be praying for you.

Chuck


#3

Start with the idea that for a human being there is no such thing as ABSOLUTE certainty. Doubt and questions are part of the human condition. I am satisfied if all reasonable doubts have been vanquished and only unreasonable doubts lurk.

Second reason is a wonderful gift as are feelings but some people place too much emphasis on one or the other - some live off and rely on emotional warm fuzzies; others must reason their way to everything. Use both and toss in experience too.

Remember God has nothing to do but pursue you and love you and He’ll do anything to get ya. Look at the longings you have and the emptiness you experience. Are you experiencing God’s absence because you have not invited Him in?


#4

Faith involves placing our hope in something that we cannot see. We cannot see the future, for instance. Yet when I marry somebody I am placing my trust in our relationship and that we will remain together for life.
The first step in conversion, as in any decision, is one based on faith. The peace that follows a well made decision cannot be described. It is the antithesis of a decision poorly made. This is something to which you may be able to relate.
Returning to the marriage analogy, the only exterior evidence you have of the relationship is the ring worn on the finger or the verbally expressed need to hurry home. A light might shine in the eyes of those who are happily married and yet we know little of their intimate experience within the relationship.
The call to conversion is a call to relationship. Because God is unseen, I cannot convince you unequivocally of His existence (not overlooking the 5 Proofs of St. Thomas Aquinas). I may actually appear crazy walking down the street praising God, reciting my rosary, or singing in a language that I do not even understand.
It is that step in faith, even uncertain faith, to which God responds in ways beyond expectation.


#5

May I suggest that you read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis? He was an athiest who became a Christian. In this book, in the beginning, he reviews how he came to believe in God. Lewis became an Anglican, couldn’t quite make it into Catholicism. Apparently his upbringing was quite anti-Catholic, and he couldn’t overcome that.

Prayers for your journet.

Peace,
Linda

P.S. I agree with the " God-shaped hole".


#6

Dear Merquito,

What beautiful honesty. Thank you.

I want to assure you that faith is not contrary to reason; it is not a weakness either. I recall being in college not too long ago, and being haunted by the idea that God was my wish fulfillment. I had never doubted until then. It was a horrible, black darkness. I ran from God in the way I lived during that time. But I found that no matter what I did, my desire kept leading me back to Him. The desire for God was greater than the desire against Him. That helped me to realize that God was greater than what I imagined Him to be.

Fast forward many years, and I was able to study lots of work by St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. You can find in them many convincing arguments for the existence of God and the truth of the Catholic faith. And it’s not just argument, but an appeal to reality.

St. Thomas says that we cannot convince someone to believe, however - we can only show them why the faith is not harmful to reason. Ultimately, we believe, it is God who does the moving and convincing in the soul. This is why we call faith a gift.

Have you read Augustine’s Confessions? He talks a lot about the restless heart of man. It might be a comfort to you.


#7

When it comes to belief in God and Faith reason and learning (doctrine, beliefs, etc.) can only get one so far. It is my experience that there comes a point when one has to make a “leap of Faith” and start living and praying as if what you have reasoned and learned is true. I don’t think that it is a losing proposition as one can always go back to square one.

Speak to God, share with him your feelings and doubts, your needs. Speak in whatever way you feel most comfortable, whether aloud, in a whisper, in your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be rote prayers out of a book, but a conversation, probably a monologue, like you might carry on with any friend willing to listen. Does that seem totally rational? Probably not, but give it a try.

As far as the existence of Jesus there is probably just as much evidence of his having lived and died on this earth as exists for people like Homer, Cicero, Socrates and others. Most of us have no difficulty believing in their existence and their deeds, but for some reason we struggle when it comes to Jesus.:shrug:


#8

Thank you everyone for your replies so far. I think I will try to take an honest leap of faith and pray for guidance in this matter. How does one pray? Do I just contemplate this issue in my head?

What if my prayers aren’t answered?

How will I know if my prayers have been answered? How long should I wait for an answer?

Why does God, if he exists, require faith? It would seem that things would be much simpler if God simply revealed himself to the world through miracles or some such. :confused:


#9

I know you will get lots of responses.

Here are my thoughts.

You can pray wherever you are. But it helps to be alone, in a quiet place. You can pray silently or out loud. Dialogue with God as you would with another person. This will help you “get out of your head,” so to speak. Ask Jesus and His Mother Mary to help you.

If you can, find a Catholic church with a Eucharistic chapel. Jesus is present here in a special way. You can sit and pray or be silent.

God does not require you to have faith on your own power. Again, this is very trippy, but HE’s the one that gives YOU faith. Faith is not a feeling, by the way, but it can affect the way you feel. Faith is belief in what we cannot absolutely prove by ourselves. It is believing what God speaks to us.

Can you find a priest or a Catholic friend to pray with you? Beat down the door if you have to! :slight_smile:

I will pray for you right now.


#10

You ask questions that have been asked for centuries. God could have come directly from heaven in all His glory and yet he chose to be born as a man to a woman from a nondescript village. Our faith decision must come from the heart as a gift of love and not of fear. Your merely asking these questions is in itself a form of prayer. Do read Mere Christianity. You can pray the sinner’s pray and ask God to come into your heart as your personal Lord and Saviour privately. Faith in God is not lived individually, but in community. Go directly to your closest Catholic parish and ask to speak to the parish priest for direction. He will help you with prayer and bringing you into the community of the faithful. He has been ordained for this purpose. If the parish has a Charismatic prayer group, its members will gladly lay hands and pray over you for the enlightment of the Holy Spirit.
Contemplative prayer, to which you allude, involves sitting quietly and allowing all thoughts to leave your mind. This can be done by repeating the words “love” or “God” when a stray thought returns. In contemplative prayer, you simply sit in the presence of God and allow him to hold you in His love. If you try this, you may become discouraged simply because you may not physically experience His presence.
In God there is no time. That is another question I cannot answer.
Ask God for the gift of Faith. He will give it do you. The actions mentioned in this post and the one immediately before it are simply ways for you to respond in faith to the gift God has already given you.


#11

“Seems I’ve heard about a river, from someone whose been/
and they tell me once you reach it, well you’ll never thirst again/
so I have to find the river, somehow my life depends on a river, holy river… I’m so thirsty…” - Chris Rice

Down to the waters come.


#12

Well guys, I prayed about the issue I am having. Nothing magical happened at that instant, but I will try to be patient. What should I do in the meantime? Someone mentioned praying to Mary for help. Why do Catholics pray to Mary? Shouldnt praying to God be enough? Thanks to everyone that replied to my post.


#13

It is Mary’s fiat, her yes to God that allowed the incarnation to come about. St. Louis de Montfort refers to Mary as a mold. When we allow ourselves to be conformed to Mary, we likewise become a mold able to hold Christ. Mary, whose name means ocean, is the acqueduct by which Christ entered the world.
He writes in True Devotion to Mary about how she presents our gifts to her Son for us. We may present an apple that we picked that is not exactly perfect. She will place this on a golden tray. This is how she presents our prayers to God.
In Scripture, the pregnant Mary visits your cousin Elizabeth. This encounter is considered the first miracle of grace when Elizabeth recognizes Mary as "the mother of my Lord."
At Cana, Jesus changed water in to wine at the request of His mother Mary, the first natural miracle.
At the Cross, Jesus gave Mary to John to care for as his mother, and in this act made her our mother as well.
You may also like reading The Secret of the Rosary.


#14

Prayer is not something one does once and then waits for an answer. Prayer is conversing (it may seem pretty one sided) with God every day and often. It doesn’t have to be fancy and long winded. It can just be silent thoughts about God and the desires of your heart.

Matthew 7:7-11"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread,or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

Good things do not necessarily mean riches and big homes, cured illness, etc. but could be. More likely the gift of Faith for example.


#15

You can’t, anymore than Peter could be 100% certain that he would not sink into the sea when walking to Christ, even despite Christ having walked on water himself.

Reason is not sufficient. It is not reason which causes such thirst.

The question, it seems to me, is what will quench your thirst.

You may want to consider why you are so worried about “clinging to religion out of fear and weakness”. Is it simply your pride which would be offended by doing so?


#16

In the my last post, I mentioned the rosary. You may be more comfortable beginning with the Angelus which is traditionally prayed at 6am, noon, and 6pm:

The angel of the Lord declared onto Mary.
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with You.
Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Behold the handmaid of the Lord
Let it be done to me according to your Word
Hail Mary…

And the Word became flesh
And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary…

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God that we may be worthy of the Promises of Christ.

Pour forth, O God, we beseech You, your grace into our hearts that we to whom the incarnation of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, was made known by the message of an angel may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection by the same Christ our Lord. Amen

As mentioned in the preceding posts, because ours is a relationship, it involves daily conversation, or prayer. As quickly as possible make an appointment with a priest at your nearest Catholic Church. You may begin RCIA classes to learn more about the Catholic faith without committing until your heart tells you it is right. You may attend Mass, but not receive communion, again to join your prayers with ours until you are ready for full initiation into the Church. Our faith is not merely an individual faith, but one of community. While your decision is made as an individual to follow Christ, we are here as your brothers and sisters to help you along the journey. Do not give up.


#17

I would say that God has answered your prayer. You just don’t know it. What you think is your idea to post on a Catholic forum is God drawing you to Himself. This is how God works much of the time. He’ll plant a little seed of an idea and lets you think it is yours. Then it is up to you. Do you nurture the seed? Or do you let it die? God is the perfect “gentleman”— He stands there knocking at your door, but He is not going to force His way in to have supper with you. So, it would seem you’ve done the first part, which is admit that you are thirsty for more than what the created world has to offer. You just need to keep seeking. God will help you along, but you need to do a lot of work yourself.

Your work is going to start by more than one or two prayers. Start saying prayers regularly. Even if you don’t know Who you are praying to, just get used to talking to God. Also, since faith and reason seem to be difficult for you, there are several good books that discuss that faith and reason do not have to be at odds. If your an intellectual, you can’t go wrong with the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (here is his masterpiece). But his work can be daunting. I think Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed may be helpful. Though they are not Catholic, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel are very good.

So, why Catholic? Well, if you are going to be a Christian, you might as well go with the Church that Christ founded. Some quick points: the Bible tells us that Christ founded a Church. He said to Peter “You are Peter and upon this rock I will establish My church”. Peter’s name used to be Simon, Jesus renamed him (renaming by God is rare and extremely significant) Peter, which means “rock”. Peter is the first “pope” of the Catholic Church–though the word “pope” came into use later. Jesus also said the gates of hell would not prevail upon His Church. Then there is a fascinating passage of the Gospel of John. In John 21:11 it is talking about Peter bringing the net of fishes to the Lord and though it was so heavy it did not tear. The net represents the Church, the fish are the believers. What is interesting is that the Greek word for “tear” that was used in the original text, translates to “schizo” which is the root of the word “schism”. So, it makes a strong case for saying that Peter’s Church is not in schism. Oh, and one more historical nugget… the first use of the words “Catholic Church” occur less than 100 years after Our Lord walked the earth. There is a letter from St. Ignatius dated approximately 107ad that says “just as where Jesus Christ is, so to is the Catholic Church”.

Orthodoxy, makes an interesting, but flawed (in my opinion) case against the Catholic Church, and I think history proves them incorrect, especially on the authority given to Peter. Though the roots of the Orthodox go back to the Apostles, I feel that Christ meant for His Church to be united in the “net” of Peter. Protestantism, in all its forms, does not have ancient roots. They go only back to the 1500’s. There are so many problems with protestantism that I don’t have the room on this post to say them all. However, when you read the works of the ancient Christians, their practices are very Catholic-- They believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine, they gave confessions, and they had a hierarchy (bishops, priests). These are not things that are part of many protestant churches. There are some that are a bit closer to the ancient teachings than others. So, for example the Lutherans believe in a form of “Real Presence” but most of the non-denominational churches do not. Nowadays, if you don’t like what your protestant church teaches, you can just go start your own and preach your interpretation of the Bible. That is why protestantism has fractured into thousands of churches. Catholic and Orthodox are much more stable in that regard.

I have about a bazillion links you could read through to help you along. I have links that support the Catholic church as the true Church, I have links with commentary on the Bible, links about teachings, you name it. Just let me know what you are most interested in. Take one issue at a time, if need be.

Blessings, Prayer Warrior

PS. Two links that are a must: One is the Catholic Catechism which teaches us what the Church really teaches (not the lies and propaganda that have been spread about the Church) and the other is a Catholic Bible. Here is a modern translation, here is an older translation. Happy reading!


#18

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