Not sure if I've ever had faith


#1

I guess it’s about time that I ask for help. Let me start of by saying that I try to live the Catholic faith to the best of my ability - I go to Church/Confession, I study apologetics, I listen to Catholic Answers every day, etc.

I’ve tried to be patient, but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I don’t think I’m exaggerating things when I say I’ve never really felt my faith. I know we’re not supposed to get warm fuzzies, but I guess I’m just trying to emphasize the point that, while I intellectually accept all that the Church teaches, I can’t say that I know it to be true in my heart. I don’t doubt the Church’s authority, but I’m not sure if I’ve never been free of doubts on any Christian doctrine.

I want to know that God is there, but I always find myself think that maybe He isn’t. I want to believe that the Saints hear my prayers, but part of me is always telling me that they don’t. I want to experience the graces that Jesus gives in the Eucharist, but I sit in silent contemplation, waiting to feel a peace that never comes over me. I know doubts are normal, but this has been going on for years now.

Is this something that everyone goes through? I’m finding it very tough to keep going at this point. I know Jesus said that those who do not see and yet still believe are to be blessed, but I don’t think that any more reading will give me the faith that I’m looking for.

Any words of wisdom?


#2

Dear mgsk,

You’re in good company. Mother Teresa of Calcutta experienced what you did, a dark night of the soul, lasting for nearly 50 years. Here’s a link to an article on it, there’s also a book:

catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0105.htm

I bring up the above article and mention the related book not in order to convince you of anything, but to show you that you’re not alone.

EDIT: The book is called “Come Be My Light.”

amazon.com/Mother-Teresa-Private-Writings-Calcutta/dp/0385520379

You are being loyal to Christ and His Church, even without emotional feelings of validation. You are choosing to love.

I admire you.

God bless you.

:blessyou:

~~ the phoenix


#3

Faith is a gift.

Remember the words “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”


#4

Thank you for the link to that article, The Phoenix - I can’t tell you how closely her words resemble my situation. I’m no Mother Theresa, but I find myself experiencing the same consuming emptiness.

Kage, I do try to remind myself of that whenever I remember, but I guess it’s useless on my part to expect this gift before God is ready to give it to me. I just pray that He doesn’t wait too long.

Is it sad that even great historic events like those at Fatima (not to mention the Gospel) don’t help to reassure me? Every time I read from the Gospel and see the zeal and faith that the Apostles had, my heart aches for even a fragment of that. The radical conversion stories in Schoeman’s “Honey From the Rock” should be enough to convince even unbelievers, but all they do is make me wish that the Holy Spirit would overcome me like that.

All in good time - God’s time. Please keep me in your prayers.


#5

While I was just reflecting the OP… something clicked inside my mind… It’s similar to what I told my deacon about becoming Catholic… “Don’t rush the journey… enjoy the scenery.” And he agreed…

The same applies to you… Don’t worry about the destination and the fact that you feel you’re losing your faith or never had it, but enjoy that God is there even when you don’t feel Him and reminisce on His promises and the Blessed Mother and saints.


#6

This shows that you love God and are in the state of grace.

I’ve tried to be patient, but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I don’t think I’m exaggerating things when I say I’ve never really felt my faith. I know we’re not supposed to get warm fuzzies, but I guess I’m just trying to emphasize the point that, while I intellectually accept all that the Church teaches, I can’t say that I know it to be true in my heart. I don’t doubt the Church’s authority, but I’m not sure if I’ve never been free of doubts on any Christian doctrine.

intellectually accepting what the Church teaches is an act of faith. You do have faith therefore. By heart, I guess you mean feelings, which have nothing to do with faith. In fact, the more feelings you rely on the less pure is your faith.

I want to know that God is there, but I always find myself think that maybe He isn’t. I want to believe that the Saints hear my prayers, but part of me is always telling me that they don’t. I want to experience the graces that Jesus gives in the Eucharist, but I sit in silent contemplation, waiting to feel a peace that never comes over me. I know doubts are normal, but this has been going on for years now.

Again, faith is not about feelings. Everyone has doubts and for years. If we didn’t have doubts we wouldn’t be believing without seeing, which is what faith is; we would in fact be seeing, which is something reserved for the Beatific Vision.

Is this something that everyone goes through? I’m finding it very tough to keep going at this point. I know Jesus said that those who do not see and yet still believe are to be blessed, but I don’t think that any more reading will give me the faith that I’m looking for.

Yes, everyone goes through it to varying degrees. Sorry to disagree with you, but from what you have written, you **do **have faith. :slight_smile:


#7

my reply above might have been a bit curt and simplistic, sorry for that. I know that what you are going through is hard. I too get little in the way of feelings. I feel calm, but lack a sense of joy and exultation in my faith.

It sounds to me from what you have written that you love God a great deal and that He is purging you for union with Him in pure faith. I am guessing that it is because of your great love of God that you have been able to put up with the dryness for so long. That is a cause for gladness. St John of the Cross speaks of it in depth. God bless you and I will pray for you. :slight_smile:


#8

In the link provided by The Phoenix, it is important to pay close attention to this statement:

In John’s Dark Night of the Soul, for instance, the initial exhilaration of conversion is followed by a “dark night of the senses” that is “bitter and terrible to taste.”

Mother Teresa had many mystical encounters with Christ before the long dark night. It is detailed in the book, Come be my Light. Our rosary should teach us also the progression of our own paschal mystery: first, the joyful mysteries, followed by the sorrowful, prior to partaking of the glorious.

You might enjoy reading the book Hinds Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. Much Afraid, the heroine, had an intense desire to follow the Shepherd to the High Places. However, the journey was full of detours that seemingly led away from the high places which her heart desired. She had many defects that were purified all along the way. Finally, the Shepherd brought her to her goal, as He promised her. In her glorious state, she received a new name called “Grace and Glory” and an ardent zeal and love to bring the Shepherd to those in her village.

Note, it was not a misplaced zeal, but one that was born out of her many trials and imbued with very patient love for the weaknesses of others.

Ask the Holy Spirit to flood you with desire to become all that He intended you to be and bring you to the High Places of virtue. Implore Him to show you where you may be failing to follow, through your human weakness.

Carole


#9

Nick - no apology necessary. I think I needed to hear that…I never stopped to think what gave me the assurance to believe that, at least intellectually, the Church proclaims the Truth. The emptiness is still there, but reflecting on that thought has been helpful.

I guess if I had to reduce it to one thing that is holding me back, it would be fear. Fear that I’m living a lie - that may sound extreme, but it is the best I can do to put into words what I’m feeling (something I don’t get to talk about much anyways).

And Carole, thanks for those thoughts. I remember the joy I felt when God called me back to the Church (I never actually left, but I didn’t take things seriously for a while). I could literally feel His presence everywhere I went, at least in my heart. This dark night, if that’s what it is, is really disheartening - but the idea that others have gone through it at least gives me hope that the same could happen for me.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond everyone.

Edit: It turns out I have a copy of “The Dark Night of the Soul” sitting on my bookshelf. I’ve never read it, but I think now would be as good a time as any.


#10

I just wanted to share something that St. John of the Cross wrote in this book:

When speaking of those who suffer from spiritual gluttony, he said: “Such persons expend all their effort in seeking spiritual pleasure and consolation; they never tire, therefore, of reading books; and they begin, now one meditation, now another, in their pursuit of this pleasure which they desire to experience in the things of God. But God, very justly, wisely and lovingly, denies it to them, for otherwise their spiritual gluttony and inordinate appetite would breed innumerable evils. It is, therefore, very fitting that they should enter into the dark night, whereof we shall speak, that they may be purged from this childishness.”

I feel like he’s writing this for me (and I think I need the kick in the butt that his to-the-point writing style is giving me). This is some really amazing stuff. Thank you God.


#11

No words of wisdom, but here’s how I see it. It’s a choice. We make that choice everyday, whether to believe or not believe, whether we feel His presence or not, whether we get the “warm fuzzies” or sit in darkness. Why do we make the choice to believe? That to me is the mystery of faith. I’ve had my own share of doubts, but with the grace of God, I’m holding firm to my choice to be a follower of Jesus. It’s not easy, for it wasn’t meant to be easy; it’s a heavy cross to carry, yet the rewards make it worthwhile. I find myself sometimes asking the question whether I truly believe, and I make the choice to say yes.

This may not be the answer you were looking for, but I hope it helps. God bless you!


#12

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