Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Sunday Word

Some of us stumble in our life of faith, as did Thomas, because the empirical evidence is somewhat lacking. There is no proof for the existence of God, and there’s a lot that happens in this world that would seem to argue against a loving and powerful God. Thomas said he would remain an unbeliever. What do you say?

Others grab the pacifier of cultural respectability. Any faith journey that calls for a life of radical discipleship, a life that pits us against the world, that risks the ridicule of the chattering classes is not a life for us. We want our faith to be neat, clean, tidy, respectable and non-confrontational.

Some of us move on steadily in a life of faith, while for others faith is a lifelong struggle with doubt. Our neighbors may speak of an access to faith that seems unassailable, but we find ourself unconvinced, skeptical, saying the words but doubting their truth. Our academic training, professional expertise and life experience conspire to demand something solid to counter the doubt that refuses to go away.

The fact is, if we care enough to wonder, to question, to struggle for an authentic profession of faith, we may well be on the path to a life grounded in honest reliance upon God alone. Because for many, doubt may be the necessary step on the road to faith. Take Dorothy Day, for example.

Dorothy Day, the late founder of the Catholic Worker, described her inability to pray as she was coming to faith. Whenever she knelt, she would be overcome by doubt and shame — “Do I really believe? Whom am I praying to?” “Is prayer for the lonely and religion for the weak?”

But once while walking to the village to get her mail, she found herself praying again, this time out of a deep sense of thankfulness. Encouraged, she continued on, against her doubts. No matter how dull the day, how long the walk seemed or how sluggish she felt at the beginning, the words of thanksgiving that she prayed began slowly to move into her heart and shape her conscience in faith. She came to faith through doubt and eventually gave up her doubts as freely as a child drops her pacifier.