Sunday, 10 June 2012

Believing with eyes closed

Sister Georgina came to see Father Ignatius in his office. She was a nun living in the Convent nearby and whilst it was not unusual for the nuns to visit the Parish House from time to time this visit was somewhat formal. The nun had phoned the priest that morning and asked him for an appointment.

“Hello Sister … come in … come in …” said the kindly priest, “would you like some coffee … or some tea perhaps!”

“No thank you Father …” she said somewhat shyly as she sat down.

“You know you don’t need to phone to make an appointment …” he said as he closed the door and sat at his desk, “just pop in anytime …”

“Well Father … I wanted to make sure you were available … and we would not be disturbed.” She said. “The thing is … I’m finding it very hard believing …”

“Are you having doubts about your Faith Sister?” Father Ignatius asked gently and soothingly.

“No … no … it’s not that. I believe in God and Jesus and the Trinity …” she hesitated, “Can someone be selective in their beliefs?”

“Well Georgina …” he smiled, “it depends on what one is selective about … I do have my doubts about some of the changes we’re making as a Church … What is troubling you exactly?”

“Well Father …”

“Let’s dispense with the formalities for now …” he interrupted.

“Well …” she hesitated again, “for some time now I’ve had great difficulty in believing in the true presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.

“I can’t quite explain it. Did Christ in the Last Supper ask us to celebrate Communion in His memory … or is it really His flesh and blood? And why would He want us to eat and drink His very Being?”

“It is one of our fundamental beliefs as a Church,” said the priest calmly, “one that has been tested and debated for centuries. You’ve no doubt heard of the Eucharistic Miracle at Lanciano?”

“Yes Father … but how can I make myself believe?” she replied, “I could shut my eyes tightly and convince myself to believe … but at the end of the day my mind says differently.

“I have no difficulty in believing the existence of God … I accept that as fact. I believe in Christ’s Virgin birth, His resurrection, the Holy Spirit and so on … Somehow these beliefs cause me no difficulties and they are part of my being … they are me and have been me for sometime.

“And I suppose that at some stage I must have believed in the Eucharist too. How could I not have?

“I became a nun … studied for years and took on my vocation … and all was well … Yet now, it’s this one aspect of my Faith that I find difficulty with.”

The priest paused for a while and said a silent prayer before going on.

“We’ve all had our moments of doubts and our little stumbles every now and then …” he said.

“It’s our human nature coming to the fore. We’re programmed to think, to analyze … to ask questions and yes … to doubt too.

“It’s what some people call Free Will … and I’m sure you’ve heard the many debates about that and God’s pre-destination of our lives!”

She smiled as he continued.

“God does not want us to work hard at our beliefs. He does not want us to shut our eyes tightly and convince ourselves to believe in this or in that.

“He understands our struggles between total acceptance and the natural desire to examine and evaluate what we’re told to believe.

“He did make us after all … so He knows what makes us tick and how the cogs in our heads constantly turn.

“What God asks of us is to believe like a child. A child never questions the veracity of what he’s told … he just accepts it.

“There’s no need to believe with eyes tightly shut.

“Just accept … like a child. Trust him … like a child. Love Him … like a child.

“And when your mind questions … as it certainly will … just say … Get behind me Satan.

“Look up at God and pray … I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.”

She left with a much lighter heart and a heavy weight off her shoulders.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you, Victor. I needed this today. Please pray for me. I am struggling with doubts, fear, and anxiety right now. I really feel I'm coming unglued. But I know God loves me and that he has his hand on me. I want his will for my life more than anything. Even if it's scary.

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  2. Dear Sarah,

    Rest assured that I am praying for you right now; and so is everyone reading this post. We all have times of great difficulties, times of doubts and confusion when we no longer know what is real and what isn't. Yes God is there, right beside us, and ready to help. All we have to do is reach out.

    I pray to Him to be with you and comfort you at these times of anxiety for you.

    May He bless you always.

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  3. Child like faith really does sum it up, Victor. Although not always easy, the saints are a great example of this. Thanks for more words of wisdom from Fr. I.
    Prayers for you Sarah.
    God bless, Victor.

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  4. Yes Karinann, child like Faith can be difficult at times. I try to believe and my brain tries to reason something different.

    Thank you for your visit. I visit your Blog but it is not always easy to comment.

    God bless you Karinann.

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  5. Thank you Victor and Karinann. I am feeling a bit better. These words helped: "We all have times of great difficulties, times of doubts and confusion when we no longer know what is real and what isn't." That's exactly what I've been feeling, that I can't tell what is real. The one thing I do know is real is God's love for me. I pray that I can wrap the "belt of truth" around my waist to hold everything together. (Eph 6)

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  6. Thank you Sarah.

    The Lord is but a prayer away. And He loves you always.

    Still praying for you.

    May God bless you and your family always.

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  7. Another timely and perfectly summed up story Victor.

    I think child-like faith is actually easier than adult-like faith sometimes. When one just accepts something like a child - because they believe it is God's word - it is much less effort than trying to use human logic and reason where it doesn't apply.

    God Bless.

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  8. Thank you Michael.

    I so agree. It is much less effort to believe like a child; and not to try to understand.

    God bless you, Michael.

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  9. Victor,

    When I was a new Catholic I found many things hard to understand and believe in. In the end, I stopped worrying about my doubts. I had already come so far and accepted so much. I thought that with time and prayer, I would come to believe in EVERYTHING that the Catholic Church holds to be true. I already loved the Faith. I left 'the minor details' to God and gradually all my remaining doubts fell away.

    This is a wonderful post for Corpus Christi. Thank you!

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  10. Thank you Sue.

    As a lifelong Catholic, I still have my struggles. It's a question of believing (with eyes shut tightly) and not trying to understand and reason what I believe in.

    Thank you for your encouragement, Sue.

    God bless you.

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  11. You've explained this so beautifully, Victor:-)

    It was belief in the Real Presence that triggered my conversion - thanks to Sue and all her prayers and efforts. I always feel excitement to think of Lanciano and other Eucharistic miracles - doesn't it fill you with awe?!

    Thank you for such an uplifting post, Victor.
    God bless:-)

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  12. Thank you Vicky,

    Yes ... it fills me with awe, but also at times with confusion as my mind struggles to understand what is not understandable.

    I thank you and value your support when writing such difficult posts.

    God bless you.

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  13. We all stumble with doubts at times. I like how Fr. Ignatius explains to just believe like a child. We often do, get in the way of ourselves, trying to analyze the how's and the why's. That is not what God has asked us to do.

    Thank you Victor for linking up at the Feast of the Sacred Heart!

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  14. You're right Noreen. We stumble with doubts because our grown-up minds are programmed to question and reason rather than believe without understanding.

    God bless.

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  15. This is a beautiful story, Victor! Thank you!

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  16. Thanx Mary for your encouragement and support.

    God bless you.

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