Doubting your faith
Fr. Jim, Can you help me deal with doubts that sometimes pop into my mind about our Catholic faith? I always feel uneasy. Louise
I’m more than happy to help you because you are surely not the only one who, from time to time, struggles, “With doubts that sometimes pop into my mind.” Let me reassure you that it is important to understand that these “popup doubts” in no way are true doubts about your faith. In fact they are normal and indeed tell me that you are actually an intelligent person of faith. Our faith is filled with mystery. But we have to remember the best definition of what a mystery is: “It is not that about which we know nothing. Rather it is just that about which we don’t know EVERYTHING.”
And it is the nature of our mind to be constantly busy, thinking, figuring out, weighing alternatives, questioning and yes, even doubting. That’s what the mind does ... that’s how God made our minds and intellects. We simply want to know more and more as we go through life and with knowing comes questioning and wonderment.
Now, I’m assuming from your question, you are fearful of having doubts about your faith. And let’s face it, our faith covers a lot of territory. And much of what our faith is concerned with is embracing in trust the very mysteries of God, of Jesus, of creation, of life and of judgment. And we may think that if we are true believers, we would never have any questions or doubts. Not true! In fact asking questions or talking about a doubt is just a sign that we are, in fact, thinking and acting as mature adults.
Doubts such as: “Is that host really Jesus?” or “Can I be sure my past sins are forgiven?” are not uncommon doubts at all. When such thoughts come, try to understand what is going on inside you. It is just normal questioning and wonderment. But it is also an opportunity to say to the Lord, “Yes, I believe and I trust. You are mine and I am yours and that is all that matters.”
Understanding the loving and good God who made us and Jesus who died for us can really give a tremendous sense of confidence and reassurance. God never wants us to fear him because there is nothing to fear. Doubts, fearful thoughts are just a reminder of our wounded humanity and that God is always loving us.
May God bless you,
Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM