Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taboos of Spiritual Lives

I'm wondering why most of us who write posts that are inherently religious in subject matter always write material that seems to describe the assertions of our Catholic tradition with unwavering faith and certitude. Do any of you ever doubt? Are most of us walking around in a state of perpetual ecstasy? Perhaps I'm wrong, but sharing those things that make our spiritual life falter might be just as therapeutic as visiting a shrink or a top-notch theologian.

I've been in blogosphere now for a few years and not once (to my recollection) has anyone openly written about any nagging ideas or circumstances that may have lead to a moment(s) where you question profoundly the existence of God. I wrote about some of my own moments of incredulity way back when I first started this blog, but never have I seen a similar attempt on behalf of other bloggers. Yes, I've read plenty of conversion stories that speak of pre-conversion misconduct and conscienceless ways of living, but one might come to the conclusion that after the conversion all was peachy and fab. Why? Is showing or sharing with others any weaknesses (not sinfulness) in our faith tantamount to being an exhibitionist? Or, worse yet, would a divulgement of that sort destroy our credibility in such a way that the next post we write about Christmas or the risen Christ would have absolutely no merit?

Keep in mind that I'm not saying one should go public with his or her sinfulness so that everyone gets a chance to know about it. I'm referring to those thoughts that off and on plague the religious and may cause him or her to question the validity of their faith.

Even St. Thérèse de Lisieux (and Mother Teresa) had their moments. I'll try to find the quote of St. Thérèse where she expressed a profound moment of disbelief.


And here it is: "I get tired of the darkness all around me and try to refresh my jaded spirits with the thoughts of that bright country where my hopes lie; and what happens? It is a worse torment than ever; the darkness itself seems to borrow, from the sinners who live in it, the gift of speech. I hear its mocking accents; 'It's all a dream, this talk of heavenly country...Death will make nonsense of your hopes; it will only mean a night darker than ever, the night of mere non-existence.'"

I love St. Therese. Here is someone of great saintliness experiencing tremors in here spiritual foundations. It's of little wonder she's a Doctor of the Church. Pray for me and for all of us, Little Flower.


Shirley said...

Tom, speaking only for myself, I have my moments of spiritual dryness, when all seems superfluous, but fortunately they are fleeting,and I think, "Jesus, I trust in you" - and my doubts are laid to rest. It's not the moments of doubt that are important to me , but the deep and heartfelt certainty that always comes back, that my love of God is stronger than any discord that the king of lies can sow; despair is Satan's end game, but it fades into oblivion when I look at the image of Jesus crucified. Which is why it isn't worthy of posting about; I cannot "question profoundly the existence of God" when I love Him so much. Even the moments when I feel abandoned, sad, and weighed down by the world aren't enough to make me think that there is no God. For He suffered much more than I ever will, and He did it for me. I am humbled.

Tom in Vegas said...


Beautifully said!! But it's also worth noting that people of great faith have experienced just that- doubt over the existence of God. Now obviously they were NOT guided by that sporadic condition, nor is it the note they ended their lives with. It was, however, a real part of their maturing process (towards perfection).

The point I'm trying to make here - perhaps indirectly - is that discussing some of these "doubts" with people of faith (not the irreligious) might actually be a good thing.

Shirley said...

I think the saints get hit the hardest with temptations against their faith, God seems to test them the most. It has been said that He never gives us more than we can handle, so maybe that is why a weak person like me doesn't have the great soul searching doubts that some of the saints suffered.
You may be right that it is good to discuss this, but discussing with a spiritual advisor would likely bear the most fruit. If a person is fortunate enough to have a spiritual advisor!

Adrienne said...

I never doubt the existence of God. I often question what is going on in the Catholic Church. There are Sundays when it is very hard to attend Mass.

A decent spiritual advisor would be a help. Try and find one!

Tracy said...

I too have had moments of spiritual dryness, but never to the point of doubting the existence of God, God has shown himself to me in so many amazing ways in my life. But, that doesn't mean I don't question him on many things, I trust that in his wisdom he knows what is right for me, but I don't have a problem letting him know that my human side is having a great deal of trouble understanding the path he has chosen for me:-)

Tom in Vegas said...

Shirley and Untie A-

Saints definitely had their work cut out for them, but it was the seemingly insurmountable challenges that contributed to their salvation. And now how are they after their daeth? Alive and well thank you very much. And yes, Shirley, I, too, am weak (perhaps closer to pathetic than anything else).

I'm not in any danger of losing my faith, but I think a spiritual advisory would be a valuable "asset" in the lives of anyone who takes their faith seriously. I will admit this as well: I think about God CONSTANTLY. It's impossible for me to get out of bed and avoid saturating my mind with Him and the search for Him.


Do you recall the name of your first blog? Tracy's Simple Life. And how true that is! I've always regarded you as someone who is uncomplicated, profoundly benevolent and devout, never allowing yourself to be entangled in thoughts that would cause you to question your faith or God's existence. God bless you. May the Lord continue to shepherd you and your family through His path:0)

Tom in Vegas said...

I meant to say "death" and "spiritual "adviser." I was typing rather fast, like I am now.

BettyDuffy said...

Since you asked...Here are my doubts. And I have more where those came from.

Terry Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela M. said...

I have never doubted God's existence since I first became conscious of Him when I was about 10 or 11. However...I promised my son (who is serving in Af'stan) that I would pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for him twice a day and

I have NO idea why. I feel like my brain turns to dust when I want to start. In fact, this should be the time of my life when I pray the most and all I can say is "God, please keep my boy safe."

Tom in Vegas said...


"God, please keep my boy safe."

Did you ever consider the possibility that alone is all the prayer you needed to say? Since I spoke of St. Therese and you speak of your inability to pray (I suffer from the same thing, too), I read somewhere the Little Flower used to fall asleep praying her Rosary. Can you believe it?? Here innocence and simplicity are STILL remarkable.

Angela M. said...

How funny you should mention St. Therese. I started reading Story of a Sould last night but did not read your response to me until now! I also fall asleep praying the Rosary. Unfortunately my brain is "conditioned" to "shut off" when I pray the Rosary now - even in the daytime! Last night I was going to pray it, held my rosary in my hand and woke up at 3:30AM not having prayed a word of it. I am sure my Guardian Angel prayed it for me. Which reminds me - I need to send him to Afghanistan for the night!

Oh - and which saint said that our groans are prayer enough?