Friday, March 04, 2022



                                                   Doubt is not the same thing as a failure or refusal to believe. Mostly doubt comes when we are stressed, and satan, the father of lies, will exacerbate doubt to the point where we risk becoming deeply doubtful, unless we cry out to Jesus, like the man in the Gospel, “Lord I do believe, help my unbelief.” {cf. Mk. 9:24}

In and of itself doubt is part of human experience. If someone says to us on a clear that it will rain, the very sunniness of the say enables us to doubt it will rain.

Doubt is also part of the struggle to fully believe, as the Catechism teaches:  Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. [1]

For two decades I was deliberately doubtful and in bondage to spiritual blindness. By the grace of God I was granted a Damascus like Pauline experience, minus the external vision, and returned to a life of faith and am aware daily it is grace that sustains the gift of faith, and it is a gift, a most precious one.

Recent struggles with doubt have had more to do with trust than with weakening of faith, having been close to death twice in the past couple of years, the long hospital stays without being able to read or to pray as I wanted to, particularly by celebrating Holy Mass, caused me to over think my relationship with the Holy Trinity, Jesus in particular. Sometimes what feels like doubt is an over-working of the intellect.

We live in a time where sowers of doubt, in particular using the internet, have many people on edge, doubting a plethora of issues from the pandemic to faith, and trust, in our Loving God.

More an act of denial than doubt I was approaching fifty and tried to ignore the implication of aging.

I was on vacation at the Mother House and offered to help with the haying, and as was my practice each summer picked up a bale in each hand and went to toss them onto the wagon and was stunned when it was clear I no longer had the strength to toss them one handed, rather I had to pick up each bale with both hands in order to toss them.

Rereading recently a biography of St. John Newman, these lines from him which I could have written today! I am an old man, my hair white, my eyes sunk in, my hand so shrivelled, that I am sometimes quite startled to see it; but, when I shut my eyes and merely think. I can’t believe I am more than  25 years old, and smile to think how differently strangers must think of me from my own internal feelings. [2]

A common root cause of doubt; faith doubt, appropriate Gospel love of self and other, is constantly lopping in our minds and imagination past hurts which creates in the soul the darkness of unforgiveness and anger, and externally an inability to love, to forgive other.

Just as our ability to sin is not greater than Divine Mercy to forgive us, in imitation of and obedience to Christ nothing another human being does to us should be more impactful than our willingness to forgive.

Harbouring the poison of unforgiveness imprisons no one but ourselves.


As St. Mother Theresa teaches: Jesus taught us when He taught us to say the Our Father. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”, and this is for us life. This is the joy of loving. When you come to that part in the Our Father, stop and ask yourself, “Is it true what I am saying?”  He said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart” [Mt.11:19] You cannot be meek, you cannot be humble, if you don’t forgive.”  [3]

Another aspect is this: we end up tying ourselves emotionally/spiritually into the proverbial Gordian Knot which we cannot unravel on our own. Grace is needed, and if we doubt Divine Mercy and grace then we need to confess the sin of unforgiveness, and the knot will be united, the poison drained out of us.

The cry for Divine Mercy, the grace for a forgiving heart, the dispersal from hounding us of evil spirits of unforgiveness, for such creatures in their diabolical attacks are by their very nature unforgiving creatures, the embracing of the commandment that we love one another as Jesus loves us, and His love is consoling fire and light of mercy, all this is found in the Our Father and the Jesus Prayer [Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner], as well as in sacramental confession and frequent reception of Jesus into our being in Holy Communion. As Hierotheos powerfully puts it: Just as smoke is dispersed in the air, so evil thoughts are dispersed by the invocation of the Name of Christ. [4]

“ Pray for the grace. Forgiveness doesn’t just come over night, especially forgiveness for someone who commits a heinous act against someone you love. I understand that. But you must try. Spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Pray to Jesus for the grace to forgive this man. Pray for his soul. Evie remained quiet. In the rational part of her mind, she knew Fr. Arthur spoke the truth. “ [5]

Emotionally, spiritually it can be an even more intense struggle, therefore a heroic act of charity, to forgive if we ourselves have been the victim of any form of abuse, which is the worst of betrayals. Jesus Himself was abused unto death and betrayed unto death, that we might have the grace to forgive.

We can draw comfort from these words of St. Faustina, disciple of Divine Mercy: I now see that Jesus will not leave in doubt any soul that loves Him sincerely. Jesus wants the soul that is in close communion with Him to be filled with peace, despite sufferings and adversities. [6]

No matter how we might be ’feeling’, love and faith are a choice, an act of the will, expressed in deeds, thus this prayer from St. Faustina: Jesus, Eternal Light, enlighten my mind, strengthen my will, inflame my heart and be with me as You have promised, for without You I am nothing. You know, Jesus, how weak I am. I do not need to tell You this, for You Yourself know perfectly well how wretched I am. It is in You that all my strength lies. [7]

A friend of Ukrainian ancestry told me yesterday he wishes someone would ‘take out’, i.e. kill Putin, we cannot wish such a thing as Christians. Like many people today, given the extreme stress of possibly the first major war in Europe since 1945, the stress of the pandemic, the swamp of misinformation assailing everyone, that we experience doubt or discouragement, or anger we are so worn out now in the third year of restrictions and disruption of what was ‘normal life’, we need to hear and take into our hearts the soothing and healing voice of Christ and in the darkness of these days, not unlike 1939 when Putin’s predecessor Hilter was causing fear of war throughout Europe, we need light, the light of Christ, to trust providence and find our way in this darkness.

St. Luke in his sixth chapter and St. Matthew in his fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of their accounts of the Holy Gospel, place before us the Beatitudes and many of Jesus’ teachings on how to live lives that are peaceful, holy and without sin. This is trusting in and cooperating with the gift of providence: Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going.” Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. the prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid. [8]

Blessed are the poor. We are all poor, in spirit, that is in the stark reality of our inability to protect ourselves from everything and everyone, people run red lights, people lie and gossip about us, governments in democratic countries behind the cover of the pandemic overreach, all this increases stress and for many angry frustration. Christ before us was lied and gossiped about, was illegally arrested, tortured, crucified for us and our redemption because of his personal love for each of us.

The times we live in are the times we have the grace for and to endure and these times are also the cross we are asked each day to take up as our own and follow Jesus, it is the via dolorosa of history through which we follow Him.

In the Beatitudes something of celestial grandeurs breaks through. They are no mere formulas of superior ethics, but tidings of sacred and supreme reality’s entry into the world. They are the fanfare to that which St. Paul refers in the eighth chapter of his Roman Epistle when he speaks of the growing glory of the children of God, and what the last chapters of the Apocalypse suggest in the reference to the new heaven and the new earth……..[9]

At times like this the teachings of Jesus may well strike us either as unreasonable, or beyond our strength.….Christ says: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt.19;26) He shows that God not only demands this of us, but that he gives us his own understanding, his own strength, thus enabling us to accomplish his demands. We must accept this on faith. When the mind cries: But that is impossible! Faith replies: It is possible! Our faith is “the victory that overcomes the world”. (1 John 5:4) Every day will close with the realization we have failed. Ruefully we must place our failure at the feet of our Maker and begin again in the indomitable faith that we will succeed., because God himself gives us both the necessary will and the appointed way (Phil.2:13). [10]

We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. [2 Cor. 4: 7-10]

 There in lives our lived faith and hope. As St. Julian of Norwich says: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

All Italics are mine

[1]  # 2088

[2]JOHN HENRY NEWMAN by Ian Kerr,p.522; Oxford University Press, 2009

[3] A CALL TO MERCY, MOTHER TERESA, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC; p. 156; 2016, Image Books.

[4] ORTHODOX PSYCHOTHERAPY; BY Hierotheos, bishop of Nafpaktos; Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1995

[5]WHERE ANGELS PASS, by Ellen Gable, pp. 288-289; Full Quiver Publishing, 2021

[6] DIARY of St. Faustina; p. 202; Marians of the Immaculate Conception, 2003

[7] op. cit. p. 214

[8]  para. 1806

[10] THE LORD, Romano Guardini, pp. 73 & 75; Henry Regency Company 1954

© 2022 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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