c) Faith, Mystery, and Doubt

Faith jesus off the cross being with meQuotes At-A-Glance: Faith, Mystery, and Doubt

(See Further Down the Page for the Full Quotes.)

  1. When Jesus talks about faith, he means first of all to trust unreservedly that you are loved by God. (Henri Nouwen)
  2. It’s not faith if you understand everything; we don’t! (Fr Bob Lewis)
  3. Faith is walking with Christ…. Faith will always appear as a contradiction to the ‘world’. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  4. Faith is a challenge. Faith is a great risk. And, if you give yourself to it, faith is a wonderful adventure. (Fr Eamon Devlin)
  5. The proof is in the practice. (Fr Eamon Devlin)
  6. Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary,
    so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. (Pope Francis)
  7. The phrase “I believe” could here be literally translated by “I hand myself over to”, “I assent to”. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  8. No one can prove that God exists. If we could prove it, why would we need faith? Faith is believing in what cannot be proved, but which we choose to accept. (Sr Wendy Beckett)
  9. Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods…. Unless you teach your moods “where they get off”, you can never be a sound Christian. (CS Lewis)
  10. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe.
    Belief… must be fed.
    And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument?
    Do not most people simply drift away? (CS Lewis)
  11. You cannot believe in a God who loves you unless you first love yourself. (Fr Peter McVerry)
  12. Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  13. Truth, according to the Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship. As such each one of us receives the truth and expresses it from within, that is to say, according to one’s own circumstances, culture and situation in life, etc…. it comes to us always and only as a way and a life. Did not Jesus himself say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life?” (Pope Francis)
  14. Doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their worlds, could become the avenue of communication. It prevents both from enjoying complete self-satisfaction; it opens up the believer to the doubter and the doubter to the believer. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  15. All those doubts are still there, but they are offset by those moments when you realise that God is completely present. Those times are short, but they are very real. (Fr Brian Lennon)
  16. The mystery we live in is huge and the more we grasp the magnitude of the cosmic and spiritual world, the more we grasp too how ineffable is God. God truly is beyond us, beyond language, beyond imagination, and even beyond feeling. We can know God, but can never understand God. And so we must be more humble. (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  17. Doubt is often an excellent thing. Credulity is infantile: we all have to weigh evidence and make up our minds, and until we do, there is honest doubt, surely. (Sr Wendy Beckett)
  18. Faith, like love, needs to be sustained through ritual, through ritual acts that let our commitment and our action say what we cannot always say in our words and our feelings. And our faith tradition provides these rituals for us: reading the scriptures, participating in the Eucharist, praying the office of the church, praying the rosary, praying from various kinds of prayer books, sitting in silent centering prayer, and, most important of all, simply showing up regularly for church. (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  19. And since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  20. Loss of faith is a disease that begins with the paralysis of the knees! (Fr Sean O’Sullivan)
  21. Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first steps. (Martin Luther King)
  22. Faith is not something you achieve. If you try to nail it down, it gets up and walks away with the nail.
    Faith works this way: Some days you walk on water, other days you sink like a stone.
    You live with a deep secret, the poet Rumi says, that sometimes you know, and then not, and then know again. (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  23. I have been horrified to find people who call themselves Catholics having so poor an understanding of what the Church actually teaches. We today are in a position, if we take the trouble, to understand the Gospels as never before. (Sr Wendy Beckett)
  24. Anyone who says they wish they could believe but have not been given the gift of faith misunderstands the nature of faith. It is indeed a gift and God holds it out to everyone…. If you want faith, ask for it. God gladly gives it.
    Then, with this newborn faith, you can begin the long and lovely process of understanding what it is to which you have committed yourself. You read, you pray, you say with the desperate man in the gospel, ‘I believe, help my unbelief’. (Sr Wendy Beckett)
  25. The Lord doesn’t impose faith. He invites it. (Fr Eamon Devlin)
  26. Bad things happen, sometimes for no apparent reason. We have to accept them and grow through them and never let them damage us. They will wound us, yes, but damage is another matter, and that is precisely what prayer guards against. (Sr Wendy Beckett)
  27. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But… if you want to get any further, you must use the map. (CS Lewis)
  28. We live in a post-Christian situation within which the culture no longer carries the faith for us… (We live in) an age which is agnostic, pluralistic, secular, seductive, and distracting. Thus, to be a believer today is to live in a certain moral loneliness. (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  29. Acting on our faith increases our faith. And it serves as a magnet for other people. (Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap)
  30. The Works of Mercy are a wonderful stimulus to our growth in faith as well as love. Our faith is taxed to the utmost and so grows through this strain put upon it. It is pruned again and again, and springs up bearing much fruit. (Dorothy Day)
  31. We must remember that faith, like love, is an act of the will, an act of preference. (Dorothy Day)
  32. The majority of (a catechism class) asked the same question: ‘How can you see Christ in people?’ And we only say: It is an act of faith, constantly repeated. It is an act of love, resulting from an act of faith. It is an act of hope, too, that we can awaken these same acts in their hearts, too. (Dorothy Day)
  33. During the Second Vatican Council it was again affirmed: ‘In the depths of his conscience man detects a law… man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man. According to it he will be judged.’
    One must follow one’s own conscience first before all authority, and of course one must inform one’s conscience. But one must follow one’s conscience still, even if it is an ill-informed one. (Dorothy Day)

Quotes in Full:
Faith, Mystery, and Doubt

“When Jesus talks about faith, he means first of all to trust unreservedly that you are loved by God.”

Henri Nouwen

“Faith is helpless attraction to the divine.”

John O’Donohue, interview

“It’s not faith if you understand everything; we don’t!”

— Fr Bob Lewis, ewtn.com radio

“Somebody once said faith is the ability to live life based on its better moments.”

— Msgr Richard Moran, Lough Derg

“Faith is walking with Christ…. Faith will always appear as a contradiction to the ‘world’.”

—Pope Benedict XVI in his first book as Pope: ‘Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration’, 2007

“Faith is a challenge. Faith is a great risk. And, if you give yourself to it, faith is a wonderful adventure…. The proof is in the practice.”

— Fr Eamon Devlin, CM, sermon at a funeral, St Peter’s Church, Phibsboro, Dublin; 30th December 2013

“Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh

with the humility and courage of Mary,
so that he can continue to dwell in our midst.
It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor;
our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters;
our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard;
our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel;
and especially our hearts,
to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will.”

— Pope Francis I, on the day he formally entrusted the world to Mary, 14th October 2013, at a vigil in St Peter’s Square, as reported by the Catholic News Service (sourced 2nd November 2013)

“Faith is located in the act of conversion, in the turn of one’s being from worship of the visible and practicable to trust in the invisible. The phrase “I believe” could here be literally translated by “I hand myself over to”, “I assent to”. In the sense of the Creed, and by origin, faith is not a recitation of doctrines… to use Heidegger’s language, one could say that it signifies an “about-turn” by the whole person that from then on constantly structures one’s existence.”

— Pope Benedict XVI, when he was not yet Pope but was Cardinal Ratzinger, in his 1969 book “Introduction to Christianity”, on page 88 of the 2004 edition by Communio Books, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2004.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods…. Unless you teach your moods “where they get off”, you can never be a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of faith. The first step is to recognise that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day…. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe.

Belief… must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”

— CS Lewis, in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ (in the chapter ‘Faith’, page 117 of the 1997 edition by Fount Paperbacks, London)

“We have to get up and act! Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. This is very important! We have to be deeply engaged with the world, but with the power of prayer. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.”

— Pope Francis, 16th January 2015, addressing families and speaking off-the-cuff, Mall of Asia Arena, Manila, The Philippines, as shown here and documented here

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

— CS Lewis, as quoted on the ‘Reflections’ page of the Redemptorists’ Reality magazine, January 2012

“Faith… a knowing beyond what we can conceptualise.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser, ‘Purgatory as Seeing for the First Time’, 4th November, 2012 ronrolheiser.com

“Everyone and everything is new when seen through the eyes of faith.”

— Fr Donal Neary, SJ, in ‘Focus on Sunday’ Mass Leaflet 28th October 2012 (published by Logos Publications, County Wicklow)

“Young homeless people… When they hear the word ‘God’, they understand a being who judges and therefore condemns them. Their low sense of self-esteem convinces them that they are unlovable, not worth caring about, and so they are incapable of believing in a God who loves and cares for them. You cannot believe in a God who loves you unless you first love yourself.”

— Fr Peter McVerry, SJ

  • “Jesus is Lord”—the Act of Faith in the early Christian communities
  • “My Lord and my God”—from the Apostle Thomas: the complete Act of Faith
  • “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away: Blessed be the name of the Lord”—Job

“There is no escape from the dilemma of being a man. Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief, which can never finally eliminate for certain the possibility that belief may after all be the truth. It is not until belief is rejected that its unrejectability becomes evident.” (p45) ….

“… this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and certainty. Perhaps in precisely this way, doubt which saves both sides from being shut up in their worlds, could become the avenue of communication. It prevents both from enjoying complete self-satisfaction; it opens up the believer to the doubter and the doubter to the believer.”

— Pope Benedict XVI, when he was not yet Pope but was Cardinal Ratzinger, in his 1969 book “Introduction to Christianity”, on pages 45 and 47 of the 2004 edition by Communio Books, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2004.

“Secondly, you ask me whether it is erroneous or a sin to follow the line of thought which holds that there is no absolute, and therefore no absolute truth, but only a series of relative and subjective truths. To begin with, I would not speak about “absolute” truths, even for believers, in the sense that absolute is that which is disconnected and bereft of all relationship.

Truth, according to the Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship. As such each one of us receives the truth and expresses it from within, that is to say, according to one’s own circumstances, culture and situation in life, etc. This does not mean that truth is variable and subjective, quite the contrary. But it does signify that it comes to us always and only as a way and a life. Did not Jesus himself say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life?” In other words, truth, being completely one with love, demands humility and an openness to be sought, received and expressed. Therefore, we must have a correct understanding of the terms and, perhaps, in order to overcome being bogged down by conflicting absolute positions, we need to redefine the issues in depth. I believe this is absolutely necessary in order to initiate that peaceful and constructive dialogue which I proposed at the beginning of my letter.”

— Pope Francis (Letter to a non-believer: Pope Francis responds to Dr Eugenio Scalfari, journalist of the Italian newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ From the Vatican, 4 September 2013)

“All those doubts are still there, but they are offset by those moments when you realise that God is completely present. Those times are short, but they are very real.”

— Fr Brian Lennon, SJ, in the Redemptorists’ Reality magazine, 2009

“With age, I am growing less confident or sure about my knowledge of God, religion, and life. As knowledge deepens, it also widens and begins to take on softer edges. Unlike the more-confident years of my youth, I now live with the sense that my understanding of God’s ways are a long ways from being adequate, let alone normative. The mystery we live in is huge and the more we grasp the magnitude of the cosmic and spiritual world, the more we grasp too how ineffable is God. God truly is beyond us, beyond language, beyond imagination, and even beyond feeling. We can know God, but can never understand God. And so we must be more humble, both in our theology and in our ecclesiology.

Mostly we don’t know what we are doing. The Eucharist, since it is the one ritual given us by Jesus himself, is one of our places of confidence…. And so I lean heavily on the invitation that Jesus left us on the night before he died, to break bread and drink wine in his memory and to trust that this, if all else is uncertain, is what I should be doing while I wait for him to return.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser

“God is always a surprise, so you never know where and how you will find him. You are not setting the time and place of the encounter with him. You must, therefore, discern the encounter. Discernment is essential.

If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists ­— they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life….

… a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens. Let us think of when slavery was accepted or the death penalty was allowed without any problem. So we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the church to mature in her own judgment. Even the other sciences and their development help the church in its growth in understanding. There are ecclesiastical rules and precepts that were once effective, but now they have lost value or meaning. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.

… In thinking of the human being, therefore, the church should strive for genius and not for decadence. The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.”

— Pope Francis, in a revealing interview published on the Vatican website, September 2013

“Doubting Thomas… Doubt is neither disillusion nor despair. It is disillusion that leads to despair. We are all prone to doubt: the Lord wants us to use our reason. It is Divine Mercy, the grace of God, that fills the gap. Only Divine Mercy prevents us crossing to disillusion… It occurs in all our lives, a time of sense of the darkness of the human condition. Mercy is something we have to long for, look for, and refuse to let go. We need to celebrate Divine Mercy before the moment comes when we might cross the line to disillusion. Or we may (reach) a point where we feel we no longer need a saviour: the road to quiet despair. Today’s feast (Divine Mercy) asks us to be ourselves — to make our needs known and to ask for Divine Mercy. Most (people) nowadays no longer know their need. If only we ask for and know our need! Ask for it, celebrate it, and refuse to let it go, and all will be well.”

— Fr Eamon Devlin, CM, sermon, 2012 (Second Sunday of Easter)

“The story of doubting Thomas (‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my fingers into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe’)…  Some will say: what has Thomas done wrong?

Doubt is often an excellent thing. Credulity is infantile: we all have to weigh evidence and make up our minds, and until we do, there is honest doubt, surely. But honest doubt is not willful doubt.

Willful doubt is wrong precisely because it is not honest. It has an agenda, it is evading the truth for its own reasons. Jesus is quite stern with Thomas. He knows that the Apostles struggled and then set their will on faith. Thomas obviously felt that he was better than Peter and the others, and his self-conceit tempted him into his foolish dare. Was there some reason why Thomas felt less threatened when he knew that Jesus was dead? Did the prospect of being an Apostle, with all it entailed, secretly frighten him? If we are like him in his weakness, let us hope also to be like him in his strength, since Thomas died in the end for his faith.

— Sr Wendy Beckett (the art expert and contemplative hermit who lives under the protection of a Carmelite monastery in England), as quoted in the July 2012 booklet ‘Magnificat’

“Can all this stuff about God and Jesus Christ and the Church really make any sense? These questions cannot be simply evaded…. I consider this questioning to be essential to the honesty of our belief and to its growth. The suppression of such questions in ourselves can undermine genuine Christian faith. That is why the temptation to unbelief, the inability to accept such and such about God or Jesus or Church in ourselves, may be a grace for us. Shocking as it may sound it is also shocking us out of a certain comfortable, easy grasp of God whereby we make God to fit our wishes…. God is above all a summons to truth. He is not something or somebody we can settle once for all saying, that’s it, God exists, God’s like this, I accept God. The unbelieving self reminds us that God cannot be settled in such a way….

If we question we can grow. If the questions are honestly pursued, honestly faced, we can move from the childish God of our early faith, to a more significant power mediated to us, above all, in Jesus. But this is a very serious challenge to all of us. It is the challenge of God, the God who is the summons to further truth. This God who takes us beyond the tinsel and the wrappings, from some of our childish views of that old bearded figure in the sky, is a God who continues to call us beyond where we are. The summons to truth is the presence of God….

The Doubting Christian is a true Christian, if the doubts come from the need and desire to find a fuller truth. We are not talking of an individualistic phenomenon. We don’t find truth or fuller truth simply on our own. The search for truth, like all of our enterprises, is social as well as personal. It is communal, something we do in interaction with people. The heart of the central doctrine of Christianity, the incarnation, is that God comes to us through one another…. We do not invent truth, we discover it. And the discovery of any truth is always some stage on the way to discovery of the fullness of truth, the final truth we call God.”

— Fr Enda McDonagah, “The Small Hours of Belief”, Columba Press, Blackrock, County Dublin, 1989, pages 126-130

“A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do. 

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.”

— (Mary) Flannery O’Connor, devout Catholic, American writer, as in ‘The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor’

“It is what we actually do that reveals the depth of shallowness of our own convictions.”

—Sr Wendy Beckett in ‘Sr Wendy Beckett on Art and The Sacred: As seen on BBC’, 1992. London: Rider Books, page 14

 

“Mary’s faith, like that of Abraham, combines complete trust in the Lord’s promises with a certain “unknowing”. In her life Mary knew, as we do, that God’s will can seem at times obscure and far from our expectations; it involves embracing the mystery of the Cross. It is significant that at the Annunciation Mary ponders in her heart the meaning of the Angel’s message.

Her example reminds us that faith, while fully obedient to the Lord’s will, also must seek daily to discern, understand and accept that will. In this holy season, may Our Lady’s prayers help us to grow in a humble, trusting faith which will open the door to God’s grace in our hearts and in our world.”

— Pope Benedict XVI in his General Audience, Wednesday December 19, 2012

“In our faith journey, there will be moments of fervor, of emotional warmth, of warm security; but there will also be periods, long periods, sometimes bitter ones, where on the surface we will feel only dryness, boredom, a sense of God’s absence, and perhaps even a positive distaste for the things of God and faith….

Faith, like love, needs to be sustained through ritual, through ritual acts that let our commitment and our action say what we cannot always say in our words and our feelings. And our faith tradition provides these rituals for us: reading the scriptures, participating in the Eucharist, praying the office of the church, praying the rosary, praying from various kinds of prayer books, sitting in silent centering prayer, and, most important of all, simply showing up regularly for church.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser

“And since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus. Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.”

— Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily at the Final Mass of World Youth Day in Madrid, 21st August 2011

“Loss of faith is a disease that begins with the paralysis of the knees!”

— Attributed in a newsletter to a PP of Blackrock, Dublin, a Fr Sean O’Sullivan

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first steps.”

— Martin Luther King (widely attributed to him)

“Faith is not something you achieve. If you try to nail it down, it gets up and walks away with the nail. Faith works this way: Some days you walk on water, other days you sink like a stone. You live with a deep secret, the poet Rumi says, that sometimes you know, and then not, and then know again. Sometimes you feel the real presence, and sometimes you feel the real absence. Why?

Because, like love, faith is a journey, with constant ups and downs, with alternating periods of fervor and dryness, with consolation giving way to desolation, and with graced moments where God feels tangibly present eclipsed by dark nights where God feels absent. It’s a strange state: sometimes you feel riveted to God, steel-like, other times you feel yourself in a free-fall from everything secure, and then, just when things are at their lowest, you feel God’s presence again.”

— Fr Ronald Rolheiser in one of his online weekly columns (and in 65 Catholic newspapers worldwide) (click here for the whole article)

“Religious art… the effect upon the viewer is in exact proportion to the depth of the viewer’s faith. To those who believe, these images provide springboards into prayer. By illustrating, they remind, and the believer wants that reminder, takes it gladly and uses it as a means to God…. They do not, per se, deepen the faith of those who contemplate them – they activate it.” (page 6)

— Sr Wendy Beckett in ‘Sr Wendy Beckett on Art and The Sacred: As seen on BBC’, 1992. London: Rider Books

“The more we have pondered on our faith which comes to us in words, the more we bring to prayer a spirit aware and alive… if we have never bothered to understand our faith, to read about it, to discuss it, then it is that uninterested person who comes to pray. Whatever we may like to think, how can we be giving real attention to God in prayer when for the rest of the time he seems to matter so little?

…. No one can prove that God exists. If we could prove it, why would we need faith? Faith is believing in what cannot be proved, but which we choose to accept.

…. I have been horrified to find people who call themselves Catholics having so poor an understanding of what the Church actually teaches. We today are in a position, if we take the trouble, to understand the Gospels as never before.

…. Anyone who says they wish they could believe but have not been given the gift of faith misunderstands the nature of faith. It is indeed a gift and God holds it out to everyone…. If you want faith, ask for it. God gladly gives it. Then, with this newborn faith, you can begin the long and lovely process of understanding what it is to which you have committed yourself. You read, you pray, you say with the desperate man in the gospel, ‘I believe, help my unbelief’ (Mk 9:24).”

— Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“The Lord doesn’t impose faith. He invites it.”

— Fr Eamon Devlin, CM (at an A.M.M. meeting, late 2011)

“Faith is essentially what cannot be proved. (Blaise) Pascal called it ‘a wager’: we choose to entrust ourselves to an Unknown, and we do so with love and joy. We throw ourselves off balance, out of our mental certainties, in faith.” (p.120: discussing Dorothy Rockburne’s ‘The Glory of Doubt, Pascal’ 1987)

—Sr Wendy Beckett in ‘Sr Wendy Beckett on Art and The Sacred: As seen on BBC’, 1992. London: Rider Books

“How disheartening to read in autobiographies or to hear from people that they ‘lost their faith’ when they prayed very earnestly to God and nothing happened. What is disheartening is that we have here a misunderstanding of the prayer of petition. It may seem to us that we are asking God to give us something—good weather, good health, exam results—and, of course, that is our explicit intention. Since God is not a puppet-master who will stretch out and change the weather, adjust the cells of our body, or jiggle with the examiner’s markings, and, at a deeper level we know this; the essential nature of our plea is not that God will change the real world, but that he will strengthen us to bear the impact of it.

…. We need help to take what comes and grow through it, by means of it.

…. Bad things happen, sometimes for no apparent reason. We have to accept them and grow through them and never let them damage us. They will wound us, yes, but damage is another matter, and that is precisely what prayer guards against.”

— Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? …. then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.”

— James, friend of Jesus, in his letter 2:14-18

“Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experiences of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God — experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map.”

—CS Lewis, in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ (in the chapter ‘Making and Begetting’, page 128 of the 1997 edition by Fount Paperbacks, London)

“Find God in the person of Jesus…. Faith in God can only mature when we unite ourselves and identify ourselves with this Jesus who appears as the revelation of the loving kindness of God.”

— Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, Christmas Homily 2011

“We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.”

— Cardinal John Henry Newman (as quoted in the Reflections page of the Redemptorists’ Reality magazine, June 2012)

“We live in a post-Christian situation within which the culture no longer carries the faith for us… (We live in) an age which is agnostic, pluralistic, secular, seductive, and distracting. Thus, to be a believer today is to live in a certain moral loneliness.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser

“Jesus was among his own yet he was rejected by those who were his very own.  When we reflect on the situation of the Church and the difficulties that the men and women of our generation encounter in believing, it is very easy to point the finger and say that it is all due to society or to culture or to secularization and even to hostility against faith and against the Church. We have always to remember that the first rejection that Jesus encountered was rejection by his very own.  Renewal in the Church must first come from conversion within the Church.  Conversion is not about fleeing from the realities of the world and society and culture and secularization, it is about understanding them in a different light.  Jesus is the light that enlightens but also the light that enables us to discern the realities of our life in a different way.”

— Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, Christmas Homily 2011

“Without faith in God, there can be no hope, no lasting, authentic hope. To stop believing in God is to start down a path that can only lead to emptiness and despair….

We cannot live without hope. We have to have some purpose in life, some meaning to our existence. We have to aspire to something. Without hope, we begin to die….

Hope comes from God, from our belief in God. People of hope are those who believe God created them for a purpose and that he will provide for their needs.”

— Pope John-Paul II, as quoted in “Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words”, 1998, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, page 19, with the sub-heading “‘Youth Teleconference, Los Angeles, 1987”.

“There are a great many things that cannot be understood until you have gone a certain distance along the Christian road…. Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone. There will come a day, perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant.”

— CS Lewis, in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ (in the chapter ‘Faith’, page 120 of the 1997 edition by Fount Paperbacks, London)

“I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at the first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out all of that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes.”

— CS Lewis, in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ (in the chapter ‘Faith’, page 124 of the 1997 edition by Fount Paperbacks, London)

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“Serenity of heart comes from consciously trying to live on a daily basis the things we claim to believe. Acting on our faith increases our faith. And it serves as a magnet for other people. To reclaim the Church for the Catholic imagination, we should start by renewing in our people a sense that eternity is real, that together we have a mission the world depends on, and that our lives have consequences that transcend time.”

— Cardinal Chaput in a talk given October 19, 2016 which was entitled “Remembering Who We Are and the Story We Belong To,” and was published in Crisis Magazine here October 20, 2016

The following quotes concerning faith all come from Dorothy Day, and feature in the book ‘Dorothy Day: Selected Writings’; 2005, London: Darton, Longman and Todd

•    “For myself, I prayed for the gift of faith. I was sure, yet not sure. I postponed the day of decision… Becoming a Catholic would mean facing life alone, and I clung to family life. Forster would have nothing to do with religion or with me if I embraced it. So I waited…. The need for patience emphasized in the writings of the saints consoled me on the slow road I was travelling. I would put all my affairs in the hands of God and wait…. I made up my mind to accept what I did not understand, trusting light to come, as it sometimes did, in a blinding flash of exultation and realization.” (page 33 to 35; originally in ‘Union Square to Rome’)
•    “Even then, deep within, I would be sure; even though I said to myself, ‘I believe because I want to believe, I hope because I want to hope, I love because I want to love.’ These very desires would be regarded by God as He regarded those of Daniel, who was called a man of desires, and whom He rewarded.” (page 48)(originally in ‘The Long Loneliness’)
•    “Since I got back from Pittsburgh, I have had this completely alone feeling. A temptation of the devil, doubtless, and to succumb to it is a lack of faith and hope. There is nothing to do but bear it, but my heart is as heavy as lead, and my mind dull and uninspired.” (page 75)(originally in ‘House of Hospitality’)
•    “The Works of Mercy are a wonderful stimulus to our growth in faith as well as love. Our faith is taxed to the utmost and so grows through this strain put upon it. It is pruned again and again, and springs up bearing much fruit.” (page 99; originally appeared in ‘The Commonweal’, November 4, 1949)
•    “We must remember that faith, like love, is an act of the will, an act of preference.” (page 175)(‘May 1978’)
•    “It is hard to think of these things. It is not to be understood, we cannot expect to understand. We must just live by faith, and the faith that God is good must be tried as though by fire. ‘I believe, Lord, help Thou my unbelief.’” (page 210; originally appeared in her book ‘On Pilgrimage,’ 1948)
•    “I believe that we must reach our brother, never toning down our fundamental oppositions, but meeting him when he asks to be met with a reason for the faith that is in us. ‘We understand because we believe,’ St Anselm says, and how can our brothers understand with a darkened reason, lacking this faith which would enlighten their minds?” (November 1949; page 273)
•    “It is then that I turn most truly for solace, for strength to endure, to the Psalms. I may read them without understanding, and mechanically at first, but I do believe they are the Word, and that Scripture, on the one hand, and the Eucharist, the Word made Flesh, on the other, have in them that strength which no power on earth can withstand.” (page 316; June 1972)
•    “The majority of (a catechism class) asked the same question: ‘How can you see Christ in people?’ And we only say: It is an act of faith, constantly repeated. It is an act of love, resulting from an act of faith. It is an act of hope, too, that we can awaken these same acts in their hearts, too….
It is most surely an exercise of faith for us to see Christ in each other. But it is through such exercise that we grow and the joy of our vocation assures us that we are on the right path.” (page 329; April 1964)
•    “If a man truly thinks he is combating evil and striving for the good, if he truly thinks he is striving for the common good, he must follow his conscience regardless of others. But he always has the duty of forming his conscience by studying, listening, being ready to hear his opponents’ point of view.” (page 334; December 1965)
•    “Newman… during a time of war for England… was asked at a banquet whether he would go against his country if the Pope called a war unjust. He answered first that if he were asked to drink a toast it would be to CONSCIENCE (italics) first, and then to the Pope.
During the Second Vatican Council it was again affirmed: ‘In the depths of his conscience man detects a law… man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man. According to it he will be judged.’
One must follow one’s own conscience first before all authority, and of course one must inform one’s conscience. But one must follow one’s conscience still, even if it is an ill-informed one.” (page 343; May 1970)
•    “I cannot believe that people are so captivated by drink that they will give up their own harmless indulgence for the sake of others around them. It must be that they do not have faith in the weapons of the spirit or recognize that power.” (page 336; September 1966)

—Dorothy Day, as featured in ‘Dorothy Day: Selected Writings’; 2005, London: Darton, Longman and Todd

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