Life is full of difficulties, some more bearable than others. As for me, the fact that religious faith, which once came so easily, seems practically impossible at times now causes no little pain. I’m not alone in this difficulty with faith: in fact, it seems that almost everyone I know in the generation following my own is in a similar situation, if they haven’t already jettisoned religious faith altogether. I won’t delve into the possible reasons behind this, other than to say the pious have no reason to feel smug about their own faith and religious practice. When people of good will and positive intention reject faith, the keepers of the faith do well to examine themselves very carefully. As often as not, religious practitioners are a primary stumbling block to faith in others.
If there’s any consolation for those of us who wander in the darkness of doubt and uncertainty, it is this: faith, like hope, was never meant to be permanent. By their very nature, faith and hope are aides along the spiritual path. By the end of the journey, there is no need for faith or hope; they point to something beyond themselves. Many of the great mystics – John of the Cross comes to mind – suffered through doubt and difficulties with faith for much of their spiritual journey.
If faith and hope are temporary, we should direct our attention to love. Love is the one thing that is possible no matter our place in life, no matter our condition. If anything in this life gives us a glimpse of how great and noble our existence can be, it is love. Love is also the place where those of little faith and those whose faith moves mountains can dwell together even now.
February 26, 2016