What To Do When Faith Wanes
#1


Came across a blog post called "Tolkien’s Advice for Sagging Faith," from a blog called Tolkien Catholic.

The post talks about a letter Tolkien wrote to his son, Michael, who was apparently going through a period of doubt. Tolkien advised him to do three things:

1. Make an Act of Faith (see here for a trad way of doing that)
2. Don't dwell on scandal
3. Receive the Eucharist faithfully

The blogger goes into a little more detail at his blog about each of these, so click away! His talking about the Act of Faith being an act of the will is a very important point...

But that post made me think of the many times folks have posted here about having doubts, or just "not feeling it" anymore, so I thought I'd start a thread to collect in one place Fishies' ideas about fighting that.  One of the commenters posted this:  "St John Bosco’s advice: Go to confession, and have confidence in your confessor."  So that'd make the list look like:

1.  Tolkien: Make an Act of Faith
2. Tolkien: Don't dwell on scandal
3. Tolkien: Receive the Eucharist faithfully
4. St John Bosco: Go to confession, and have confidence in your confessor.

What would you add to this list? Copy-paste 'til we get a long list for people to maybe act on when they start to feel lacking in the faith department, will ya?  Me, I'd add:

1.  Tolkien: Make an Act of Faith
2. Tolkien: Don't dwell on scandal
3. Tolkien: Receive the Eucharist faithfully
4. St John Bosco: Go to confession, and have confidence in your confessor.
5. Vox:  Thank God (literally) for the good things you have, see, hear, eat, experience during the day, as you come across them
6. Vox:  Pray the prayer of the Dad whose son was cured by Jesus:  "I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief" (Mark 9)
7. Vox:  Offer up the pain that you feel from your doubting

What else, guys?


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#2
Pray as much of the Divine Office as is possible, daily., even if it's just Prime and Compline or whatever. Consistency is key.

Spend time before Our Lord in the tabernacle as much as you are able.  No other Church has understood the reality of the Real Presence like the Catholic Church.
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#3
I'm not so sure when it was or where it was written, but the Little Flower famously said that when we are most unsure whether we love God, and do not know what to say anymore, simply say "My God, I love you". To make a genuine act of love in our Abba in Heaven is to come to the Faith again. We need to remember that Abba is a childish form of "Father", like "Ada" in Tolkien's Elvish languages. He understood the meaning of these things.

When my faith is flagging, I find reading good and virtuous stories - such as Tolkien - always gives me a boost. Something about the ultimate hopefulness and optimism of the fight against evil - even if it's the evil of Sauron, Orcs, and Mordor - of legends and tales is inspiring of Christian Faith.
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#4
I've been very fortunate. Since coming back to the Faith, I've been at times, either depressed or frustrated, but so far my faith hasn't waned since the dark days in my distant past. I thought of one suggestion, Vox. Do you remember the part of Imitation of Christ about consolations? I think that'd be of help. I know it's one I would read in that circumstance. So it'd be like this"

1.  Tolkien: Make an Act of Faith
2. Tolkien: Don't dwell on scandal
3. Tolkien: Receive the Eucharist faithfully
4. St John Bosco: Go to confession, and have confidence in your confessor.
5. Vox:  Thank God (literally) for the good things you have, see, hear, eat, experience during the day, as you come across them
6. Vox:  Pray the prayer of the Dad whose son was cured by Jesus:  "I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief" (Mark 9)
7. Vox:  Offer up the pain that you feel from your doubting
8. Dahveed: read Imitation Of Christ.
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#5
I thought I had posted a response to this, but I see that it hasn't shown up so I'll try again.

I really like Vox's suggestions about the father's prayer. That prayer seems perfect, because it shows our goodwill (that we want to do what God asks of us) and our trust in God.

And the part about offering up the pain of doubting makes me think of St. Therese's huge struggles with faith. She knew all of the pain of doubting on such a fundamental level, but she trusted God enough to will herself to hold on.  She wanted to believe so badly that she wrote out the Creed in her own blood and carried it with her. This is why I think she's so relevant to today's situation: she understands so much of what we are going through, and how painful it is.
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#6
(10-11-2014, 05:14 PM)Deidre Wrote: I thought I had posted a response to this, but I see that it hasn't shown up so I'll try again.

I really like Vox's suggestions about the father's prayer. That prayer seems perfect, because it shows our goodwill (that we want to do what God asks of us) and our trust in God.

That prayer is, as you  say, PERFECT for this sort of problem! I'm so glad it made its way into Sacred Scripture -- rather, that God arranged things so that it is included in the Bible!  I've been blessed to have not had any crisis of faith since I came to the Faith as an adult (before then, I was an agnostic wild-child who wanted to believe, but just didn't. I hope I never have to go through that again -- not having the Faith, or having doubts. It was excruciating . I mean truly it was. So much pain.. And I hope no Fishie out there ever has to go through a long "dark night of the soul" like that!. And if there's anyone out there reading this forum who wants to believe but simply "can't" or doesn't, who thinks he needs "proof" in some scientific sense, please do this one thing:  ask the "if-You-are-there-God" for faith. Seek and you shall find!)

(10-11-2014, 05:14 PM)Deidre Wrote: And the part about offering up the pain of doubting makes me think of St. Therese's huge struggles with faith. She knew all of the pain of doubting on such a fundamental level, but she trusted God enough to will herself to hold on.  She wanted to believe so badly that she wrote out the Creed in her own blood and carried it with her. This is why I think she's so relevant to today's situation: she understands so much of what we are going through, and how painful it is.

St. Therese has really grown on me over the years. I used to think of her as all sugar plums and kitten whiskers, and while I'm sentimental and highly emotional (an Italian, rapid-cycling bipolar -- wheee!), I just am not ultra-girly like I thought she was, am definitely not "coy" or anything (and tend to not enjoy the company of folks who are, God bless 'em), have been around the block a few times and am not into pretending or trying to come off as if I haven't been.  But she is so, SO much more than her stereotype or what a cursory encounter with her persona might lead one to believe. My big brother sent me some of her writings, and I'm very grateful...

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#7
(10-11-2014, 06:35 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote:
(10-11-2014, 05:14 PM)Deidre Wrote: And the part about offering up the pain of doubting makes me think of St. Therese's huge struggles with faith. She knew all of the pain of doubting on such a fundamental level, but she trusted God enough to will herself to hold on.  She wanted to believe so badly that she wrote out the Creed in her own blood and carried it with her. This is why I think she's so relevant to today's situation: she understands so much of what we are going through, and how painful it is.

St. Therese has really grown on me over the years. I used to think of her as all sugar plums and kitten whiskers, and while I'm sentimental and highly emotional (an Italian, rapid-cycling bipolar -- wheee!), I just am not ultra-girly like I thought she was, am definitely not "coy" or anything (and tend to not enjoy the company of folks who are, God bless 'em), have been around the block a few times and am not into pretending or trying to come off as if I haven't been.  But she is so, SO much more than her stereotype or what a cursory encounter with her persona might lead one to believe. My big brother sent me some of her writings, and I'm very grateful...

I know, right? The editing of her work did her a huge disservice, imo. I have a newer translation of her autobiography, based on the original manuscripts and with all of the omissions restored.

http://smile.amazon.com/Story-Soul-Autobiography-Therese-Lisieux/dp/0960087648/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409795003&sr=1-3&keywords=the+story+of+a+soul%2C+john+clarke

This and reading her Last Conversations, especially the notes, really helped me to see her differently, to relate to her better and to "bond" with her. She's such a strong saint, way stronger than you'd think on first "meeting" her. :)
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#8
i pretty much have lived in "desolation" or "close too" for as long as i can remember.  I know personally, even when i was non catholic- I never seemed to have a lot of "emotion" in terms of response to God...  so I used to wonder why... did i not believe, was i not truly repentant, etc etc etc...  I would pray and there would seemingly never be an answer........  ever....... even for simple things- im not talking about a house, or a car....  few years ago, i started to finally "gave up" and drift into "if there is a God he doesn't really care" or "disbelief".....  Then what i would call "on a whim" (though its really not)  I decided to embrace the faith i inwardly always knew i would- Catholicism.  Still, seems desolation, but there are brief consolations now.  I was chatting with my priest, he basically said- dont give up, hang in there. sometimes God removes graces to see how we respond (reference Job?).

-----  I realize im a newb at practicing and learning Catholicism

but in confession, i would be plagued by the "am i truly repentant? do i really want to be holy?"  I mean I would pray "Lord, give me the desire to be holy"  or carefully worded mental prayers, so i dont "Lie" to the creator and ask or say something i don't mean....  but then it occurred to me, God knows, He can figure it out.  in stead of merely praying "help me to want to be holy"  it changed to "Lord make me holy, Lord I want to be holy"  personally- and i know this isnt a new idea, but it simply occurred to me one day...  If i lack faith, hope, charity, etc (which im human so yes i do) "Lord, grant me _________"  All those things are decidedly part of Gods will for my life, for your life, for all of ours..  But as i found out when my priest says "do weekly adoration- even if just for a few min"  he isnt lying or making it up...  praying through the sorrowful mysteries the other day hit me hard internally... I was reading the little blurbs of the various mysteries, it just kept hitting me- "how stupid can you be, your sin killed Christ.. your sin whipped him, He agonized of your sins. etc etc etc the insanity of professing to love someone and keep doing things that harm them" I felt that in my soul....  I felt the separation if ever so mildly in my soul the other day but it made His mercy more real, even if briefly it wasn't merely in desolation... I wonder why i can see a horrible wreck on the way home and get a little teary because i know someone was very badly hurt, or killed.. someone who was loved by someone"  That to makes me pause- why do i get teary (mildly physical) but not necessarily for my sins?  Truth is I dont know.. all i do know is once i started going to adoration, things became juxtaposed a little more,, it feels different praying at my house than it does in the chapel...    but this is my experience. We all have different paths to heaven... All i can figure- and so far "Dark night of the soul" seems to hint at it- is that we all have different starting places, we all progress differently.  I also have been learning, and the book seems to reinforce- there are mountains and valleys..  Just take what God gives as whats best for you, relish the mountains, and thank God that you feel the valleys..  As John Cena from WWE would probably say "I might get my butt handed to me, i might get beat, but i don't ever give up"

so, I when my faith wanes i find myself doing the same that i try to do daily- even when my faith is at the peak of the mountain,,,,

Id suggest adoration to add to the list. if you can fit it in to your schedule more than once a week, or more than just 15 min great, if not, great-
echoing vox: 5. Vox:  Thank God (literally) for the good things you have, see, hear, eat, experience during the day, as you come across them"

dont give up... embrace the inner bulldog :P

but then what to make of those who seemingly always live in consolation, with super faith?  God bless them but thats there path...  this is mine.
as luke said "But Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."


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