When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven – there is such convincing emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. – I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
Mother Teresa, whom we regard as someone who only solaces somebody else, was consoled by Joseph Neuner, a well-known theologian.
I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a ‘spiritual side of your work’ as you wrote – Today really I felt a deep joy – that Jesus can’t go anymore thorough the agony – but that He wants to go through in me.
Indeed, a faith might be a fake. Believers may be those who suppress and deceive themselves. At least, one can be pretty sure that a faith does not promise a perfect life.
So it’s not surprising that a devout Christian becomes agnostic, like a Los Angeles Times journalist William Lobdell (The Japan Times, August 2, 2007). After investigating a number of scandals – financial or sexual – involving religious institutions he began to question his firm belief and asked for help to a pastor by throwing tough questions, expecting a convincing answer. The answer the pastor gave, quoted below, did not satisfy the journalist.
My ultimate affirmation is let God be God and acknowledge that He is in charge. He knows what I don’t know. And frankly, if I’m totally honest with you, a life of gratitude is one that bows before the Sovereign God arguing with Him on those things that trouble me, lamenting the losses of life, but ultimately saying, ‘You, God, are infinite; I’m human and finite.’
The journalist concludes his article as follows:
Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don’t. It’s not a choice. And there’s no faking it if you’re honest about the state of your soul.
So, it seems that to some people, faith is simply given, no matter how she or he likes or dislikes it. The believer may become secularly happier or not for the faith – but that’s not a point. Agony is a part of a religious life, as it is a part of a secular life. After all, it is Jesus who said this.
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?