This past Wednesday brought the Feast of Saint Thomas, the Apostle more famously known as ‘Doubting Thomas’. I don’t know a lot about Saint Thomas, but still I feel a sameness. How often do we each allow ourselves to be filled with doubt, or if not filled perhaps exhibiting a tinge of doubt. It’s often more comfortable or easier to doubt than it is to exercise a pure faith that believes without seeing. Still, that is exactly what God calls us to do. Not only does He call us to have a sense of belief so pure, but our lives and our spirituality is dependent upon it.
There was a reflection in the Magnificat on Wednesday by Monsignor Guardini (Servant of God Romano Guardini) that I found quite poignant. He wrote about belief in a way I had never thought about it before.
…[What comes from God] is only seen and grasped when the heart is open and the spirit purged of self. Then it awakens faith. But when these conditions are not present, there are always reasons to be found to say solemnly and impressively that it is all delusion.
Simply put, the most critical parts of our faith come down to these two elements:
- Purgation of self
Then, and only then, is our faith fully awakened. Otherwise, it is quite easy and maybe even more comfortable to say it is all just a delusion and that believers are simply that, delusional. The truth is that the two elements most necessary for faith require less worldly achievement and simultaneously require more self-work than many people are willing to put in.
Of course we all struggle with our purity of belief from time to time and maybe even on a daily basis, but for all those that just flat out struggle to believe, I ask you this, what harm could it possibly cause you to take on the two elements that are most critical to faith? Both elements could only bring about more good, no matter the relation to belief or unbelief.
- An open heart, one that is willing to believe – even if not chomping at the bit to do so – couldn’t possibly do you any harm, could it? Let down your armor just a bit and open yourself up to receive.
- Emptying of self – I admit that this one is a bit more difficult to achieve in today’s social climate which is highly geared toward self-fulfillment, indulgence, and doing whatever you please, because… ‘you do you’, right? Well, I dare to ask, what if you just stepped out in one small way to empty yourself, to change the focus from ‘me’ to ‘other’. What harm could it do?
What if you just dared to subscribe to these two elements for a minute or a day or a week? What could you possibly lose in doing so? On the contrary, what might you gain? What if faith will indeed be awakened, even if only in the slightest, smallest way? What if?
The Lord so often chose the lowliest of the lowly for a reason, and I think a large part of that has to do with willingness and selflessness. So I leave you with perhaps the greatest example of a humungous awakening of faith that benefited not just her, but the whole wide world. It was an awakening that required not just openness, but a profound willingness to serve in whatever way necessary. Her openness and selflessness brought us the Savior of the world.
“Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Why are you holding back? What are you afraid of? What are you trying to desperately to control? Belief is our greatest battle. Open your heart…even if just a little. Imagine what your openness and selflessness could do to change both you and the whole wide world.