Part 4: Counsel Those in Doubt
By Chris Sparks (Jan 13, 2016)
The following is the fourth in a seven-part series on the spiritual works of mercy.
Doubt is very popular amongst academics today. It's sometimes called a sign of a real, mature, adult faith — and yet in ages past, such an idea would have seemed preposterous.
Because we are saved by living faith (see Eph 2:8; 2 Cor 5:7), manifested through good works in obedience to the Lord and the love that he places in our hearts (see Mt 25; Jas 2:14-26).
We are saved by faith, not doubt. So why the modern confusion?
We live in a civilization that thinks the only way to know anything at all is through the scientific method, through absolute certainty based on observation through our physical senses. The problem with that attitude is that you cannot touch love itself, or truth itself, or meaning itself. But these are all real. In fact, they're more important realities than cars or wind or anything we can weigh and measure with scientific instruments. We can only get at love and truth and meaning through other things: through hugs, kisses, and loving care by works of mercy; through words on a page, in the air.
We can only receive faith by hearing the Word of God, by receiving the Sacraments, by blessing and teaching and all the life of the Mystical Body of Christ.
None of this is really suited to being weighed, measured, or tested in a laboratory. None of this is suited to empirical testing, to scientific "certainty." In fact, all these realities leave a lot of room for doubt, if we choose, if we demand scientific proof, empirical evidence, if we demand to see, and touch, and fully comprehend before ever we trust or believe. And yet love, truth, and meaning are real, more real than particle physics, chemistry, or biology.
So we have an almost endless amount of work to do today in our skeptical, scientifically obsessed world. We can counsel the doubtful by sharing our faith with our friends, our family, our neighbors — heck, sometimes, even ourselves. I once came across a story of a saint who was so tempted to doubt that he wrote the Creed down on a piece of paper, which he then carried in his breast pocket. Whenever he would be tempted to doubt, he would touch his hand to the pocket holding the Creed — a recommitment to the faith, and a reminder.
So let us remind ourselves of all the evidence for the truth of the faith: the miracles and the saints; the endurance of the Church across 2000 years of tumultuous human history in spite of her human members; the beauty Catholicism has produced and the tremendous works of mercy undertaken by the faithful. Let us remind ourselves that our faith does not simply rest upon an ancient text, but upon a living reality: the Church, the pillar and foundation of truth (see 1 Tim 3:15), a field of weeds and wheat (see Mt 13:24-30), a catch of good fish and bad (see Mt 13:47-50), a hospital for sinners run by the Divine Physician, where the saints join the nursing staff as soon as they are made well. We have testimonies such as the Diary of St. Faustina, the accounts of saints and mystics who have had more direct encounters with spiritual realities than most of us are ever blessed to receive. We listen to Scripture and Tradition; we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate; we endeavor to live and proclaim truth in love; we are made holy by the Holy Spirit — and we go forth to share all this wealth of God with the world.
Counsel the doubtful, and pray for them, that they may be blessed by God with a living faith and become some of the saints of God.
The spiritual works of mercy
• Teach the ignorant
• Pray for the living and the dead
• Admonish sinners
• Counsel those in doubt
• Console the sorrowful
• Bear wrongs patiently
• Forgive offenses
We invite you to follow along with the series.