“Faith is a country of darkness”

I frequently turn to Catherine Doherty’s writings when I am struggling.  This is one of my favorites of hers.  May reading it bring you hope.

Faith is a country of darkness into which we venture because we love and believe in the Beloved, who is beyond all reasoning, all understanding, all comprehension.  And at the same time, paradoxically, is enclosed within us: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Faith must go through this strange dark land, following him whom it loves.

Christ, our Beloved, becomes the door, the way into and through this darkness.  And suddenly our heart knows that if we will pass through the door and walk along that way, we will see the Father.

What does it mean to see the Father?  It means to assuage that hunger that has been put in man’s heart by God himself, the hunger of finally meeting absolute love.  We yearn for it.  All of us do.  We arise and go on a pilgrimage, guided only by faith that we must journey toward the face of perfect Love–because for this we were created, to be one with the Love.

If we embark upon this quest, into the land where we may not be able to hear, may not be able to see, may not be able even to speak, suddenly we will be mysteriously visited.  A hand will touch our ears and they will be opened, not only to the speech of man but to the speech of God.  A hand will touch our eyes and we will see, not only with our eyes, but with the sight of God.  A hand will touch our tongue, and we will speak, not only as men do, but as God speaks, and we will become prophets of the Lord.

True, on the road to the Father we shall fall, for we shall sin.  We may turn away from God, we may leave the Church, we may think that we have left everything.  But faith being a gift of God, it does not desert us; we desert it, but it follows us.  We leave the Church, but the Church–which is part of faith, for it is part of Christs–does not leave us.  We turn away from God, but God never turns away from us.

Sitting in the darkness

And my final excerpt from Fr. Marc Foley’s book, The Context of Holiness:

Acts of faith are expressed in two ways.  The first is our willingness to jump into the darkness, that is, choosing to trust in God’s guidance as we venture into the unknown.  The second is our willingness to sit in the darkness, which is continuing to do God’s will when our emotional resources are depleted and life seems hollow, meaningless and absurd.  . . .

These are the worst times in our life of faith when viewed from a psychological and emotional perspective.  But from a spiritual vantage point, they are potentially the best of times.  For when we continue to do God’s will without emotional support, our love for God and neighbor grows and is purified.

“He looks at you with so much love”

“Live in peace and joy, my dear daughter.  Our Lord looks at you and he looks at you with so much love and compassion; and the weaker you are, the more his love for you grows warm and tender.  Never harbor thoughts which would go in reverse direction.  If these thought come and pester you, pay no heed to them; turn your mind away from them and cling to God with a humility that is bold and courageous.  Speak to him about his sacred and indescribable goodness which pours itself out on us, loving our small and week, poor and abject nature, despite all its infirmities.” (St. Francis de Sales)

Coming to the end of ourselves

Jerry Sitter, in his outstanding book on loss, A Grace Disguised, writes about the sudden loss of his wife, his daughter, and his mother, all in one tragic car accident.  We all suffer loss and Jerry writes so well about what is common to all of us in our losses.  Here is one sampling:

Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness.  Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being.  It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs.  In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves.

But in coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God.  Our failures can lead us to grace and to a profound spiritual awakening.  This process occurs frequently with those who suffer loss.  It often begin when we face our own weaknesses and realize how much we take favorable circumstances for granted.  When loss deprives us of those circumstances, our anger, depression, and ingratitude expose the true state of our souls, showing us how small we really are.  We see that our identity is largely external, not internal.

Finally, we reach the point where we begin to search for a new life, one that depends less on circumstances and more on the depth of our souls.  That, in turn, opens us to new ideas and perspectives, including spiritual ones.  We feel the need for something beyond ourselves, and it begins to dawn o nus that reality may be more than we once thought it to be.  We begin to perceive hints of the divine, and our longing grows.  To our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe who, despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely.  In coming to the end ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves.  We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being.

Praying for you, that through whatever loss you are experiencing right now, that you might know the fierce love of God for you.