HOW TO LOSE YOUR FAITH AND HOW TO GET IT BACK.

Faith, like love and service, can dry up, if not used.  I have talked with many people who have lost their faith or had occasion to just stop believing in anything related to Christ and how to love.

I don’t know about the motivation behind someone just giving up on their heritage. I do know I went through a period of dryness and lack of practice of the faith.  This included not attending Eucharist, or praying at all and thinking that it was the Church’s fault that I was in such a mess.  I now know that it was my responsibility to get back in contact with God, just as it is the responsibility for married couples to stop facing away from one another and face towards each other. Here are some thought about how I overcame the temptation to abandon Christ, based on my Lectio Divina meditation (Phil 2:5).

  1. I never really abandoned Christ, but I kept blaming him for my feeling of alienation.  Of course, Christ never abandoned me at all but kept me in the palm of his hands.
  2. When I thought that I was the center of the universe (idolatry), I naturally would place God second.  When I placed God second, I naturally blamed him for my misfortunes, although they were indeed my misfortunes. When I blamed God for my misfortunes, I had no room to love or seek forgiveness. After all, I was the center of the universe and did not need forgiveness.
  3. When I was tempted to abandon God, there was no room in my heart for mercy or love. To use a phrase from St. Paul, the funny thing about love, it can’t exist in the same room with “fornication, gross indecency, and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper, and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I have warned you before that people who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:16-26)

So, how does one move from inheriting the Garden of Eden to living in the Kingdom of Heaven? You have to clean out that room of hatred an the other evil ways that keep the Spirit of God from wanted to enter and prepare the way of the Lord, like John the Baptist. This takes consciousness that God is God and you are you. That God is not you, and more importantly, YOU ARE NOT GOD. With simplicity of heart, faith can make your faith grow once more to re-claim your adoption as sons and daughters. In the Catholic Church, this usually happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, called Confession after one of its phases. There is also a phase called conversion of life, where you renew your baptismal commitment to the Trinity and have a firm purpose of doing sin no more (of course, you know that you will sin again, but you will try, with God’s grace, to focus on love and sweep out the room of all that is evil. In essence, it is an act of the will to place your heart, once more, near the heart of Christ.

For me, this was all it took. I was facing away from Christ and I turned around to face Him.

I was my own God, then I accepted that God was God and I was me.

I used Chapter Four of St. Benedict’s rule as the ruler for my behavior. It didn’t take love for me to convert my hatred to love. Do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good, says the Scriptures. Actually, I didn’t do anything, just turned around to be in the presence of God. This is the conversion that happens each time we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is not only a confession of sins but a profession of faith. God does everything, as He always does. He knows the secrets of our heart, our innermost thoughts, our doubts, our temptations to drop our Faith.  He just holds out his hands to us and says, “Welcome home again,” like the father of the Prodigal Son.

You can lose faith only if you abandon your relationship with God. God will never abandon you, or turn away from you even though you are tossing and turning on the waves of doubt and unbelief, even though your sins are as numerous as the stars in the Heavens. Christ is the good shepherd who will care for his lambs at the price of his own life, even if it means dying on a cross to save us from ourselves.

 

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