TEN SURE WAYS TO LOSE YOUR FAITH
“Faith,” as a topic has always been a terrible teaser to me. Faith is the substance of what I believe, and yet, it is a Mystery of Faith; one has eluded me at the same time I find myself moving towards some semblance of knowledge. I know that it is a gift from God’s own energy (grace) but one which commands my respect and appreciation that it comes from God and not me. St. Benedict’s twelve steps towards humility begin with the “fear of the Lord,” as a baseline. This is God stuff we are discussing, and human reasoning and meaning do not apply. When talking about Faith, it is God’s language and meaning that are important. The problem is human nature does not comprehend God’s true language (pure energy, pure love, pure knowledge, and pure service) because we have no way to translate the nature of God with human reasoning nor our ability to choose. What sounds like a complete conundrum actually worked out because God realized our limitation and sent His only Son to be one of us, like us in all things but sin. This is the Christ Principle that is, not only human to teach us how we can authentically make sense out of what essentially is beyond our human nature to receive or make sense, but is also the revealed Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, our interpreter, our mediator, our rabboni, our Master, our high priest, our king of kings, our Lord and Savior, and our Messiah. He is all of that not because of any human power or knowledge, but because, as God, Christ lived to teach us to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father and to begin to claim our inheritance in Heaven while we live on earth. We do that only with, through, and in Christ Jesus, the Christ Principle, each day seeking God where we are and as we are. The sign of contradiction, the cross, death, emptying his humanity to form a perfect sacrifice to the Father, fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant, is part of the Divine Equation to unlock some of these mysteries of Faith. Not that we will comprehend them as God is, but rather to live them with the sum of who each of us has become. Dr. Billy Graham hit upon this concept when he talks about giving your life totally to Christ and Christ alone. Individual salvation is the core of why Christ came to save us. Part of the mystery is that we do so in the communion of the Body of Christ. I am the head, says Christ, you are the body, the living body during your seventy or eighty years on earth. The Church Universal is a collegium or gathering of all those who wish to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and “do what He tells us.” How a perfectly holy and without sin Jesus would leave humans the keys of the kingdom of heaven is a stunning mystery of how much God loved each person, believer or not. When he ascended to the Father to complete the human hero myth, he did not leave us orphans (John 17) but gave us Himself in the Eucharist to be present body and blood, soul and divinity to you me just as he was to Peter and John. Without Faith from God, none of this makes any sense, a sign of contradiction and stumbling block to the Jews and folly for the intelligence. In Baptism, which takes away the sin of Adam, we gain so much grace to have the potential to actually walk through the minefields of whatever life is being us and come out the other side bruised but not broken. The Devil is a real spirit (not human) whose choice is to confuse each of us in each age with the effects of Original Sin, with pride, envy, jealousy, vanity, deceit, lust, and choosing false gods. The gift of Faith enables those who are faithful and humble of heart to see Jesus in the ordinary events of life and transform life into what becomes their heaven on earth. Even if you have cancer, which I have had, and cardiac arrest, which I also survived, I try to increase Christ in me (capacitas dei) to choose to love God with my whole heart, my whole mind, and my whole soul. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36) Satan is there, as he was in the desert with Christ, to tempt me to choose another path, worship another god (mainly myself) and substitute hatred for love. Faith is not my choice to accept Jesus as Lord and Messiah but rather God’s choice to accept me, a sinful and one who walks a crooked mile, to be His adopted son (or daughter) and be happy forever as the ultimate evolution of humankind.
The Devil goes about seeking whom he may devour. You don’t mess with the Devil. The subject of losing the Faith comes up a lot when I hear other speak of anyone who falls away from the Church Universal. Each of us has reason for a reason, and that is to choose whatever we reasoned as being good for us. The fact that we can choose this or that doesn’t mean we are intrinsically evil. It does mean that not everything we choose is good for us just because we might think it is. We all live in a condition called Original Sin, where we are like a piece of iron lying exposed to the air and time. We will rust if we don’t do something to keep our integrity. We will decay if we don’t do something to keep that part of us (our spirit) alive. More than our body will die without the nourishment of Faith by belief, our spirit languishes.
REFLECTIONS ON TEN SURE WAYS TO LOSE YOUR FAITH
- Lose your need to pray. This happens because I don’t love anymore. I don’t care. I don’t take the time to do what in inconvenient to keep love growing. Like a campfire that has no additional wood, I slowly burn out. I don’t even realize what I have done, other than I don’t care about God, our the Church, or dying to self to grow in capacity of Christ within me. None of this makes sense. Life goes on without God and I don’t even know the difference. Prayer is being in the presence of the one you love. If you don’t care, you don’t want to pray, no matter what you have done in the past. Prayer is taking time to talk to the one you love and receive love in return. In the case of Christ, the love you receive is not only human but is God’s love. Only Christ, our brother, can translate human into divine so that we can even approach God with glory, praise, and honor. If love dries up in marriage, what you have is a relationship that is legally married but mentally and spiritually divorced. (I wrote a book on this topic)
- Think you are the center of the universe (make God into your image and likeness). More and more, I see the Genesis event at one of the most profound statements about human nature ever conceived. It is a paradigm or even an archetype of how humans are different from animals and why that is so. In my Lectio Divina this morning, my Rule of Threes popped into my mind. The Rule of Threes is that one reality is composed of three seperate universes all eixsting at the same time (physical, mental, and spiritual). Atoms, matter, time, space, exist in this universe, along with animals, humans, and everthing that exists in this universe. On top of it, simultaneous with it, there is the sole exception, humans. In the physical universe, the laws of nature are the default. Of all that is, only humans can reflect upon the physical universe with their various languages (mathematics, chemistry, physics, philosophies, and theologies) and probe what is and why it is. The third universe, the spiritual one is completely at odds with the physical and mental universes, which is why most people don’t even care that it exists, much less use it to propel them to the next level of human evolution. If the Genesis moment suggests that human race is flawed (not evil), it is because of human reasoning can choose between options that we think will make us happy or fulfilled. Not all choices are good for us. In the spiritual universe, which we eneter in Baptism, God gives us gifts to help us make sense out of what otherwise would be folly and a stumbling block. Just to make sure we get the message, Christ takes on human nature to change the Genesis paradigm from one of dissonance to that of resonance once again. But, the effects of what we call Original Sin still exists. With the Christ Principle as advocate, mediator, illuminator, transformer, we can make sense out of what is the opposite of what the world thinks is our destiny. To access this, we must deny our human selves and give up being our own center and, with humility, obedience to God’s will, empty our humanity to embrace the next phase of our evolution, being adopted sons and daughters of the Father. If we don’t care about any of these ideas, then we place ourselves as our own center, and make ourselves in our own image and likeness, and a poor one at that. People fall away from the nurturing of the Faith because they place themselves at the center of their lives. Ironically, each individual human is the center of reality with reason and the ability to choose. It is choosing to have God as our center rather than our own flawed nature, that is an act of Faith. Faith is God’s energy to do what is right, if your will is in resonance with the totality of all that is. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say: You will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This is at the heart of conversio morae (conversion of life), which, in turn is at the heart of contemplative practice, and which is placing your heart next to the heart of Christ to assimilate love and authentic way, truth and the life. An act of our will, each day is taking up our cross each day to live the sign of contradiction (the cross) and love others as Christ loved us. Falling away from the love of Christ means I don’t care because I have in my center what is unauthentic and bears no fruit. I have met unbelief and it is me. I have also met belief, and it is me.
- Listen and practice what false prophets tell you. Cotton candy Christianity verses take up your cross and follow me. You can find crazy, paranoid prophets who proclaim the end of the world, or you must believe in their god to be saved. The Jim Jones’ and Sun Young Moon’s of the world are there to entise the faithful to doubt Christ, the Church, the Holy Father, the Bishops, and even your own Faith. Some people fall victim to this cotton candy approach to the Faith and lose their way. The pussilanimous are those who are reed that bend in the wind, who follow false teachers that permeate our society with false promises and compromized teachings about Faith. There are so many religions that it seems like all of them are phoney.
- Do not believe that Christ is really present in the Eucharist. This is at the core of our Faith, the sign of contradiction and also a paradox of the world. Is God present with us only as a memory or really and actually present. One of these ways of Faith defys reason and can’t possibily be true. If it is true, it takes the most astounding act of Faith to not only believe but a conversion of life. This conversion means Jesus is actually here on earth now as He is in Heaven. Believing in the Real Presence (transubstantiation) separates those who believe (with all the diffuculties that brings with it) from those who just don’t care. If Jesus is truely present in the Eucharist, then you want to be close to the one you love as a passion. Eucharistic Adoration becomes a way to be present to Jesus so that He is present to your heart.
- Do not convert your heart from self to God. Conversion is at the center of what it means to love others as Christ loved us. Conversion means I am not the same today as I was yesterday. I now grow in the capacity to be present to Jesus and am open to the Holy Spirit. No one falls away from the Faith if they have experienced the love the heart of Christ showers on them. You would sell all that you had to be present to that love. You would prefer nothing to the love of God, as St. Benedict states in Chapter 4 of the Rule.
- Be lulled into thinking that God will take care of everything and you don’t need to do anything but passively get on the conveyor belt of life. Passive belief causes Faith to atrophy. Faith can dry up, if it is based totally on giving up the cross and passing the resonsibility for your actions to God. God passed them to you for a reason. Christianity is taking up the cross daily to follow Christ (not your whims). Being Christian is active not passive behaviors. Matthew 25. There is no conversion when you lull yourself into thinking that you just get on the conveyor belt of Faith and get off in heaven. Faith, without the cross and joining my sufferings of being in the world with those of Christ, is not only dead but also means I have seduced myself into thinking that I don’t need the capacitas dei (Jesus increases while I decrease) and I can do whatever I want without any consequences. All choices, or the lack of them, have consequences.
- Failure to see the value of using the Church to open up the Holy Spirit for your journey. It is as easy to beat up the Church for for being corrupt and full of sinners, as it is to think all priests are pedophiles just because they are celibate. What not only defies logic is also the sign that the one who holds such thoughts has lost the way, the truth, and the life in their hearts. Christ depends upon us to keep his command to love one another as He loved us. He does that knowing that every single human is prone to the corruption of time and matter on us. He loves us knowing out weakness which is why he left us two ways to make all things new. The Eucharist for food to keep us from walking in the minefield of the world, and Penance and Reconciliation with the Father, just as He did on the cross for all of our sins. Only Christ is the Eucharist, the sign of contradition. Only Christ makes all things new in our hearts so we can begin again (and again and again). If someone can’t see that (use it to help them glorify the Father through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit), then they have shut out the Church. Only through the Church is there salvation. What seems like blasphmy is a paradox because there is no separation from Christ as Head and the Church as body. One way to know if your Faith is dead is to ask if you can see this mystery of the Church, at once holy yet flawed because we are all sinners in need of God’s daily mercy.
- Inability to love others as Christ loves us. In marriage, if you have the inability to love, you have the dead bed syndrome–no love, no sacrifice, no sharing of mind or body, no emptying oneself to Christ in order to place love where there is no love. If you are celibate (men or women), if you have the inability to love as Christ loved us, the sign of contradiction now is not a gift of love back to the Father but just a job, only a eunich without the Holy Spirit to bring to fulfillment that act of sacrifice for the Church. This is how marriages and the priesthood and consecrated religious life because meaningless and a chore to live because of its contradiction has no Christ Principle with which all reality finds meaning and the energy to do the imossible, to live what the world sees at being foolish.
- Losing the passion for loving Christ through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. No one who has devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is far from the kingdom of heaven. No one who has the passion for being an adopted son or daughter of the Father on earth and heirs to the kingdom of Heaven, can describe that love in the heart because Christ has first loved us. Heaven, if one has the eyes to see and the ears to hear, is right in front of us each day. In the Blessed Sacrament is pure energy of God (100% of his nature). We don’t even have human words or concepts of how great this is, only the presence of Christ who became one of us to tell us this good news. (Philipians 2:5). If you are losing the Faith or even never had it to begin with, you won’t have exerienced the profound joy that comes from knowing Jesus as Lord each day, as Savior of the World, redeemer of all humanity from the slavery of Original Sin, mediator with the Father, Advocate along with the Holy Spirit, brother for everyone who is baptized through water and the Holy Spirit, and with us in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament for our Eucharistic adoration. This is the joy beyond all telling. You can’t describe it, but the lives of all the Saints have proclaimed Christ by their intense joy at loving and being loved by Love itself.
- Being seduced by the call of the World, the Circe of our age, not to deny yourself nor prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Losing the Faith is such a waste. False prophets, ideologies, teachers with false promises of wealth, abound is all ages. We are constantly tempted by the Devil to set down our cross and follow the world with all its seemingly fulfilling promises of what it means to be a human. Losing the Faith is not about Christ loving you so much that, even though you stray, you are welcomed back in heaven more than the 99 who do not need saving.
If you find yourself without a North on your compass of life, there is hope. There is time for conversion from apathy to profound love. I have experienced that falling away from the Church myself. I have reinserted myself in the presence of Christ through the Church, particularly joining the Lay Cistercians at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia. http://www.trappist.net I can attest that growing from false self to true self in Christ Jesus is beyond my words to describe the experience. Try it.