5 Practical Tips for Resolving Doubt

My recommendation to those struggling with doubt (see video above):

1) Put less stress on apologetics, debates, arguments, anything theological that feels too abstract for you, that makes you “go mental”, that sends you through some labyrinth of proper names, that locks your consciousness at the level of concept or language or history.

2) Instead get to know the saints and holy people—Jesus above all! Take them as your models and exemplars. Absorb their personal witness into your soul. Learn their stories, glean lessons from their lives, read their diaries and letters and spiritual works. Admire what they aspire to, think about the goal they set for humanity. Pay attention to what they taught in terms of virtue, asceticism, personal reform, purifying of desire, etc. Get a feel especially for how they contemplate, how they find and rest in God: how they love. Incorporate some aspect of that love into yours. Then:

3) Patiently put their advice into practice, letting your models’ composite greatness be your goal, better yet, the source of your imagination. Conduct life at the heart-level, from your inner soul. Follow what activates your devotion as much as if not more than the mind. Clean your person in the mirror of these other honorable persons. Do not stress or worry, but trust it’s all in God’s hands. Above all, let your intuition be educated by the holy ones, by contact with the Holy One. And let yourself be changed.

4) Don’t underestimate yourself. Think of yourself as a saint in training, ready to undergo any trial, any aridity, any darkness for his love.

What I mean is this: Avoid controversies, quarrels, analysis, general or secondary issues, and instead seek to have first-hand experiences of putting on the mind of Christ and renouncing self. Let the deepening inner experience and time spent in attention to God shape your outer life and habits more and more, so that subjective and objective grow in unison. Remember that the prerequisite for spiritual knowledge is moral transformation. This is one core aspect of faith: to prepare your vessel to receive God while he is yet hidden from you.

By learning from divine, holy, sage, wise, and God-realized people—their number is so many!—, we are inspired to emulate their commitment and sacrifice and gain a stable experience of the presence of God. Once we have a taste of that, the soul is coming awake and we can live from the memory of that taste in full trust. Then we need no longer guess. God is no longer a matter of arguments, but palpable guidance whenever we call on him. Once we have the encounter, the effect is irreversible, even if ups and downs come. Work on attuning your inner compass to heed every hint of the Spirit. Obey when it’s time to say Yes and when it’s time to say No. The more we respond, the clearer our response becomes to us. The more we let ourselves rest in his presence, the more we will know that his presence goes with us everywhere.

Here is the trick: you will never think your way to faith. Focus on matters of the heart, inner devotion, prayer, repentance, service, love and striving to be without sin. Try to recollect God in every instant, aspiring to make real contact. “Knock and the door shall be opened.” All we have to do is learn how to knock and keep knocking. Keep it personal. Imagine how much God loves you. Close your eyes, quiet your mind, turn off your desires, wait on him. I guarantee the doubt will clear. We need only make ourselves available, make an empty space for him. He desires nothing more than to fill us with himself. Always remember that, and it will happen.

Of course, this approach to having “doubts” will not answer every question at the intellectual-reflective-propositional level of “beliefs,” but love and trust in God will take care of that. Love will elevate us into an intimate knowledge that is profoundly anti-fragile, that is not about right or wrong and its anxieties. Once we know him, we can take refuge in the wisdom of the Church and focus on “abiding in God.” That’s what all our beliefs are supposed to serve anyway! He will never disappoint us. From that basis I think we will solve our theological and ecclesiastical quandaries to satisfaction, such that they do not trip us up anymore, but increase our surrender to the mystery of his love.

5) Go to daily Mass.

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