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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I am scientifically skeptical. I go to Mass and I pray, but I still doubt that God exists. I want him to exist, but I doubt. When something good happens to me, I don’t say it’s evidence of God’s work, I say it’s just a chance occurrence. When others say that something is evidence of divine intervention, I think they are just deceiving themselves. When I read your website, I say it’s erudite, but I doubt the truth of what you say. I can’t just believe when I don’t believe, because scientifically that would be cheating. What can you say about this?

Outline of the Answer
• The Impossible
• The Matter of Grace
• Praying for the Grace of Faith
• Praying Repeatedly

 
W sympathize with you because it’s true that we cannot just will ourselves to believe “impossible” things.

  

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
     “Can’t you?” the [Red] queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
     Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

  

—Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Furthermore, science concerns the mind and the eyes, but faith concerns the heart.

 

Goodbye, said the fox. Behold my secret. It is very simple: one does not see well except with the heart. The point of life is invisible for the eyes.

 

 

—from The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
(My own translation from the original French)

 

 
The Matter of Grace

So, aside from humor and poetic wisdom, the theological truth behind your dilemma is the matter of grace. God could open the heavens in front of you, but without grace you would not believe that you were seeing truth. Angels could appear before you, but without grace you would say it’s just your imagination. Without grace no one can have faith.

 
Praying For the Grace of Faith

Then what can you do? The answer is clear, even though it may seem overly simple: pray for the grace of faith to believe in God. But note carefully—there’s another theological truth here: If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. That’s why you still lack faith—you haven’t been asking clearly and directly for the grace to believe that God exists. Essentially, you have been hoping that God exists, but you haven’t been asking directly for the grace to recognize Him and believe in Him. Furthermore, to attain results you must ask constantly and repeatedly.

Someone once told me that prayer doesn’t work. I asked him what he meant. He said, “Just what I told you. Prayer doesn’t work. I tried it, and it doesn’t work.” I asked for an example. He said, “You told me to pray when I have insomnia. So I prayed, and it didn’t work.” “How did you pray?” I asked. He replied, “I said, ‘God, make me fall asleep.’ And nothing happened. So, like I said, prayer doesn’t work.”

Well, this guy may as well have walked into a gym and said, “Ok, make me get strong.” But if he didn’t pick up some weights and lift them, over and over and over and over, for days and weeks and months on end, he would just end up saying that a gym is useless.

 
Praying Repeatedly

So pray for the grace to have faith—ask God for that grace repeatedly, over and over and over and over, for days and weeks and months on end. It’s not scientifically “cheating” to ask God for the grace to believe in Him, even if you doubt He exists; it’s cheating yourself to not ask.

 


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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.