I remember from several years ago my wife and I discussing our doubts about religion, and even the possibility that God did not exist. But we discovered at least one belief which we shared, and that turned out to be the Real Presence in the Eucharist. From which point very simple logic told us that we must believe in Christ, and thus in God – and everything fell into place.
The other occasion that comes to mind is about thirteen years ago when I had a heart bypass operation. I had great faith in the surgeon because he was a follow parishioner, and he had a reputation to keep up. My concern was that, given the real – if small – possibility of my non-survival, would my disappearance under the anaesthetic be my last conscious thought, and the rest be silence?
I fell back on “Pascal’s wager”. Many of you will be familiar with this. Being a gambling man, he took the view that if God existed it would clearly be in your interests to follow him. Otherwise, damnation. If he does not exist you have nothing to lose. That made sense to me, I made a general confession received the Last Sacraments, and went under the anaesthetic with peace and confidence.
I was a little surprised to be told by a friend later that he thought that I had trivialised faith by relying on Pascal’s wordplay. And indeed Voltaire described it as “indecent and childish”. That may all be true, and my only defence is that it gave me comfort at a time that I needed it. And, even nowadays, I sometimes find it a consolation.
I would be interested to know how contributors experience faith, or define it. Do you have, as I do, moments of doubt? If so, how do you cope?
As a starting point, the Penny Catechism defines faith as “A supernatural gift of God which enables us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed.” I find this a little thin, and like much better the new Catechism’s emphasis on man freely committing his entire self to God (1814). This is confirmed by the preferred use of “trust” rather than “faith” in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures (אמון and πιστις), although in the English and the Vulgate the secondary meaning of “faith” is used.
You might be interested in looking up Pascal’s wager on Wikipedia. There is some good stuff to think about.
Post script. I have just read today an important article on the potential psychological effects of abortion on the mother. It’s at: