Lost faith

Another gem from the Merton Institute.

How many people are thereĀ in the world of today who have “lost their faith” along with the vain hopes and illusions of their childhood? What they called “faith” was just one among all the other illusions. They placed all their hope in a certain sense of spiritual peace, of comfort, of interior equilibrium, of self-respect. Then when they began to struggle with the real difficulties and burdens of mature life, when they became aware of their own weakness, they lost their peace, they let go of their precious self-respect, and it became impossible for them to “believe.” That is to say it became impossible for them to comfort themselves, to reassure themselves, with the images and concepts they found reassuring in childhood.
Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, of spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days-until you fold up and collapse into despair.

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions Press, 1961): 187.

One Reply to “Lost faith”

  1. This is the attitude I try to train myself in when dealing with nominal Catholics at, say, a funeral or a baptism. It’s not their fault that they “lost” the faith; most were never given resources to step into the mysteries in an adult way. To me, I take it as one of the daily challenges of preaching. Thanks for the quote as I’m off to a funeral!

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