Even Strong Faith Can Be Tested

Brother David Henley, Glenmary vocation directorApril 2012

As I meditated on the Scripture readings from Mass this past Sunday (the second Sunday of Easter), I was struck by the fact that a recurring theme was faith. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles says that "those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need." (Acts 5:34-35). People obviously had faith in the teachings of the Apostles and were assured that their needs would be met by the community of believers to which they now belonged.

The second reading from the First Letter of John states, "And the victory that conquers the world is our faith." (1 Jn 5:4) Through our faith we can overcome all of the obstacles that are seemingly in our way. In the Gospel of John, the words that Jesus spoke to Thomas are most certainly about faith: "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." (Jn 20:29)

I suppose this theme struck me because this is the time of year during which I think our faith should be the strongest. I have just completed my Lenten journey through the spiritual dryness of the desert and have come to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Why is it then, just one week later, that I hear so many Scripture passages about faith? Why do I need to be reminded so soon of the importance of faith? If I truly believe what we as a Church celebrated just one week ago, why would I have doubts?

I turned to the Catechism of the Catholic Church to find the answers. The catechism states that if we truly profess "I believe," then "we must first ask what ‘to believe' means." Our faith is our "response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life." (paragraph 26)

Therefore, our journey to find God begins with faith, and it is that same faith which ignites our love of God and carries us through our journey. For some of us, it is our faith that allows us to respond to God's love by committing ourselves to God and to the building of his kingdom as priests or brothers. For Glenmarians, one way we make acts of faith is by professing our Oaths. By doing so, we publicly commit ourselves to lives of poverty, chastity, obedience and prayer as we serve with our community members in the mission areas of the United States.

We Glenmarians profess and renew our Oaths as students in novitiate and advanced formation before we commit our lives as missioners at our Final Oaths. These Oaths can only be professed and lived out because of our faith. And publicly living out our Oaths as Glenmary priests and brothers is an act of faith that we perform every day for the rest of our lives.

This spring, two Glenmary students will renew their Oaths and one novice will profess his Oath for the first time. In addition, two Glenmary transitional deacons will be ordained priests. Oaths and ordinations are acts of faith, and are, therefore, reasons for celebration in the Glenmary community. And by no means are these joyous events closed or private affairs. We love to have as many people as possible share in these wonderful acts of faith. Therefore, if you would like attend the Oath and ordination ceremonies, please contact us and we will send you more information. In the "Questions/Comments" box, simply type "ordination/oath information."

I think it was Thomas Merton's great faith that led him to write the words:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your Will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing...."

I believe these words can remind us that even during the times when we seem to be so close to God—such as after Easter, or during an Oath, or during discernment of a call to religious life—there can also be moments of doubt. As we continue to celebrate the resurrection, let us pray that we keep growing in our faith and continuing on the road that allows us to respond to God's love in our lives.