Thursday, October 23, 2014

Atheists and Believers

No matter how strong someone's faith is, he will have doubts. No matter how strongly convinced an atheist is, she will have doubts. People are not divided into two categories of believers and non-believers. There is only one category with a range that varies throughout a persons' life. The one who calls herself a believer is not so different from the one who calls himself an atheist. They are both brothers and sisters on the same scale of faith that varies from day to day.

I know a person who has so much faith that she is willing to lose the most precious thing or person in her life without wavering on her faith, and yet she doubts. Every time a person commits a sin, he does it out of lack of faith in "God's will for him" whether he admits it to himself or not.  I also know a person who belittles in his own mind those who believe in God, but that same person experiences embarrassing and confusing moments of faith.

God gives consolations to everyone. We see them as winks or smiles from God, and sometimes as life changing miracles. We respond by looking up, wanting more consolations, more signs, and more miracles. We transform into sand holes that cannot hold the water for too long. When God withdraws these consolations from us, so that we may seek Him and not the gifts ["The Dialogue"], we fall into an abyss of doubt and confusion. Some of us walk away loosing trust in God, while others go on reading, praying, and searching to restore a firm ground to stand on. Saints are not so different from us as they doubt too. 

Those of us with a scarce amount of faith, or no faith at all, get all spun around with any consolations from God. It is so uncomfortable for us to loose faith in our contained and controlled sensual logic. We go on spinning in confusion, until our re-thinking and re-analysis, mixed with reassurances from our most trusted dead authors, bring us back to the stable realm of certainty. We grab on tight to our intellectual weapons and anchor ourselves in case a second consolation from God hits us by surprise. 

We are all the same when it comes to a measure of faith or lack of it. We are naturally weak beings, a product of life's experience and at the mercy of life's happenings. We have nothing more than near sight into space and time, a faded warped memory of the past, an uncertainty of the future, and a dream-like state of the present, all guided by limited faith and intellectual powers. What differentiates us from each other is not our measure of faith, nor our intellect, but rather our capacity to love and give ourselves to others. 

In chapter 51 of "The Dialogue", Catherine of Sienna teaches us how God graces us with memory to discern our experiences, with intellect to make sense of them, and with will to put them into actions of love. It makes no difference if we label ourselves atheists or believers, what matters is our capacity to give ourselves, through memory, intellect, and love to others. When that becomes our way of life, we become children of truth and light, and therefore ascend to a higher realm of life where God "remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us." [1 John 4:12]

My dear brothers and sisters, let us not boast as believers or atheists, but humble ourselves before God so that through His grace and mercy we may be truly exalted in truth and love. [Matthew 23:12]