I Believe, Help My Unbelief

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

Is there a God?

I believe there is.

I’m a cradle Catholic; tick all the ‘sacrament’ boxes, attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.  I try to hit the confessional once a month and see a spiritual director about every 6 weeks.

If you visited our home you would find a Crucifix in every room, holy water fonts, icons, images of the Mary and the saints.

We homeschooled our daughters. Our bookshelves look like a Catholic library.

I was a youth ministry leader for almost 25 years.

And, my husband is a deacon.

From 1 to 10, at first glance, you might think I’m a 12 on the ‘Catholic scale’.

But, scales lie don’t they.

Kind of like when I try to stuff my size 8 butt into size 4 jeans. (#thestruggleisreal)

Truth is, I fall way short.

…especially in prayer.

I don’t doubt that God answers prayers.  I’ve had my own petitions granted many times; in some cases they were big… I mean, really big requests.

  • Like when I prayed to St. Monica for 15 years that my hubby would come back to the faith.
    God answered exponentially.  Hubby is now a deacon.
  • Or, like the time I prayed a DIY novena to St. Bernadette that our newly drilled well would produce.  (I mean, if she could find water at Lourdes, she could surely help a sister out in Cranesville)
    God answered with an earthquake (literally) which loosened the sediment and opened the well.
    ON. THE. NINTH. DAY.
  • Or, when I closed my business of 10 years to work full time in a parish. Then, after just one year the pastor told me, “We can’t pay you anymore. Sorry.”  He ended with, “By the way, do you know anyone who can replace you and do the job for free?” – seriously, I can’t make this stuff up!
    God answered a few weeks later with a full-time diocesan position (crazy cool story on how that happened, alas… another post)

So, why have I doubted the efficacy of my prayers as of late?

I just finished a novena to St. Jude.

He’s the patron saint of impossible causes.  And right now, there are three seemingly impossible causes that I voiced on each of the 9 days.

I’ll share only one.

There is a wet spot in our basement.  It needs to be dry.  So, I mentioned this in the novena with the hope that God would fix it.

Do I believe He can do so?

Yes.

Caveat: my doubt is not in His will that the wall be fixed.  My fear is that God will choose to use people, aka – our condo association – to help us.  We have not had a good experience with them thus far.

I don’t doubt God.  I doubt people.

You see, God can do anything but He often uses people to get the work done.

God gives us grace to work miracles through us.

But, in order for that to happen, we need to cooperate with that grace.

Bear with me for a moment as I use an analogy based on one of the aforementioned answered prayers.

Shortly after moving into our country home back in 1998, we found that the well had collapsed and left us without a drop of water coming into the home.

This was devastating.

Over the course of almost two years, we paid for three attempts to excavate dug wells (least expensive method).  No solid water source could be found.

So we ended up hiring a well driller – a specialist and geologist in our area.  After weeks of setting up, testing, and finally drilling, he came to us and said, “I found a water source 182 feet down.”

“Yeah!”

“But, I drilled passed it and into the bedrock.” said the well-driller.

“So, what does that mean?”

“You don’t have water… but you do have a well that goes down 183 feet and you owe me $8,000.” the well-driller replied.

I won’t get into the details of what happened next… late nights hauling water, law-suits, a possible move, and the DIY novena to St. Bernadette.

But, here’s the analogy:

We had no water.  God makes rain.  Jerry rigged a purification system that would catch the rainwater off of the roof and funnel it into a holding tank which was then pumped into the house and filtered.

Jerry participated (cooperated) with God’s grace and acted to catch the water that God provided.

If Jerry hadn’t been resourceful, the rainwater which God provided for us (grace) would have been wasted.

This is where I struggle.  Not everyone is willing to cooperate.

Recently a friend of mine and I went to see the movie “Love and Mercy: Faustina”.

It is the story of St. Faustina Kowalska and the history of the Divine Mercy image and devotion.  (You can watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/EE_iRSxz8cg)

Saint Faustina and her confessor, Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko, never saw the completion of the work that God entrusted to them; and He cautioned them so through Faustina’s Diary.

Because other individuals, including those in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, did not understand or believe the writings, the devotion which Jesus instructed to be spread around the world was suppressed.

It wasn’t until Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who would become Pope John Paul II, read the Diary and cooperated with God’s grace that Faustina and Sopocko’s work saw completion.

Archbishop Wotjyla was so moved that he reopened the investigation into Faustina’s work and eventually, as Pope, wrote the encyclical, “Dives in Misericordia”, based upon her writings.  In this same year the Vatican proclaimed the Second Sunday of Easter as the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday.

St. Faustina died in 1938
Blessed Sopocko died in 1975
Divine Mercy devotion became ‘official’ in 1980.

Toward the end of the movie tears welled up in my eyes. I  finally realized how foolish I’d been.

Faustina and Sopocko were simply messengers of God’s work.

They were vessels of hope for things to come.

They are also symbols of patience and perseverance.  Things I often lack.

Recently our diocese hosted David Mangan, one of the original 28 participants in a Catholic retreat hosted by Duquesne University in 1967.  This very powerful retreat would later be known as the “Duquesne Weekend”; it sparked the Charismatic Movement that we know today.

While I wasn’t able to attend Mangan’s talk, the same friend who invited me to attend the Faustina movie relayed a story that he told:

The ‘weekend’ almost didn’t happen.

The pump that supplied water to the retreat house had broken.

A group of the retreatants decided to go to the chapel and pray for water so that they could continue the weekend. Mangan went with them but had never prayed for anything that was so immediate and specific. After some time in the chapel, he realized that he had been praying in ‘thanksgiving’ for the water.

As the students began leaving the chapel, Mangan ran to the first spigot he could find,  turned it on and rejoiced that his prayers were indeed heard and answered.

This is where Mangan and I depart.

As far as going to the chapel to pray – I’m all in.

But, if I had been in the chapel with Mangan that day, I would not have gone to the  spigot after finishing my prayer… not because I had faith and didn’t need to see, but because I lacked faith and feared it would be dry.

Oh ye of little faith…

So, what do I do with this new revelation?

I am inspired by David Mangan and hopeful because of Faustina and Sopocko.

The problem with my faith in prayer is not that others aren’t cooperating with God’s grace.
The problem is that I don’t trust God’s ability to move hearts.

I’m the one who needs a conversion of heart and infusion of faith.

“A clean heart create in me, God.  Renew within me a steadfast spirit.”
Psalm 51:12

To the friend who invited me to the movie and shared the story of David Mangan – you have rekindled the fire within my spirit.  Your friendship has brought me to this self-realization and the necessity to pray for a stronger faith.  Thank you for walking with me.

And…

Jesus, I trust in You!

Pray for me as I pray for you.

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