I was asked recently about my experience of faith and doubt. For me, I’ve found that faith and doubt exist side by side, as a kind of continuum. This is not surprising. There is the light of faith, and the darkness of doubt. God is known to us, yet extends far beyond the limits of our sight, and we experience this as darkness. It is the darkness of faith. It requires that we step out in faith, beyond what we can be sure or certain of. This is very uncomfortable. What if we are wrong? Yet, we have to chance it, it is the only way beyond ourselves to God, by allowing ourselves to be led without seeing. The alternative is being nailed into the coffin of ourselves, constricted to only what our natural powers can know. But that is never enough.

What is faith? It is a kind of knowing, of sensing, but of the spirit. So there is data, but it is a different kind of data. It is ultimately intuitional, not the product of step-by-step reasoning. It is a Relational knowing. It consists of simply being open to God, because God is God. This simple openness I call the virtue of faith.

Eventually, all who have the virtue of faith (the assent to be open to God and His Will) will come to the fullness of faith in Christ, as Scripture says. But if one shuts one’s heart, no growth in knowledge of God is possible. If we are not still growing, do we have the virtue of faith?

So there must be some room for ‘doubt’, room to grow. Once, again, this is very uncomfortable. But it’s not about comfort, but about coming to God. It is all very scary, except that we are in the hands and embrace of the God who really loves us. He is with us in the light and in the dark.”


Your brothers of New Clairvaux Abbey