Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Faith Feels Fragile

When Faith Feels Fragile: Hope for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering
by R. Scott Hurd is 40-chapter must-read book offered by Pauline Books & Media that “reassures, inspires, encourages, and challenges you to take practical steps to reawaken your faith.”  The 40-chapter layout makes it a perfect companion for Lent as well as the Advent/Christmas Seasons; or as a companion for any time your faith is feeling a little fragile.

Scott Hurd’s first book, Forgiveness: The Catholic Approach initiated, in my life, a much-needed decision to let go and move beyond a bevy of past hurts. The book had such a powerful impact on me that it became an instrumental part of the presentations and retreats I offer on how to find peace in forgiveness. Likewise, Hurd’s book on building faith was life-altering, it too took a very fragile piece of who I was and shored it up and moved me forward.

When Faith Feels Fragile includes a list of impediments to developing or maintaining a stronger faith. They have led me to do much pondering over the years. Today we’ll look not only at Scott Hurd’s thoughts and perspective on these hindrances, but also a few ah-ha moments from my own experiences of faith.

  • "Cultural Static"  Hurd explains that “cultural static” makes it difficult to maintain a solid faith life because "the world shouts at us," demanding our attention. My time reading Scripture has taught me, however, that God's voice often comes in a whisper.  In order to hear it over the din of this word, I need to make time to be quiet and listen.  For me, this means planning my day to include at least one purposeful moment of prayer. Depending on my schedule that day, this time may be 15 minutes before I tackle my to-do list, a walk to pray the rosary or to unplug and chat with God, or--because I am blessed to have a chapel five minutes from my home--adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Responsibilities  Life is crazy. Part of our responsibilities should include asking God for the grace to find balance between work and leisure, as well as remembering He desires to be included in both! 
  • "Outta sight, outta mind"  Hurd tells the reader this is where too many people leave God and all things religious. Although not one to ever think I know the mind of God, I find it hard to believe that He would create us and then only want to spend one hour a week with us. If you are a parent, did you have kids to visit (perhaps even distractedly) with them a mere hour a week? The answer again I believe is planning and being mindful. In addition to planning prayer, I assure my week includes multiple spiritual activities that keep me connected to Christ. Attendance at a bible study or at a spiritual reading book club at the church or in my home, participation in a parish activity or organization, and connecting on social media with other Catholics, are just a few ideas.
  • Information overload   This is probably how most of us feel 99% of the time when perusing Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest! This inundation of information can impede our faith by either keeping us too busy to pursue things of God or by barraging us with info that may confuse our understanding of faith.
  • Lack of Catechism   This lack may be a result of what we failed to receive in our past or what we fail to seek in the present.  Most of my friends felt like the Sacrament of Confirmation was a completion not of our Baptism but of our need for religious education.  God is unfathomable.  Every day we should be actively seeking to discover something new about God, and who we are in Him.
  • Seek Guidance in all the wrong places   We do this in self-help books, online, Oprah, even sometimes well-meaning friends. The best advice, for every facet of our lives, can be found in God.  He has provided us a wealth of ways to garner grace (his undeserved yet freely given gift of his Holy Spirit) to guide us primarily through the Sacraments, Scripture and prayer.   

Two of my greatest obstacles to a dependent faith in God are my pride and my selfish desires. As Scott Hurd points out, "Jesus came to us in weakness, not in power," and further exemplified by the words of St. Mother Teresa, "We can understand the majesty of God; it is very difficult to understand the humility of God."  I must be honest, I have always thought that to humble meant to prepare myself to be humiliated!!

I recall about 10 years ago praying to be a less self-absorbed person. Within a week the WORSE picture of me in the entire world was placed on the front cover our local paper, which at the time was mailed DIRECTLY to every home in town!! While truly humiliating, it was not the answer to my prayer to be humble though it sure did knock me down a notch or two!  It taught me nothing about how to surrender my heart to God, to rely on his love for me--in all things.

True humility is “being down to earth”, it is being completely HONEST with ourselves about who we really are, and it is recognizing the limits of who we truly are in Christ.  Humility is such a crucial part of growing in faith, as Hurd reminds us, "When we're humble, we can accept who we are and because of that, we can accept that we have a need for God."   Regardless of our personal impediments, the only way to remove them is to admit we can do nothing without Christ.  Through prayer, participation in the Sacraments and the Word of God even the most fragile of faiths can be fortified.


Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You where she blogs, shares and speaks about the Catholic faith in our everyday life and the many opportunities life presents to discover the grace of God!  She shares these with great enthusiasm, passion and a sense of humor.  Allison is a WINE Specialist overseeing and facilitating the online aspect of the Between the WINES Book Clubs for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.

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