Faith And Love
One of the greatest graces in my life – possibly, if I think of the possible reward, the greatest – is a robust faith.
Faith to me was never something I had to reach to, or to fight for. I remember perfectly well a time in which I could not read or write, and perfectly well knew that there is God; and I remember this feeling was so natural I would not have doubted it more than I could have doubted the existence of the sun.
It went on when I was a little child, but at this point the “Person I knew Was There” (not in the sense that I saw him, or perceived him physically; but in the sense I knew he was there in the same way as you know your mother exists even if she is not in the room, and you know her love is with you even if she is not physically there) had a name: God. I actually still remember very well the moment and the place I was told the name, and remember thinking with childish surprise “ah, so that is his name: God”.
In the first school years, when as every other child I became more open toward external sensations and contacts, this knowledge remained very strong. It was, just, there.
This clear knowledge – a diffused knowledge, but which did not admit doubt; the same as when you know you’re healthy even if you don’t think continuously “I am healthy”; it is just there – decreased in my teenage years, and when I was sixteen-seventeen had become rather tenuous. I can’t say there has been a day in my life I didn’t believe in God, but certainly there were days in my life I knew I didn’t believe so strongly as I used to do. I remember comparing it with a flame, once very big and warm but now smaller and smaller, and you can see it’s still there, but start to wonder whether the time will ever come when you can’t see it anymore.
When (as I know now, and did not know then) the hormonal tempests of the inordinate growth started to subside, I started to notice the flame was, gradually, getting bigger and bigger; when I was twenty-one I’d have rather doubted the existence of my own right hand than God’s. By the grace of God, and an healthy prayer life even before I started to practice again – this is another thing I always did without any constriction and fully spontaneously – things have remained so since, and I pray they may remain so to the day I die.
Strangely, since a child I have been considered rather intelligent, but I never ever had a non-believer wondering how I could, being rather smart, believe in God. I must have been a problem to them, because if you think I believe in fairies then you’re saying I’m stupid, and if you go around saying I’m stupid I am probably not the one who is going to look it. The atheists condemn belief as a tale in abstract, but have more difficulties in condemning otherwise rather intelligent people as children, as all those believing in tales must be.
Still, I am one of those cases – a minority I think, but by no means rare – of faith which never had to be conquered, and never was seriously put in doubt. I never had a vocation, either, and I assume that those who have must feel it in them in the same unquestionable way as one feels he is in love, or that there is God.
Some people never got this thing of the certainty, and thought – for some reason known only to them – that the one who doubts be, in some secret way, in a better position than the man who knows; or more intelligent, or more intellectual, or more profound. Bollocks.
Think about being in love. There’s no doubt those who have never been in love must be unable to even start to conceive what it is, to be really in love. They might argue for hours about the self-delusion of those people thinking that they are in love, and bla bla, and bla bla. Meanwhile, those in love do not doubt in the least of the existence of this most powerful force, and have only a sad and sympathetic smile for those who don’t believe in love’s existence. How much do they miss. They miss, very simply, a different plane of existence, and say it’s not there because they’ve never been there, and can’t arrive there.
Alas, in my case faith never had such a violent grip on me as love. In some people, though, it has, and among those the St Francis and St. Clare are born. They simply believed with the passion of the lover.
This different plane of reality – something which doesn’t need science to be demonstrated more than love would – fully escapes the atheists. They are like ants solemnly declaring there is no Milky Way, because they haven’t found it in their ant-books.
Now, of course this kind of faith – inborn, so to speak, and more mystical than rational – is not a grace given to everyone, but merely one of those graces God distributes around in a seemingly random way: some are born witty, some intelligent, some tall, some strong, some rich, some healthy; some, with an inborn faith.
This kind of faith is not given to everyone. Still, to pretty much everyone reason is given, and grace to inspire this reason to the right steps, and the ability to pray that one may be given faith, and the humility to move slowly but surely in the right direction until one arrives. Knock, and all that. Here you see another clear mark of the atheist: he refuses the honest search, let alone the earnest one. He behaves like the one who does not believe in love, mocks all those who have experienced it, and positively refuses to be, so to speak, open to the possibility of falling in love. Alas, he will more easily be cured from the second error than from the first, then God requires from most people that they put some solid effort, or at least start some serious questioning, or at least show some humility.
From some, he seems not to require this effort. He makes someone rich, someone beautiful, someone witty, someone healthy, someone intelligent. To some others, he gives unquestioning faith. Then he sends them around to quarrel, and write blogs. They well should, because like those in love they do not doubt, they simply know.