The fact is that all the great spiritual models of the ages before us found themselves, at one point or another, plunged into doubt, into darkness, into the certainty of uncertainty: Augustine, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, John the Baptist, Thomas, Peter, one after another of them all wondered, and wavered, and believed beyond
Surely, then, doubt is something to be grateful for, something about which to sing an alleluia. Unlike answers that presume the static nature of God and the spiritual life, doubt stretches us beyond ourselves to the guidance of a God whose face is not always in books.
Doubt is what leaves us open to truth, wherever it is, however difficult it may be to accept. But most of all, doubt requires us to reconfirm everything we’ve ever been made to believe is unassailable. Without doubt, life would simply be a series of packaged assumptions, none of them tested, none of them sure, and all of them belonging not to us, but to someone else whose truth we have made our own.
The problem with accepting truth as it comes to us rather than truth as we divine it for ourselves is that it’s not worth dying for—and we don’t. It becomes a patina of ideas inside of which we live our lives without passion, without care. This kind of faith happens around us but not in us—we go through the motions. The first crack in the edifice and we’re gone.
The first chink in the wall of the castle keep and we’re off to less demanding fields.
Doubt, on the other hand, is the mother of conviction. Once we have pursued our doubts to the dust, we forge a stronger, not a weaker, belief system. These truths are true, we know, because they are now true for us rather than simply for someone else. To suppress doubt, then, to discourage thinking, to try to stop a person from questioning the unquestionable is simply to make them more and more susceptible to the cynical, more unaccepting of naive belief.
It is doubt that is the beginning of real faith.
—from Uncommon Gratitude by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams
Joan Chittister email@example.com
To say I am thrilled to return to Charlestown is an understatement. I was honored to be there for the month of June and then went to the Back Bay for 3 months which had been arranged prior to my coming to Charlestown.
And now I am happy to say that I will be with you until the last week in November.
I am grateful to Fr. Gianni for his time in the Parishes and feel very hopeful and enthusiastic about Fr. John Sheridan’s new ministry as the Pastor of St. Francis de Sales and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish beginning November 27th.
Below is the prayer Sr. Nancy offered at the Faith and Blue Prayer Service at the Charlestown Peace Park last Friday, October 7th.
Creator of the Universe, giver of every good gift, we thank you and praise you as we come before you to celebrate the bonds that have been forged between faith and blue and our community. We stand together on this hallowed ground as sisters and brothers of different faiths united by what we hold in common rather than divided by our differences.
We are mindful, dear God, that this blessed, sacred corner of Charlestown, is dedicated to the life of Robert McGrath, a member of our community, whose life was taken over 30 years ago as a result of violence. And so, dear God, as you know, this holy place was born as a result of violence and pain, sorrow and struggle, gratitude and love. And by your grace, and the work of the Charlestown Coalition under the direction of Sarah Coughlin, The Turn it Around Youth, City of Boston funds, benefactors and other people of good will, it was resurrected with inspiration, dedication, tenacity, and hope.
And now we lift up before you, O God, Robert McGrath and so many others who have come home to you from our Town through violence and substance use, and other illnesses and who are remembered by us this day, and remembered everyday by those who love them deeply here on earth as they are in heaven.
And we pause in silent prayer to honor their memory.
Our Peace Park, dear God, brings solace to so many and is a symbol of your light that shines through each person who longs and works for unity, peace, and the well-being of one another especially the less fortunate among us. We ask your blessings on all those who brought the vision of this place to fruition We pray for our women and men in blue who get up each day and strive to fulfill their mission to protect and serve us all, and we pray for their families. We are grateful to them, O God, for the sacrifices they make to fulfill their noble mission, for their collaboration with our faith communities and other Charlestown organizations, and for their presence and solidarity with Charlestown residents. Strengthen them and guide them, and in your tender compassion, keep them safe from harm and bless them abundantly.
We pray for each of us gathered here, government officials and all of us who live and work in Charlestown. Keep us strong and united in your love – teach us to not only hear one another, but to really listen to one another, with acceptance and respect and to find common ground on which bridges of understanding, cooperation, and collaboration may be built.
We pray that you guide government officials, law enforcement locally and throughout our nation, and community members, and all who are involved in creating meaningful
solutions that will help end violence on our streets and will ensure safety in our homes and schools. Bless them dear God and their important work.
We pray that you heal divisions within our country and within and among nations in our world. Convert the hearts of those who seek to sew division and violence and grant us the peace for which we work and long for.
We pray for those in our community who continue to suffer from addiction, homelessness, poverty, hunger, and physical and mental illness. Bless us with the wisdom and resources
needed to address their needs and recognize their inherent dignity.
Lastly, dear God, we pray the prayer of St. Francis. May it take root and flourish within our lives:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that we may not so
much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.