A father who was totally destitute of faith sent his children to be educated in Catholic establishments.
A friend, having remarked to him upon the inconsistency of his conduct, he replied: “I know only too well, by my own experience, the misery of unbelief, and I am not so cruel a parent as to permit my dear children to feel the same.”
So great then is the wretchedness of unbelief! Listen to these words, and mark them well, proceeding as they do from the lips of an unbeliever.
Therefore guard against the dangers which may threaten your faith. Let me point out these dangers to you.
In the first place, doubts of the faith. If such doubts occur to you, do not dwell upon them, do not strive to solve them, but in all simplicity and humility say: “O my God, I believe this, because Thou hast said it, and because Thou art eternal Truth.”
If doubts which you cannot answer are brought before you by others, simply say: “I cannot explain this, but one thing I know:
God and His holy Church can never err. You had better consult a priest; he will be able to answer you.”
And if you should yourself be troubled with doubts of the faith, tell them simply and frankly to your director or confessor and he will advise you as to the best method of setting them at rest.
Avoid, as far as possible (and this is the second point), the society of those who deny the truths of religion and scoff at faith, the sacraments, and so on.
If they are your equals and among the number of your acquaintances to whom you can speak plainly, cut them short with some such words as these: “May I ask you not to talk in this way, for, if you persist in doing so, this must be the last time I shall have anything to do with you.”
Do not argue with such persons, but say quite simply: “Are you wiser than the Catholic Church and almighty God Himself?”
If they are persons to whom you cannot speak in this way, observe an expressive silence, and thus show your displeasure; or adroitly turn the conversation to a different subject.
Under such circumstances it is a great advantage to possess a ready tongue, for those who have this gift can often, by some appropriate speech, silence the scoffer at once and forever.
I formerly knew a witty Capuchin monk who frequently employed this method, as the following amusing incident may serve to show:
Upon one occasion a remarkably corpulent gentleman who was traveling in the same railway coach as the good Father, tried to make him angry by mocking at religion.
Among other things he said: “How can there be a hell? Where could the
Lord get the immense masses of fuel which would be required in order to heat it?”
The Capuchin, who was very quick at repartee, instantly retorted:
“My dear sir, pray set your mind at rest on this point, for as long as the Almighty has a store of such fat fellows, such ‘blocks,’ as you, He will be at no loss to find what he wants.”
In the third place, beware of reading books and pamphlets hostile to the faith or which attack the Church.
Above all things guard against an inordinate craving in the matter of reading, and do not fancy that you must read everything which comes in your way.
There are unfortunately many books, periodicals, newspapers, etc., in which the teachings of the Catholic Church, or faith in general, arc more or less openly attacked, and in which shameless falsehoods, calumnies, and misrepresentations in regard to her ministers are given to the public.
If once you harbor the thought that if there were no truth at all in such articles they would never have been printed, the most bewildering doubts of the faith might arise in your mind.
Such doubts might be like poisonous seed, from which the accursed weeds of unbelief might spring up.
In conclusion, pay no heed to the false and foolish assertion that every religion is good, every system of beliefs can lead to heaven.
A pious mistress had a servant who very often talked in this way. The first time her wages were due the lady paid her in base coin or money which had been withdrawn from circulation.
The girl objected, but her mistress replied: “But it’s money just the same, and don’t you think all money is equally good?”
She then counted out genuine coins, saying as she did so: “Just as false money will not serve your purpose, so a false creed will never take you to heaven.”
Therefore hold fast to your faith, as being the only true one and the only one which can take you to heaven. Christ established but one Church.