POMETTO: When people of faith encounter doubt

February 27, 2024

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Oil on canvas by Caravaggio (1601 - 1602)

Several weeks ago, I visited one of our parish young adult groups to give a talk about Eucharistic miracles. The young adults were doing a speaker series in response to the call of the National Eucharistic Revival, and I was happy to join them to share on this topic. As one of the main points, I explained that Eucharistic miracles often happened at a moment when a person of faith — in many stories a priest — encountered doubts. I asked the young adults if they had ever experienced doubt, and after the initial hesitant looks around the room, several finally raised their hands.

For people of faith, admitting to doubt can be a very difficult thing. We don’t like to admit when we experience doubt and hesitation in believing everything the Church teaches. According to Hebrews, “faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (11:1). As humans, it is a very natural thing to doubt in something that is not seen. In fact, we have a long history of humans struggling between doubt and faith.

Take the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses believed because he saw the sign of the burning bush and heard the voice of God speak from the bush. But when God asked him to return to Egypt to free the Israelites, one of his first questions was how the Israelite people would believe him. Moses asks God, “But suppose the people do not believe me or listen to me? For they may say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’” (Ex 3:1). He knew they would encounter doubts, and in response to this reality, God turned Moses’ staff into a snake and back again.

God has been dealing with humans and our doubts since the beginning of time. It is not a surprise to God when we encounter doubt. When we encounter doubts in our hearts, the important thing is to turn back to God and share those doubts with the one who can offer answers and the assurance we need to continue with eyes of faith. This is what happened on so many occasions when a Eucharistic miracle occurred.

The person of faith brought their doubts to God, and He showed Himself in a new, real and powerful way.

In today’s culture — even among faithful Catholics — I fear that we’ve forgotten that it’s okay to bring our doubts to the Lord. Instead of turning to Christ, we post our doubts on social media with a silly hashtag or turn to a random talking head on YouTube to try and find an answer to the questions that arise in our hearts.

When we encounter doubts or questions or confusion — about the Eucharist, about the Trinity, about the Church’s teaching on chastity, or even about the nature of the Church itself — stop turning to Google for help! Instead, bring those doubts to the only one who has an answer.

Bring your doubts to Christ in prayer. Ask Him to bring you away from doubt and confusion and back to faith. I believe that is a prayer that will be answered in a new, real and powerful way. 

Angela Pometto is the director of the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.