Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French philosopher and mathematician, is perhaps best known to the general public for what is referred to as his "wager".
He maintained that accepting and following the teachings of Christianity is a wise "bet" because even if Christianity is nonsense, the sacrifices made are as nothing when compared to the loss of eternal life, should it all be true.
Now this is not Faith as spoken of by Jesus. Nor is it the Faith of Abraham as just described by the author of Hebrews.
You see, true Faith is not to be found in an impersonal playing of the odds anymore than it is to be found in an equally impersonal weighing of the potential consequences of opting in or out of the Church.
Faith is surrender. It is a submission. It is anything but impersonal. It is a wholehearted belief in someone. It is not unreasonable and it is certainly not blind, but it is, none the less, accompanied by a large dose of hope.
When the object of our faith is God we speak of it as being Divine Faith. Having faith always involves taking a chance. In the case of Divine Faith, it is the chance, no matter how remote, that the promises of Christ are indeed empty. In effect, this means living as though our hope in the promises of Jesus Christ is absolutely grounded in empirical evidence, which, of course, it is not.
And so we are in a situation where we believe that which we cannot know with intellectual certainty and we hope that on the last day, it will be revealed to us that we were indeed right.
To some this is nonsense. To others, disposed to and gifted with the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, it is a mysterious mix of certainty and longing within an envelope of love ...but in a global atmosphere of doubt nursed by the prevailing winds of cynicism.
The journey of the pilgrim is not an easy one. Nor was the journey to Calvary.
St. Theresa used to speak of the mocking voices within that said, "It is all a dream this talk of heaven and God. Death will make nonsense of your hopes. It will mean a night darker than ever, the night of mere non-existence." At the end she found peace and joy but not without first having lived a saintly life filled with doubt. Doubt that was, believe it or not, directly related to the extraordinary intensity of her hope.
You see, the more we believe in God and trust and hope in our eternal destiny, the more vulnerable we are, the more exposed we are to doubt ...and doubt we will as long as we walk this earth because there are no proofs ...strong arguments but no proofs.
Like St. Theresa, most of us know the meaning, at least to some extent, of periodic darkness. Hang in there! You are not alone. You are, in fact, in the company of most of God's saints.