After “Doubt” and “Difficulties” there is another “D” which is disobedience. This is when a Catholic openly and unapologetically not only disagrees with church teaching, but willfully disobeys what they know to be true. This is a condition of open rebellion, and the reason the Catholic Church is so weak and helpless in the face of the world’s onslaught today is because a huge proportion of her children are living in open disobedience.
Finally, it is so difficult to believe because it is so difficult to obey. Later on in the same sermon, Cardinal Newman writes, “To those who are perplexed in any way, for those who seek the light but cannot find it, one precept must be given — obey. It is obedience which brings a man into the right path. It is obedience which keeps him there and strengthens him in it.”
Obedience seems outrageous in a world of individualism and self-judgment, but the call to obedience is what makes the Catholic faith a “sign of contradiction.” It is in obedience that your faith will live and your difficulties will be resolved; but it is in your disobedience that your difficulties will turn into the doubts which will eventually destroy your faith.”
This does not mean that Catholics should be like mindless robots. Instead we are called to an open-minded and openhearted obedience–like little children in a loving and trusting relationship with the Father. We are also called to ask questions, to be curious and to seek to learn more. We are called to be open about our difficulties, because although they may feel negative they are simply the way we ask the questions in order to find the answers.
We follow the Way with our hearts on fire and our minds alert. If we would find, we must seek, and if we wish the door to be opened to us, we must knock.
Follow Fr Longenecker’s blog, browse his books and follow him on Twitter by connecting to dwightlongenecker.com