Why does my journey of faith seem so lonely?


Dear Sister,

Sometimes the living of my Catholic faith is a lonely walk for me. Why is that?  Am I doing anything wrong?  Sometimes I think, “Am I the only one feeling this way?” I’ve never had theology classes and would appreciate anything you could send my way to help me understand why I feel so alone sometimes in my faith-journey.

Dear Friend,

A lovely plant sits on a desk near our office’s east window. The deep green leaves instinctively reach for the sun. Its roots dig deeply for life-giving water. It cannot think, yet it has some inner compass which reaches for that which gives it life—sun and water.

Nature’s mysterious recipe of sunlight and water becomes the fuel of its life, its energy. It is likewise a mystery how the plant knows where the sun is and how to turn toward it. At the same time, it remains a fact that, indeed, it does know.

Faith is like that plant.

There are two kinds of faith:

  • Natural faith
  • Supernatural faith

Natural Faith

Within each human being lies the natural law which, when followed, leads to a life of virtue and happiness. Because of this inner natural law, human beings have a natural turning, as in the plant, to goodness, truth, beauty, and unity—the four transcendentals. This includes natural faith.

Supernatural Faith

At baptism, something magnificent happens—an infusion—not a natural infusion like an IV infusion given in the hospital, rather, a supernatural infusion of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love into the soul. These theological virtues are directed toward God—faith in GOD, hope and trust in GOD, and love of GOD.

Much like nature’s mysterious recipe of sunlight and water as the fuel of the plant’s life energy, the soul not only receives the supernatural life, the spiritual energy, of grace at Baptism, but it directs the soul toward God. This means there are two kinds of faith—natural faith and supernatural faith.

Each human person who follows this innate natural law practices a life of natural virtue. A baptized person possesses the natural law and, in addition, the theological virtue of faith—and supernatural hope and love as well.

Hard Times and Times of Testing

Many terms and expressions describe this supernatural faith: Deposit of faith, faith-journey, light of faith, legacy of faith, keep the faith, share the faith, live the faith, have faith, hold on to faith, to name a few.

When times grow hard and the light grows dim, in times of testing and trial, it is then that the virtue of faith comes into action. Belief can be a powerful motivator, and a deep faith keeps us moving through the darkness. Into each life, sooner or later, comes this time of testing. It takes many forms, probably as many different forms as there are people in the world. Faith tells us, “Hang in there. Hold on. Look ahead. The only way out of it is through it.”

Because of supernatural faith, we cling to the hope that God has a plan.

Faith: My Supernatural GPS

The saints, including the Carmelite mystics—John of the Cross, Teresa of Jesus (Avila), Thérèse, Elizabeth of the Trinity—all tell us that it is faith that will guide us safely into port. If they were living today, perhaps they would liken supernatural faith to a car’s GPS. Before beginning the journey, set the goal and you are guided to your destination. Supernatural faith gives us the goal and it leads us to that goal. A car’s GPS gives on direction at a time. If we do not follow it or follow it incorrectly, then an adjustment is made and we are sent on with a new directive—all the way until we reach our goal. A good analogy, don’t you think?  Just don’t turn the GPS off!

We believe in God and in His revelation, His revealed truths, and because we believe Him, we have faith in Him and in what He says. We are secure in following His lead. Carmelite spirituality, especially the writings of St. John of the Cross, describes a night of faith during what he calls the dark night of the soul. Those who are serious in their spiritual journey will come to this point. It is then that each soul must walk alone in faith. Those who are called to Carmel, to its prayerful way of life, are also called to this walk in total faith.

It will come. Sooner or later, it will come, and not only to Carmelites but to all who steadfastly walk their faith-journey.God creates, God reveals, God calls to relationship—and promises a blessing (or blessings) in return for our faith-filled response; we respond in faith using our intellect and our will.

This is what St. John of the Cross writes about, i.e. the role of the intellect and the will in our faith-journey, especially during the dark night. John of the Cross says that God wants us to give Him everything—to surrender all that we are and all that we have to Him alone. John goes on to say that God will keep us in the dark night until we make this surrender.

St. Thérèse died at the age of twenty-four. During the trial of faith which she mystically endured during the last years of her life, she wrote out the articles of the Creed in her own blood. The Carmelite martyrs of Compiègne went to the guillotine during the French Revolution in faith, singing of their faith. The opera “Dialogues of the Carmelites” re-tells their martyrdom and the faith leading to it. Eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred.

In every generation, since the time of Christ, there has been martyrdom for the faith. This, too, is a mystery. The quotation,“the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church,” proclaims the faith of so many martyrs who shed their blood for their Faith in Christ. Given the times in which we are now living, this gives us all something to think about.

Thank you for your question. I hope that one or more of these thoughts will help you!

Until next time,

Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.

This story and many others are found in the Carmelite Sisters’ short-story book called “Moments of Grace.”  If you wish to obtain a copy of the book, please visit: https://carmelitesistersocd.com/product/book-moments-of-grace/.

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

We encourage you to support the work of the sisters with your prayers and through donations and planned giving. Click here to learn more..

If you hear God calling you to the religious life, I encourage you to visit their vocations page. – Deacon Mike

Or for more information, please contact:
Sister Elizabeth Therese, O.C.D., Vocation Directress
920 East Alhambra Road
Alhambra, California 91801

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About the Author

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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