BY ARCHBISHOP SOC VILLEGAS
What is faith for you? What is your experience of faith? When can you say you have faith and when can you say your faith is weak? Some of us think that when we have clear images of God and strong bubbling feelings accompany our experience of those images, our faith is strong and vibrant. Some think that when fervor is strong and feelings are aflame, faith is very strong. There is warm and solid experience of God in prayer. This is similar to the bliss and tenderness of honeymoon; but honeymoon is not a marriage.
Unfortunately, such strong fervent feelings and such vibrant and clear imaginations of God can also lead to a false certainty. It can lead to spiritual arrogance. It can make one judgmental with others whose fervor is less and who whose imagination of God is dark and dry.
At this point of absolute certainty of God and absolute fervor for Him, God who wants us to grow in faith can take away the bottom on which we stand. When we seem to fall out, we in turn become more humble, less judgmental and more empathetic.
This is the Zechariah experience.
He entered the holy presence with clear images of God in His mind and with much human fervor. The angel struck him mute. It was not a curse. It was not a punishment. It was a blessed chance to recover humility through uncertainty and handicap.
This darkness may be confusing but it is really maturing. When faith is so strong and certain, God leads us into uncertainty so that our arrogance may turn to humility. With darkness and uncertainty, our being disdainful can turn to compassion. When clouds of unknowing hover over us and helplessness takes over us, then we grow in genuine faith, hope and charity.
Thank God for the sweet experiences of dark nights. Thank God for the pains and aches of uncertainty. They keep us humble. They bring us back to purity.