Doubting Thomas and Thomas Merton

Today the Catholic Church and the Malabar Church of St. Thomas in India celebrate St. Thomas – the doubter. Sometimes, I think, Thomas is judged too harshly. After all, he is honest with the apostles and, when Jesus appears, he acknowledges Him as “My Lord and my God.”

But maybe doubt is not the opposite of faith, but, as Thomas Merton writes in New Seeds of Contemplation, faith and doubt both play their role in the spiritual life:

Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish  or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the  contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many questions in  the depths of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding. For every gain in  deep certitude there is a corresponding growth of superficial “doubt.” This doubt is  by no means opposed to genuine faith, but it mercilessly examines and  questions the spurious ‘faith’ of everyday life, the human faith which is nothing but  the passive acceptance of conventional opinion.

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