We always need faith, and the longer we live the greater our need becomes.  I used to think that as one got older faith would become more solid, easier after all those years of practice.  That was a naïve belief, a kind of wishful thinking.  The truth is the more our experience broadens, the more we need faith because we become more aware of how impenetrable life is.

We come to realize more and more the extent of evil in the world.  We experience the passive diminishments of advancing age.  We become more aware of our limitations in dealing with the difficulties that come into our lives.  In other words, any youthful illusions of invulnerability or omnipotence having been shattered, we recognize a greater need or faith.  How could we cope with all that without faith?
Father John Kavanaugh tells of a personal experience that contains a great insight about faith.  Perhaps we can resonate with it in our own way. He recalls that long ago he spent a month working at the “house of the dying” in Calcutta.  He had gone there on a retreat, seeking a sure answer about his future.

On his first morning there he met Mother Teresa after Mass.  She asked: “What can I do for you?  He asked her to pray for him.  “And what do you want me to pray for?”responded Mother Teresa.   He replied: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said no.  When he asked why, she said clarity was the last thing he was clinging to and had to let go.  When Father Kavanugh replied that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said: “I have never had clarity.  What I always had is trust.  I will pray that you trust.”

Mother Teresa could just as well have said I pray that you have faith.  That wonderful definition of faith offered by St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews provides grounds for taking trust and faith as synonyms.  “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.”

Faith does not bring final clarity in this life.  It does not eliminate all difficulties.  It does not always dull pain.  Faith is not a crutch, enabling us to walk straighter.  When all else is unclear faith says: “Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.”  We would do well to imitate the man in the gospel who prayed: “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!”