Why We Need Doubting Thomas

Why We Need Doubting Thomas

This weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter which is most commonly known for its reading of the Gospel about the Apostle Thomas, known to us as “Doubting Thomas.” The nickname stems from our own pejorative tendency to reprove those who exhibit their doubt openly, even though it is something that each of us is guilty. Haven’t we all doubted a little? Haven’t we all wished there could be a definitive sign to prove that which we believe?

Unfortunately, the fear of being a “doubter” is persistent in the Church. It is as if the ghosts of some past priest, nun, religious instructor, or even parents look over us and shame us for what amounts to nothing more than having common sense.

We feel a collective anxiety in admitting that it is difficult to believe in something that you can’t see and in our collective discomfort, we put the blame on someone else. Doubting Thomas becomes a scapegoat who enables us to outsource the fear of being judged for all the doubts which are quite natural to have.

This hasn’t always been the case in the culture of the Church. There have been periods of time where the simultaneity of doubt and faith where treated as equal partners in the dance of exploring God’s mystery. Pope St. Gregory the Great describes the story from the Gospel this weekend in the following words:

“Do you really believe that it was by chance that Thomas was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God’s providence. In a marvelous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples.”

The words of Pope St. Gregory the Great highlight that the trajectory of human experience is one of movement. In our life, we move (or ought to move) from childishness to maturity. We move from fear to love. We move from sorrow to joy, and we move from doubt to faith.

It is this irreproachable and constant movement, our persistent “evolution of being” which truly defines our legacy as a church community, not static rules, unchanging rubrics, or inaccurately placed phobias of empirical truth. When our church community is at its best, we celebrate the miracle of dynamic growth that shapes and reshapes who we are. Its why we gather, and continue to gather, so that we can learn from each other. It is the.. reason for our faith.
From the beginning of the calendar year we have been positing that question quietly in our articles, in our selection for One Book One Parish, in our social media, and conversations from parish leaders. “What’s your reason?” “Why are you Catholic?” “How has your life been changed by faith in God?” Maybe this week we could add the question “How are you like Thomas?”

Next weekend, we have a summit planned around these questions, it is our annual parish mission held at 6:30pm on April 15, 16 & 17 in our chapel. It will be a three-night series of talks exploring our theme “Got Faith? Finding a Reason for Faith.” We hope you will attend at least one, if not all three of the nights and make of it a sort of spiritual retreat located here in your parish home.

At the parish mission you will find a set of conversations built around the question “What’s your reason for being Catholic?” Hopefully you’ll find that doubts and questions aren’t a denial of belief but part of the process of growing in faith, and moreover that we as a parish community are here to enable one another in that ongoing process. Together, we can be like Doubting Thomas and find answers to the questions we have about faith in the journey of life. I hope you’ll join us!

-David Heimann
Pastoral Associates

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Our Parish Mission:

The Saint Andrew Parish Mission is held jointly with Saint Benedict Parish once a year. This year it will be held on
Sunday, April 15, at 6:30pm
Monday, April 16 at 6:30pm
Tuesday, April 17 at 6:30pm

What is a Parish Mission:

Think of a Parish Mission like a spiritual retreat. Often at a spiritual retreat, you’ll hear from a retreat master who gives a set of themed talks to help guide your own spiritual exploration. Most of us don’t have the time or resources to take several days to travel to a retreat house and have such an experience, but we can make a retreat with our fellow parishioners at a Parish Mission. While carrying on with work days and family responsibilities, you can enjoy the centerpiece of a retreat experience which will also become the centerpiece for our parish’s conversation on spiritual growth for the weeks and months ahead. Attend what you can of the mission. Come all three nights if that is possible, but even one night can have significant rewards in your spiritual journey.

Is it Really for All Ages?:

Yes! Our speaker has been prepared to address a group from teenagers to older adults and has something to offer for everyone. If you are single person living in the neighborhood or a family just trying to get it all done, we’ve designed this retreat to accommodate you! We begin at 6:30 which is time for you to come from work and we end by 7:45 (with the option of a light reception afterwards) so that families with young children can start their bedtime routines for school the next day. Younger children are invited to start with the prayer service in the chapel at 6:30pm and then can elect to join the children’s program in the Social Hall (similar to how Liturgy of the Word for Children runs during our 10am Mass on Sundays).

What is the Dinner All About?:

The dinner is provided for your convenience, but not a necessary requirement for participating in the Parish Mission. At 6:00pm we will have a simple dinner provided so that individuals coming from work don’t need to worry about dinner at home. Just come as you are and relax! A donation of $5 per individual or $10 per family makes it an easy and care-free evening to spend with your parish family at our annual parish retreat.

Menu includes:
Sunday night: Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese, salad
Monday night: Italian Pasta, salad
Tuesday night: Sandwiches, chips, salad.

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