notre dame montreal

What is the Christian Faith?

2: Why bother with religion?

picture of signposts
Without God life can seem pointless and lacking in direction

Christians believe that faith in God answers our most basic human need for life to have meaning. If we think that possession of some item will be really wonderful and change our lives then we will be disappointed. The things which we desire are often a useful reminder that all of us needs someone bigger than ourselves, but they are never adequate to satisfy us. If we mistake material things for the real thing, then we are doomed to find that eventually our own dreams will break our hearts as they turn out to be shallow and empty. Our desires point beyond ‘things’ towards their real goal in God himself. Jobs, qualifications, relationships, none of these can ever provide that for which we search. The quest always fails, even when the search seems close to its end, we find we have yet another corner to turn. Whatever we think it is that we are pursuing remains elusively ahead of us, evading our grasp. In a church service on Ash Wednesday in Lent, we symbolically place ash on our forehead. This rather graphically reminds us that at the end ‘we are dust and to dust we will return' All the things which we desire and surround ourselves with eventually come to nothing. This is the paradox of the pursuit of pleasure in which many people are engaged. Ultimately pleasure cannot satisfy. Pleasure, ambition, beauty, personal relationships, they all seem to promise so much, and yet when we grasp them, we find that what we were seeking was not located in them. This is the divine dissatisfaction which points us back to God. That need points to the existence of God who can satisfy our spiritual desire. This is the theme of the prayer of St. Augustine which speaks about the origin and the goal of human nature. It is one of the best prayers ever written

‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you’

We are made by God and we experience a deep sense of longing for Him which only he can satisfy. The Psalms in the Bible expressed this

‘As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you.’

Psalm 42. Think of a deer which is exhausted having run through woods, perhaps pursued by wild animals and it eventually finds a stream from which to drink. That is a condition which many will be able to relate to having found faith after a time of metaphorically searching in the wilderness.



3: Knowing God