“Ask a Priest: Is God intervening in my life?”

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Q: To start this off, I do not consider myself a Christian. I consider myself as a spiritualist/Buddhist, but I still believe in God, so I feel like this could be the right place to ask my question. Recently, I was in a deep sadness and asked God for help, and I made a promise that, now that I am back in a more sound state of mind, I fear I will have trouble keeping. I am certain there was some divine intervention, so I do not want to go back to my word. What should I do? -J.F.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Without knowing more about your personal situation or the promise you made, I can only offer general advice.

First, you identify with Buddhism, a spiritual tradition which does not include belief in a creator God who rules the universe. Yet you profess belief in God and called on him in a moment of need. That suggests that you are actually closer to monotheistic religion than you are to Buddhism.

Second, you realize that you yourself can make some kind of promise to this God, however fleeting that promise might be. You now sense that somehow you have reneged on this promise, and this bothers you. Despite this lapse, you feel as if there was “some divine intervention” in your life.

You might do well to assume that you are correct — God is intervening in your life and inviting you to come closer to him. He is a personal God, after all, who wants all of us to enter into a deeper relation with him. He created you, loves you, and wants you to be with him forever in heaven.

Like any good relationship, your union with God is something of a two-way street. You need to do something on your end. You might consider two suggestions.

First, if you can’t fulfill that promise you made, try doing an act of charity, say, for an orphanage or a soup kitchen or a group that helps shut-ins. By helping others we can understand a little better the heart of God who loves us. God understands our weaknesses and realizes that sometimes we make promises that we don’t keep. The key thing here is not to give up. Keep looking to do good things for others.

Second, you might consider learning more about Christianity. Contact a local Catholic parish or diocese to see what courses might be available for people who want to learn about the faith. I won’t try to do a “hard sell” here. But I think you will find that Christianity speaks to the deep questions you have in your heart.

For further reading, try looking at the Gospels. Or browse the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Its question-and-answer format is a helpful introduction to the Catholic faith. Also helpful is Mere Christianity, a classic work by an Anglican, C.S. Lewis’. You might find an audio version of the book easier to follow, since the contents originally appeared in a series of radio talks by Lewis.

That you asked God for help is a sign that you already have some kind of prayer life. Try to go deeper in this area. A book that might help is Opening to God: A Guide to Prayer, by Thomas H. Green. I pray that your spiritual journey leads you closer to our loving Creator.

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