Monday, July 13, 2015

A Fly Under the Lens

As for what you say in your esteemed letter concerning temptations against the Faith, pay no attention to them. They are not real temptations. Your faith is immovable and secure in the depths of your soul: it was infused in your Baptism and has been fortified by other Sacraments. This does not prevent these fears and a certain trepidation from arising on the surface of the soul, as also doubts that are not real but apparent: things that God allows as trials to the souls most dear to Him, so that they may be more active and vigilant in His love and may purify themselves by means of tribulation. I do not consider them in the least dangerous or to be made account of. On the contrary, the more you despise them and treat them as movements of the imagination and sensitive nature (as they really are), the more easily they disappear of their own accord or become weakened. If you take these things seriously, and give them an importance they do not possess, it is easy to become disturbed and fearful: and fear and sadness have the effect of a lens that enlarges a fly until it appears an elephant. Nay they do more, for a soul filled with vain fear sees what does not exist.

Bl. Antonio Rosmini, Letters, on Chiefly Religious Subjects, p. 639.


  1. Timotheos2:59 AM

    I've thought the same thing to myself a number of times, but it's good to see someone with some real authority on these things bless such an idea.

  2. Enbrethiliel3:52 AM


    Rosmini's diagnosis of fear in the loss of faith is interesting, because it is the conclusion I came to in my conversations with a friend whose doubts have been a snowball rolling downhill for some time. I was surprised to conclude that, because she has had some solid arguments and reasoning, and because I thought she was just following an intellectual white rabbit down its hole. But eventually she revealed that she had felt incredibly hurt by religion in the past and could see no guarantees that she would never be hurt by religion again in the future. To point that out, however, seems a bit below the belt--especially since the discussion has been about the evidence for Christianity and why she thinks it doesn't stand up to reason.

    But let's say we get to the point where I bring it up. Does Rosimini have a practical recommendation for dealing with fear so that we stop seeing flies through those lenses?

  3. branemrys6:36 AM

    "What we want is a holy liberty of spirit, cheerful thoughts, reflections on the goodness of God or the Paradise that is awaiting us, moderate recreation and physical relaxation, together with a complete abandonment of self into the arms of the Divine clemency, and confidential intercourse with the sweet Mother of hope, Mary most holy."

    He is talking specifically to a priest, so that might skew the advice, so to speak. But I think (I am extrapolating here) his view is that it's not the sort of thing that can be approached head on, but only indirectly. In that sense perhaps it's like a fear of horses based on a traumatic event: you'll only get over it to the extent you go on to let yourself enjoy yourself in horse-related contexts -- even if only small ones at first -- because the thing you need to do is stop thinking about the fearful things and start looking at the good things.

  4. Enbrethiliel11:54 PM


    I had similar ideas about approaching the problem indirectly. What she and I seem to agree on is that if two people can look at the exact same evidence and come to different conclusions, then believing depends upon the kind of person one is. And the way to change the kind of person you are is to change the things you do.


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