In this week’s blog, Fr Paddy reflects on the fact that life is full of questions and encourages an openness that will bring answers.

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Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared on 23rd September 2009

One of the greatest minds ever to live, Albert Einstein once said

The important thing is to not start questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for success.

I have spent some time recently with a faith filled friend, living with Cancer at a very young age. She has Cancer of the Ovaries diagnosed two years ago. Maeve enjoyed a very successful career with the Civil Service, when diagnosed at the very young age of thirty three. Her life was turned up side down. From being absolutely in control, she had to become accustomed to care of family and medical staff. I know that she continued to struggle greatly with this vulnerable reality. We spent time in prayer together and asked the Question, where was God in all of this pain and suffering? This was one of the most profound encounters with the Risen Christ that I have ever considered. Maeve simply responded, If it is not me, why not

Most of us have the experience of asking a big question and not being able to find an appropriate answer. As we journey through life, it is true for us all, that there are much more questions than answers. Often it is when we ask the right questions that we may experience a new insight or sense of enlightenment. For this reason to question is an important endeavor as we walk the many hills and valleys contained within all our stories. What is our life ultimately all about? Who am I? Am I fulfilled? Why do some people suffer much greater than others? Why do they always seem so happy? Why do some people die young? What happens to us after we die? Do I really believe in God?

One of the great Fathers of Greek philosophy, once in his wisdom remarked,

The unreflective life is not worth living.

A worrying trend in modern culture is that we can become blind to the bigger picture in all our lives. Our minds can become so cluttered and bombarded with information we can almost forget to absorb and indeed taste what is the bigger picture. Despite a deep recession, and massive unemployment, we all have reasons to hope. These are not superficial, if we hold unto a fundamental faith; we can despite confusion and doubt, look forward, to the future with confidence and hope.

My friend would willingly swap a wining lotto ticket if she was free from terminal cancer. In the same way she openly jests at the mindless worry, engaged by so many trivia that take us away from glimpses of the true light that surrounds us on our way. Perhaps as we mature and grow on our journey we become more comfortable with such questions. To be honest how can we have answers? All we are invited by the Lord is to be honest and open. Lord, like the Sun peering through a confusion of trees, bring your light and hope to all our hearts. Shine your love into the confusion of lives and give us meaning.