We are fallen people, wounded people, scarred by Original Sin. It makes temptation difficult to resist. It clouds our vision and our understanding.
We all have doubts from time to time. Something happens, a thought passes through our mind, or there is an aspect of our faith we don't quite understand. Is God really there? we ask. Does he really love us? Can we really trust and believe what the Church teaches? If a priest lets us down or we have a bad experience or even if we just hear about what happens to others it can trouble us in faith, shake our foundations. We may drift away, or feel a little less confident inside.
And of course, there are arguments, persuasions that can deal with some of our troubles. A question can be answered. A doubt explained away. A disappointment with one priest satisfied by the kindness of another. And there is no question that we could all be better informed about the faith. Often when we are challenged, we don't have the knowledge or information to answer the one who questions, or troubles, or even ridicules us.
And the most convincing argument, the answer to all our doubts, the greatest attraction to faith will not be one argument won or lost. It will not be a book or a pamphlet. It is unlikely to be the persuasive words of a preacher heard on street corner or doorstep or television or radio.
It is the personal encounter which makes all the difference. The family member who perseveres with the faith year after year; the neighbour or friend whose kindness and compassion is so impressive; the personality, hardly known, whose life-story is compelling and challenging; all of these turn the heart and challenge us in our belief. And more than anything, the encounter with Christ himself, in worship, in prayer, in the stillness of our hearts, in the love and generosity of others. Meeting his heart makes our heart beat with greater certainty and purpose.
Not that this encounter of the heart teaches us everything, or even anything very much. Like the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration we know that it is wonderful, but we do not yet fully or understand or even quite know what to say. But the meeting with Christ touches our hearts, and turns us to him so that we may listen to him, and learn from him, and grow in the understanding of what we believe.