Faith involves us being present with something beyond ourselves. In my Catholic faith, I believe that there is a God, the Loving Father, the Son who died for us, and the Holy Spirit as the guiding light who keeps us in check.
My faith has sustained through the most difficult times in my life. A year ago, when depression hit me without warning, I made a crucial decision to take a break from school. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, considering that most Asian cultures in general still view mental health issues as a stigma-- an outbreak of warped minds and delusional thoughts.
If you happen to be one of the fortunate people working in mental health fields, you know how hard it is to deal with these illnesses; dedicating many hours to school, getting licensed, and finally with the degree in hand, to go out and apply what you’ve learned on real patients and their traumatic situations.
Now, what role does faith play here? Faith is what keeps you strong. Faith is believing that you could overcome all obstacles despite what other people may say about you. Faith is knowing what your purpose and passions are so that you can use your talents to help other people.
Growing up Catholic, I attended Mass with my family every Sunday, and would always feel guilty of falling asleep halfway through the homily. I received my First Communion when I was 9 years old at my parish.
At the time, my childish innocence did not allow me to understand the significance of the Sacred Host. Confessing my sins to a priest was not easy; however, I only knew a bit from what I learned from Sunday school that God is a loving merciful Father who loves and protects his children no matter what situation I find myself in.
One of the things that I was taught to do was to recite the Hail Mary prayer or say the full Rosary prayer whenever I started worrying. While that method worked well when I was younger, going through depression a year ago taught me that I needed more than just prayer, going to mass and going to Reconciliation. I needed professional mental health help.
That is when I realized that God has given me wonderful psychiatrists and therapists who lovingly listened to me talk about my issues without judging me. With many gifts, God has given these healers the gift of empathy, compassion, and understanding no matter what I was going through at that time.
Through their encouragements, I could feel that God is beside me, reassuring me that this trial would pass and I would be okay. And I believe that with my whole heart. This perspective is what it means to have faith.
In addition, I made an effort to go up to the big Blessed Mother Statue 20 minutes from my house to pray, lie down on the soft green grass, and just feel the light wind blowing on my face. Faith is what makes my heart feel peaceful despite the chaos of life.
God is actively working in my life even though sometimes I am not aware.
I like how Pope Francis answered one journalist’s question when he was asked how he felt about the LGBT population. He said without hesitation, “Who am I to judge those who seek God in good faith?" That’s a one million dollar answer right there and he probably surprised those around him. With my Catholic faith, I know that the answer does not come from him alone but from God Himself. God is the Alpha and Omega who does not judge His Children. He embraces those who come to him with a truthful heart.
Pope Francis is a game changer who makes the effort to recover the warped perception of the Catholic Church due to the media’s influences. I must admit, it makes me very sad to see news of sex scandals, bad priests, etc, you name it that painted a very bad reputation of the Church.
However, I know that my faith is what keeps me strong. It gives me a purpose to live life as best as I could. It sustains me because the Lord is my Loving Father who is there for me even though I cannot see Him with my naked eye. I can feel Him because of the overwhelming support I get when I was going through a difficult moment in my life. Faith is, a truly beautiful gift to have because believing what I am not seeing--is courage from within.