By Tiffany J Haller, Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry
St. Ann Catholic Church
When I was asked to write a “Faith Matters” article, I did not know what I was getting myself into. I enjoy writing and thought it would be a good experience. Then, as the deadline approached, I had a question. What is the purpose of “Faith Matters”? The answer: usually it involves socially relevant topics. An example was the recent shootings. I then thought to myself, “Oh, Lord! I do not want to go there! It is too hard, too devastating, too controversial. Then there are COVID, masking, and vaccines. There is the war in the Ukraine. The rise of anxiety and depression as a result of all of these occurrences is at an all time high. If we have learned anything through all of this, it is that life is unpredictable and we all suffer. And this is why faith matters.
As the Holy Spirit does, He showed up in a big way for me today. When listening to podcasts while working, I noticed the app shuffled podcasts in an order I would not have chosen. However, Ave Spotlight Episode 94 “Saints Who Struggled with Mental Issues” with Tommy Teigle popped up while I was too involved in my work to change what I was listening to. The saints are people we may feel very out of touch with. Weren’t they “perfect” people who lived some type of idealistic life? Most lived decades, if not centuries, before our time. What could they possibly have to teach us? But as I listened, I was reminded that, as humans, we have more in common than we often realize. There were several saints mentioned in the discussion: women and men from all different walks of life and time periods. I was familiar with all of them, but I was not aware that they all suffered from mental illness to various degrees. These were real people who had suicide idealizations due to the desperate state of their minds and lives. But God had better plans, and by His grace, they were able to overcome their suffering and live extraordinary lives.
What is God trying to tell you in your suffering? We were all created in love, such love that our hearts and minds cannot even fathom it! Each of us was created in love, by love, and for a specific purpose. We all have a purpose that no one else can fill. No one else was created in the family, the community, or the time in history as you. The statistics for our specific existence are astonishing! So, I would like to ask, what is your heart’s ache? If there were one thing you could change, what would it be? That is a very good indication as to your purpose, your calling to make this world a better place and your distinct contribution to this unpredictable world. Could it be that our suffering can teach us and offer us a way to find solutions to some of the challenges we face? Through it, we are uniquely able to help others who come after and alongside us.
Yes, we are living in trying and devastating times. May I offer that we are the solution. Faith matters because through it we are called to higher things: things we cannot achieve in our own strength but in God’s loving plan for us. Philippians 1:6 states: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV).