This I Believe

Michael - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on January 3, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I believe in Faith

I learned about Faith from my mother. She has a simple strong faith in her beloved Catholic Church. The mysteries of the Church guide her through good times and bad. She finds inspiration in the rituals of the Mass. Her Faith, in conjunction with a lit candle, or a prayer to St. Anthony, or a gift to the Sisters of the Poor produces miracles – small miracles – in our lives, like finding dad’s wallet at the Mall, or a sunny, 65 degree wedding day in an otherwise cold and grey Kentucky December, or the recovery of a deathly sick grandchild. Her faith was unmoved when my beliefs were shaken by change; by Vatican II, controversies on birth control and celibacy, scandals over pedophile priests. I used to be frustrated over mom’s naïve views on religion. It’s taken 40 years but I finally realized that mom’s faith is not naïve but deep and profound.

We tend to confuse belief and faith. What we believe is a product of the mind. Walk into any organization and ask what they believe and you will likely receive a document; the Baltimore Catechism, the Ten Commandments, the Communist Manifesto, the Declaration of Independence, the Republican Platform, the Boy Scout Handbook, the corporate mission statement. Words come easily to our beliefs. Belief is logical and as such can be used to unite or divide, to create peace or start war.

Ask these same people what they have faith in and they will hesitate and struggle to find words. Faith is a gift of the soul. Faith resides in the heart, not in the brain. We have many beliefs, but a common faith. Faith in the greater good, faith in a higher power, faith in mankind. Beliefs are complex, Faith is primitive. Beliefs are tribal, Faith is universal. The world praised Pope John Paul II’s faith, but people vigorously defended, or vehemently disagreed with his beliefs.

I’ve suffered my entire life from Depression. It’s a painful and terrible disease that steals your energy, joy, and at its worst your desire to live. Depression is dangerous. Around 5% of people suffering from depression commit suicide. Depression is a disease of the brain. And in the depths, what we believe is also diseased. We believe we are worthless, not deserving of love. We believe life is meaningless. We believe God has abandoned us. We believe that our friends and family would be happier if we were dead.

I’m not surprised that so many of us with depression choose to die by our own hand. What does surprise me is that the great majority of us choose to live. This I do believe —- that Faith is life-giving, that Faith keeps us alive. Faith reminds us that no matter what we believe, somehow our lives do have value, our families and friends do love us, we deserve and will experience goodness, a Supreme Being is watching over and protecting us, there is a reason for us to be here on this good earth.