Piety and mental health
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - October 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Because of the pandemic, there is growing concern about the mental health of the people. It seems the mental cases are surging. Many people are getting depressed, gripped in some inescapable worries and anxieties and hardly able to cope with their difficulties, trials and challenges. Their thoughts and reactions are generally negative and dark. There are even signs of discouragement and despair.

It’s good that many people, of course, have sought medical and psychological attention. And some authorities have organized classes, seminars and conferences about self-care and mental fitness to address this issue.

These are very understandable reactions to our current condition. But I believe we should not forget one basic element in all these concerns. And that is that developing a genuine life of piety can greatly help in handling these challenges.

Let’s remember that in the end, we are body and soul. There is something material and biological in us, as well as something spiritual. And if we take our Christian faith seriously, we also know that we are meant to have a supernatural life with God even now, while we are still here in this world.

Though the relationship between the body and the soul, the natural and the supernatural is wrapped in mystery, we also know that what happens in the body is somehow caused by our spiritual soul as well as affects it.

It’s also vice-versa. How our spiritual soul is affects our body. If the spiritual soul is healthy, as expressed in our thoughts and desires, then the body would also be healthy, unless there are some underlying organic disorders. We would have peace and joy inside us, and our outlook would be positive and bright.

Again, if we take our Christian faith seriously, we know that it is actually our spiritual soul that gives life to our body. Of course, our soul has to be properly animated by the true spirit, which is the Spirit of God. Regarding this point, Christ said: “The Spirit gives life. The flesh counts for nothing…” (Jn 6,63)

This is where the value of piety comes in, playing a crucial role in keeping us healthy mentally, emotionally, psychologically and even physically. Piety is our relationship with God. It is nourished by God’s gifts of faith, hope and charity to which we have to correspond knowingly, freely, and lovingly.

We have to realize more deeply our need to have a genuine life of piety to be truly healthy, first in the spirit and then in the body. We have to spread this Good News widely. It hardly involves money or some material things. What only is needed is an act of faith, which is something spiritual, a matter of our will and intelligence.

For this, we really have to learn to pray, to refer everything to God whom we have to regard as our Father who never fails us. Our belief and love for him should be such that we trust him for everything, even in those things that humanly speaking cannot anymore have human solutions.

This means that we also have to develop a certain sense of abandonment in the hands of God. It should be such that whatever happens in our life, we can still remain calm, cheerful, optimistic and confident.

Let’s not leave behind this need for piety even as we look for human solutions to our problems and challenges and develop good mental health!

roycimagala@gmail.com

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