First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on January 13, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/finding-holiness-is-a-lifelong-journey
Holiness – is it possible for someone with a mental illness? It’s a possibility and a work of grace for all of us. We can’t make ourselves holy on our own. Allowing the Holy Spirit to move in our minds and hearts to act in good will helps us get to heaven.
I’ve been reflecting on holiness and how my personal sin affects the community. After a recent confession, I realized I could fall more in love with Jesus. I would then want to sin less when I had my eyes on him.
We need perseverance because we are weak and fall many times. Jesus loves us so wildly. I can’t even imagine how much he loves me!
His love is immense and as hard to fathom as the size of the stars in the universe, which contains countless stars larger than the sun!
Chatting on the phone with a friend about the struggles and silver linings of mental illness, I shared my own experiences and we discussed those in our families. We then switched topics and affirmed each other on how we fight a battle for holiness in our lives. I paced my room in excited passion for the conversation we were having. We swapped back and forth different quotes, from Scripture to recent homilies we had heard.
The conversation with my friend warmed my heart to know that I’m not alone in this adventurous journey of faith.
My favourite stories about long journeys are C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. When the Pevensie children meet Aslan for the first time in Narnia, it’s thrilling. And when Frodo the Hobbit agrees to go on a treacherous journey to save Middle Earth, it inspires me.
A video series that has been offering me enjoyment lately is Letters to Myself from the End of the World on WILDGOOSE.TV. It is a series of conversations with Father Dave Pivonka and Emily Stimpson Chapman based on the chapters of her book with the same title. I love the authentic and casual conversation they have filmed in her home.
Before watching the videos I felt in a dry, desert-like state, whereas during them I wanted to draw closer to Jesus in prayer. Prompted by the Holy Spirit after watching one video, I called up my friend and we prayed a Rosary together. I’m so glad we did; we had many intentions to pray for and the company was like a spiritual boost for the soul.
With my phone tucked in the folds of my blankets I sat in bed with my blue-beaded rosary in my hands. My friend led a Scriptural reflection on each mystery of the Rosary as we prayed. Her smooth voice softly floated from my cell phone speaker and brought me peace. My anxiety still catches up with me at night, so that evening Rosary over the phone helped me to stay calm.
It’s a blessing to have friends who I can call any time for a chat or a prayer. With chronic illness, prayer is a soothing balm. When I don’t feel like praying, I can find inspiration in someone else who does – whether it’s with friends or family, or with a popular app that contains an amazing amount of Catholic content, Hallow.
I used Hallow in the hospital last fall when I couldn’t sleep. From my hospital room I could hear trains blasting their horns at all hours of the night and early in the morning. Nurses would open the door and flash a light on me to see if I was sleeping. It wasn’t restful, so I would pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary on Hallow. I listened to the soothing voices of Jonathan Roumie (Jesus from The Chosen series) and Bishop Barron as they prayed.
I’m so happy that Jesus provides me with the people, places, and tools I need to nurture my interior life. They all help me on the lifelong journey of holiness – a path to sanctity.
We are all invited to become saints, and in the hospital I could feel all the prayers of my family and friends. They held me up and encouraged me to keep hoping for a swift recovery.
I pray I can craft a life of holiness – by picking up the cross of bipolar disorder, living a life of faith, and depending on God.
Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.