May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an initiative that was first started over 60 years ago by Mental Health America. This year’s theme is “Tools2Thrive,” so we are excited to share suggestions each week of different types of prayer that can support a strong spiritual practice and a healthy mental state.
(See our other posts on Lectio Divina. and the Examen.)
This week’s tool is Praying with the Saints. If you’ve never prayed with the Saints, or you’re not sure how exactly to do so, check out our blog post on How to Pray: With Saints. Here, we’ll talk about why this type of prayer can support strong mental health.
One of the most important aspects of building and maintaining strong mental health is having a community around us to draw strength from and turn to for examples. In addition to our personal communities here on earth – our friends, families, colleagues, and loved ones – we, as Catholics, can turn to the Saints as our heavenly companions as well.
Praying with the Saints, and asking Saints to pray for us, reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles. Whatever you may be dealing with or working through right now, chances are there is a Saint who experienced something similar.
You can turn to a Saint with a similar experience (or any Saint) to ask for their prayers and look to them for inspiration and guidance on how to grow closer to God even amidst your own struggles.
Saint Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illness. She was murdered by her own father, who was afflicted with mental illness of his own after his wife’s death. In praying with Saint Dymphna, we ask for her intercession for those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, or any mental struggles, large or small.
Saint Dymphna, pray for us!
Saint Oscar Romero
Saint Oscar Romero was diagnosed late in his life with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In a time when mental health and mental illness were not often discussed, he was willing to visit a psychiatrist and work through his diagnosis while also continuing to serve his community in El Salvador. In praying with Saint Oscar Romero, we ask for his intercession for all who suffer from chronic conditions, and we look to him for strength and confidence in our vocations, despite struggles.
Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us!
Saint Francis de Sales
When Saint Francis de Sales was 19 and studying at the University, he struggled with depression that was rooted in a feeling of hopelessness and lack of meaning in his own life. Upon overcoming his depression, he devoted himself to God, and it was this experience that helped clarify his calling to the priesthood. In praying with Saint Francis de Sales, we ask for his intercession for those who are depressed and who doubt God’s presence in their lives.
Saint Francis de Sales, pray for us!
There are many more Saints whose examples can inspire us to turn to God as we work to build and maintain a strong mental state.
In the Hallow App, we have Daily Saint sessions that include a background on a specific Saint, then a prayer, quotation, poem, or hymn written by them. This is a great place to start drawing on their examples for your own life! You can also check out our shorter Saints Challenge, where we meditate on the lives and writings of some of Christianity’s most famous saints, or our Saints Prayers Praylist in the Sleep section of the App.
We invite you to join us in praying with these incredible men and women who inspire us to lead more saintly lives.
For now, we’ll leave you with Saint Teresa of Avila’s prayer for peace:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
Note: While prayer is an important part of strong mental health, it is not a standalone solution to severe mental illness such as depression, addiction, severe anxiety, etc. If you are experiencing any of these, we urge you to reach out to a mental health professional in your area.