In Ireland in the past discrimination against people based on their religious beliefs was the norm in certain areas. I firmly believe in building closer relationships with other Christian churches and I think it’s important to understand other faiths. I believe education on the topic of religion brings about peace and understanding. Nobody should feel ashamed of being religious.
In the run up to the Pope’s visit I’m saddened to see such bad press on a daily basis. I myself am a very spiritual person. I love writing poetry, experiencing nature, engaging in deep and meaningful conversations. I believe in God – at night, before I go to bed, I enjoy nothing more than a cigarette outside beneath the stars and I chat, casually, to God.
I was raised predominantly by my grandmother and she passed away when I was seven years old. I still miss the woman who practically reared me and I still talk to her on a daily basis. I remember that day vividly, sitting by her deathbed, my legs not long enough for my feet to touch the ground. I felt, on that day, like the most vulnerable child in Ireland.
On my 18th birthday I buried my best friend. The morning that she died I had no choice but to hold back the tears as I sat my leaving cert German oral. A few short weeks later my cousin took his own life. That was a very, very dark year for me, on New Year’s eve that year I drank the hours away and at midnight I composed the words; “2016 may we never see the likes again, 2016 was hell, I’ll rise once more, I’ve lived to tell”.
I had lost faith. How could God do this? I begged for proof, and I searched for proof. I found proof. On one particularly painful day, in grief I locked myself in the bathroom, I could not stop crying. I was so upset that I was vomiting. For the first time since the death of my best friend I prayed, in a nonconventional way – I screamed to God “Help me!! Send help! I need help!” Just after I’d uttered that prayer my phone lit up. A friend who I hadn’t spoken to in years had text me saying “I know this is random, I was just lighting a candle in a Church and suddenly felt an urge to text you, are you okay?” My faith was restored with that message.
I’ve seen hard times, I’m no stranger to pain, but it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I discovered God was the rock at the bottom.
Faith is deeply personal to me and I would never impose it on anyone else. I will be going to see the Pope in a few weeks time. I can’t wait to see him and pray with him. I’m 20 years of age and lots of my friends are also going. These negative headlines which I read every day are hurtful. This week alone I’ve seen some articles that I felt were extremely biased and actively tried to paint the Pope’s visit in an negative light to deter people from attending the event.
I don’t care what anyone thinks of my beliefs, I’m not going to push my beliefs on anyone. But I’d appreciate if my friends and I could gather in Dublin to pray together without judgement and negativity.
The reality is that the Pope is very kind to minority groups, he will, in fact, be meeting with the homeless when he comes to Ireland. Pope Francis has always shown great concern and love for certain marginalised groups. He has criticised a number of Donald Trump’s policies and he has invited refugees to the Vatican.
Let’s build bridges, not walls. Let’s be respectful of others’ beliefs. Let’s be nice to one another and love one another. Let’s be positive. Before we attack other people’s beliefs on a social media platform, let us pause and understand that faith is something which some people hold dear and that it is a deeply personal thing – my faith, for example, stems from my tough times in my life.