Daryl Nonis with his goddaughter, Anastasia.
My New Year’s Resolution: Work on my Relationship with God
After a long hiatus from the Church, Daryl Nonis has reclaimed the faith of his childhood. In this article, he shares his spiritual journey from being a ‘lapsed Catholic’ to a truly practising one, and his resolve to continue rebuilding his relationship with God in concrete ways.
“How do they do it?” I used to find myself jealously wondering how so many Catholics managed to maintain such an amazing relationship with God. I have since learnt that God, in His infinite wisdom and power, is always with each one of us, and that I need only to rely on His help and strength.
“Baptised at birth, I grew up learning about Him, loving Him and praying for his help and guidance. It was as a part of my family life that I assumed would always be there. Some years ago, however, I began drifting away from God when I first started working. I had signed on with the Republic of Singapore Navy as a gunner on a ship, and found the pay good and the work fulfilling. Unfortunately, I allowed my job to take up so much of my time and energy that it kicked off an absence from Church that lasted seven long years.
“As I was in the prime of my life and enjoying good times with my colleagues and friends, it was easy to convince myself that I did not need to go to Church and receive Christ through the Eucharist, much less to journey with a Christian community. Very quickly, praying alone was enough for me as I felt that He would understand the situation I was in. Since God is everywhere, I thought that I could simply reach Him wherever I was and whenever I needed Him.
This mentality moved me further and further away from Him. My relationship with Him became very transactional. Eventually, even though I had free time on Sundays, weekends would come and go without a single thought of church or Mass. When she could, my mother would try to convince me to join her for Mass, but her efforts were always rebuffed.
Returning to Church
Upon leaving the Navy in 2014, the void in my life quickly became apparent. I began to realise how much I missed God in my life, and slowly but surely, a longing for a relationship with my Lord and protector overwhelmed me.
Thanks to my mum who planted the seeds of faith in me when I was young, returning to the Church was as simple as saying “Yes”. One fine day, when I suddenly agreed to accompany my mother to Mass, I saw her face light up with a mixture of joy, surprise and relief. I later found out that she had constantly been asking God to guide me back to the Church. When I finally joined her, she could hardly contain her happiness.
My first Mass in seven years was familiar, yet strange. I had not heard about the changes to the Mass, so when the priest said, “The Lord be with you”, I bellowed a resounding, “And also with you!”, while the rest of the congregation responded, “And with your spirit.”
The embarrassment caused me to spend the rest of that Mass and the next few Sunday Masses in silence, learning the correct responses so that I could participate fully. I was comforted and humbled by my mum’s unwavering encouragement, bringing back memories of myself as a little boy in a church attempting to follow the Mass from the missal, while she beamed proudly at me.
Journey of Rediscovery
Since then, my journey to rediscover the faith has had its ups and downs. Through it all, I am reminded how much God loves me, just as I am, in spite of my unfaithfulness. I owe a lot to my mum, and am grateful to God for her. She has always been faithful to God and the Church, and is His instrument, showing me the way back to Him. She prayed for me throughout my years of spiritual exile and continues to pray for me now.
Looking back, during these seven years, there were periods of pain and hardship where I needed Him more than ever – He would have guided my decisions and shown me a better path.
Today, I have reclaimed my identity as a son of God and I find life to be more purposeful and meaningful. While I am no longer a ‘lapsed Catholic’, I know that I am far from being holy or perfect. I do hope to continue drawing closer to God each day. I am also now a godfather to my amazing niece. While I am excited to help guide her in the faith, I need to work on my own faith first.
Therefore, for the new year, I am making a few faith-based resolutions to deepen my relationship with the Lord and live the life of Christ in me.
The first of which is to go for confession more frequently. This will better prepare me spiritually to receive Christ in Holy Communion. I am also resolved to attend weekday Masses more regularly.
The second is to spend quiet time with Him in prayer. Ironically, the busier my day gets, the more I find myself needing it. A simple solution for me is to wake up earlier, start the day with the Morning Prayer and daily Scripture reflection. I also want to end each day by prayerfully reflecting on the day’s events, and discerning God’s direction for me.
My final resolution is to be more thankful to God for his abundant blessings. He has given me so many wonderful things that I am grateful for, and a simple way I can show my gratitude is to be more generous to others with what I have received. To me, generosity is much more than just taking out a $50 note from my wallet when the collection bag comes by. It is also about being concerned and genuine about wanting to help those in need.
I pray that God will continue to help me deepen my relationship with Him, and grace me to be more sensitive to the needs of others, especially the poor and destitute, my family members and friends, and the Church.