We all know that the benefits of practicing the Catholic faith are “out of this world.” But, according to a recent study done at Ohio State University, there’s also an important blessing in this world that many religious people like us enjoy: a longer life! Laura Wallace, a doctoral student at Ohio State and the lead author of this study, reported that “Religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life.”
More than 1,000 obituaries from around the nation were examined, and it was determined that people who have religious affiliations live, on average, nearly four years longer than those who don’t. As to why this is the case, Wallace noted that many religions “promote stress-reducing practices [like gratitude and prayer] that may improve health.” She also said that volunteerism and involvement in social organizations (both of which are emphasized in religions like Catholicism) can also lead to a longer life.
None of this, of course, should surprise us. As Catholics we believe that we were not only made by God; we believe that we were also made for God. As St. Augustine put it: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Without a personal relationship with the living Lord of the universe, our lives here on earth are incomplete — and apparently a lot shorter!
Yet another reason to go to Mass every Sunday.