I was wondering if any of you would understand this and be able to advise me. I am a college freshman who just started really trying to get back into the faith after like ten years of being agnostic. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and it makes being a Catholic kind of difficult for me. Because of my disorder I need to understand things logically or else they won’t click- I just can’t grasp them, or I’ll question them to death. You’d think, what with its precision and complexity, that classic Latin theology would make this easy… but nope. I’m intelligent enough to understand it as a system, but it’s too abstract, I can never truly grasp it at a level wherein it would become natural. It all congeals into a big clot in my head and that frustrates the heck out of me. And that brings me to another problem, mainly that the Catholic college community is very charismatic, and therefore it is very feelings-oriented. Our priest, my friends, the FOCUS Missionaries (I find FOCUS to be very charismatic), etc., they all try to fix my little “head-over-heart” problem, but my mind isn’t wired like that, and all I wind up doing is mimicking others’ lifestyles in an essentially fruitless attempt to feel something/fit in (sometimes I’m honestly not sure which sometimes). I never can really bring myself to feel like a Christian, devotions are dry to me, and I know that we’re supposed to foster a relationship with God (all three persons), but the emotional connections just aren’t there. Also, I feel like one of the strengths of Roman Catholicism - its diversity of spirituality - is supremely confusing for me. I like to know what’s expected of me, I like things straightforward, and Latin spirituality just scrambles my head all up. And because of my intelligence combined with my condition I question the HELL out of everything. So, I feel like the freak all the time because everyone is so normal. I read an interesting study where normal people naturally ask “Why?” to satisfy their intuition, but I’m more predisposed to ask “How?” to satisfy intellect. It’s getting to the point where I’ve practically stagnated and wonder if it’s worth the constant confusion and frustration.
Forgive me, but your concerns all sound like stuff that almost everyone goes through at some point. I wonder if aspergers really has very much to do with it.
Also, about the people who you think have it all together… they probably don’t. They are most likely just not as interested in anything very deep as you are. Again, I don’t see that as being specific to aspergers. Some people are just more interested in ‘why’, some people are more interested in ‘how’, and some people couldn’t care less.
Don’t give up, pray and just do the best you can and get as much guidance as you can from a Priest or spiritual director.
FWIW, Jesus was pretty different from the people around Him, also.
What is normal? Everyone is different.
We all have our issues. I suffer from OCD and it can cause intense anxiety in practicing the faith, which is called scrupulosity.
Hey, Asperger’s here too/college senior! What I like to do is pick an apologetics topic, and dig in. Example, the topic of Revelation and how to interpret it and understand; I can question it to death, but I seek to instead find out the context. Have your priest maybe guide you too, my priest had books/ideas and packets for me to examine. I’ve discovered I’m a super hands on person, such a history fanatic!
Revelation topic I use https://www.amazon.com/Lambs-Supper-Mass-Heaven-Earth/dp/0385496591 from Scott Hahn. It helps me understand the Mass, as well as the book itself. Just one example. And now this topic is settled in my mind, I don’t question it to death anymore. It’s a process of sorting out my thoughts and ideas that’s needed, and it helps me to grow and become more authentic as my own person too.
Pray, take things slow, make sure to digest it. Write down any questions too.
Apologetics studies are an Asperger’s best friend.
You can love. That is the foundation of any relationship. Begin by deciding to love God - always and everywhere. Once love is firmly cemented in your heart, God will work with you on the rest.
But first things first: love.
I feel like that too sometimes. But I am very emotional anyway. I wanted to tell you that if anyone makes you feel Christian because you are not emotional or otherwise the wrong doing is on their part. Having a condition is like an illness. I have the flu (I really do right now). When I read my prayers will sound rough and not as nice as others who don’t have the flu. But it is still just as devotional as if I didn’t have the flu.
Thanks be to the Lord the Church always benefited from emotional devotions and rational ones. There isn’t a stereotype for the perfect Christian from when Christ started the Church. Well He is the stereotype but not really since He is the Son of God, the Messiah. He cannot lead, be worshipped and worship Himself back. So we follow Him and He is perfect but He’s not the stereotype.
Emotions can lead to a lot temptations and mistakes. In some ways you are at an advantage. Just because you don’t feel you have faith does not mean you don’t have it.
Emotions led me to get mad at God and I hated myself back just to stop. It’s not always a gift and Holy Church Fathers teach us that the fall is also written in our heart, we cannot trust all that it comes from there. Imho Christians today put a lot of emphasis on charismatic while many Church Fathers taught us to question ourselves a lot before presenting a revelation to the world, or being certain that an unusual even if the gift of the Holy Spirit or to tell others that the Holy Spirit is in our hearts and He tells us to tell the world this or that.
So you see your condition actually protects you from a lot of pitfalls a Christian can experience. Before psychology who knows maybe the Christian community would have named you the questioning wise guy, since you don’t fall for all the charismatic shows.
May I suggest that Christianity doesn’t really feel like anything.
It’s a relationship with Christ, so you may experience all sorts of different feelings, or none at all, and it’s okay.
Our feelings don’t make us Christian, our choices do.
So then it is time for basics.
The greatest of these is love. When your mind ca assent to that pick one action that shows love. Examples work in a soup kitchen at the women’s center at a crisis pregnancy center.
Then focus on one part of the faith and learn a lot about it. An example would be Franciscan spirituality,another would be one saint.
Keep your focus narrow and learn as much as you can. You don’t need to explain your interest to anyone. Just find one good thing about being Catholic and learn more about it.
Pray for God to show you where you belong.
Read (or listen to) The Interior Castle by Teresa d’Avila. You can get to the 3rd room by yourself (I should talk, I haven’t really gotten out of the 2nd myself), but if you get beyond the 3rd room that will be up to God. There are 7 rooms in all. Only great saints get to the 7th room, but any advance along these lines is something to strive for. There are enormous rewards for those who advance along this path plus rewards in the afterlife that are virtually beyond comprehension. If you can do these things, you will get a taste of heaven in this life. I wish I had started this path much earlier in my life.
Watch this, it ought to whet your appetite:
This is the audiobook. Many’s the time now that I have fallen asleep listening to it, like a far away train journeying on and on into the night:
Do this, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I will pray for you; you should pray for me, because I want to obtain for myself what I’m telling you to obtain for yourself.
What about studying the Catechism? That is the written formula of the faith in a concrete non abstract form? How you prefer to express those beliefs are very varied as you point out, but underneath them all is the foundation on which they all stand and that is set out very clearly in the Catechism.
They try to fix you, but you ain’t broke. There are no other friends in or out of the college who are more similar to you who you feel like you can fit in with?
It’s normal to want to have “solved” the faith kind of like how you solve the problem of dental hygiene, just get into a routine of brushing your teeth every day and you don’t have to think about it any more. But I’m not sure if anyone really has solved it - I think we all spend our whole lives contemplating it
It’s not that they blatantly try to “fix” me- I worded that poorly. Our personalities fit great, but they have a hard time if I ask for advice because they can’t think from my mindset just as I can’t think from theirs.
“The main thing is to make history, not to write it.”- Otto von Bismarck