Mental illness and Holy Communion


#1

I visited a relative tonight who is in a psychiatric hospital. Sadly, her condition is chronic and has simply reached a crisis point right now. She is a baptized and confirmed Catholic, but does not regularly attend Mass and has not for many years, probably all of her adult life. During our visit, she asked me 3 times to bring her Holy Communion. In speaking to my mother-in-law, I discovered that she has also requested Communion when speaking to my mil on the phone. She is not capable of making a good confession at this point, if ever. Could she received anointing of the sick and then received Communion?

I plan to contact the parish in which the hospital is located tomorrow, but I was hoping someone here might be able to give me some direction tonight.


#2

[quote="babochka, post:1, topic:316258"]
She is not capable of making a good confession at this point, if ever.

[/quote]

This is not your call to make. This is something for the priest to assess.

[quote="babochka, post:1, topic:316258"]

Could she received anointing of the sick and then received Communion?

[/quote]

The priest will determine what needs to be done.

[quote="babochka, post:1, topic:316258"]
I plan to contact the parish in which the hospital is located tomorrow, but I was hoping someone here might be able to give me some direction tonight.

[/quote]

By all means, have the priest visit her as soon as possible.


#3

[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:316258"]
This is not your call to make. This is something for the priest to assess.

[/quote]

Perhaps not, but I'm a licensed Clinical Social Worker and I've got a pretty good idea as to her mental state. :) I will call the priest, though. I would hate for somebody to not receive the sacraments who has expressed such a desire for it.


#4

There are many people that I see receiving Holy Communion that I do not think are in a state of grace to receive it. Am I to tell the priest? I should get the priest for people with mental illness? My cousin never goes to mass. She receives’ Holy Communion at all the funerals. Should I let a priest know? Should I ask her if she goes to confession?


#5

[quote="gabanzo, post:4, topic:316258"]
There are many people that I see receiving Holy Communion that I do not think are in a state of grace to receive it. Am I to tell the priest? I should get the priest for people with mental illness? My cousin never goes to mass. She receives' Holy Communion at all the funerals. Should I let a priest know? Should I ask her if she goes to confession?

[/quote]

No it is not up to us to see that those around us are in a state of grace or not. That is between each individual and God. Nobody "checks up" on you do they?


#6

I agree that you should talk to a priest but I will offer another part to this story: the law. Patients in a hospital or care home have legal rights to voting and religious expression and decisionmaking capacity often has less to do with it than the patient’s will to vote or receive Communion.


#7

[quote="Auntie_A, post:6, topic:316258"]
I agree that you should talk to a priest but I will offer another part to this story: the law. Patients in a hospital or care home have legal rights to voting and religious expression and decisionmaking capacity often has less to do with it than the patient's will to vote or receive Communion.

[/quote]

Could the State really impose on the priest that he give her Communion if in his opinion she is not mentally competent or able to do so in a respectful manner? It's no more stringent a requirement than what is required of children before they are admitted to Communion.


#8

[quote="Phemie, post:7, topic:316258"]
Could the State really impose on the priest that he give her Communion if in his opinion she is not mentally competent or able to do so in a respectful manner? It's no more stringent a requirement than what is required of children before they are admitted to Communion.

[/quote]

No, I think this has more to do with her right to see a priest rather than receive Communion.


#9

[quote="enbell, post:5, topic:316258"]
No it is not up to us to see that those around us are in a state of grace or not. That is between each individual and God. Nobody "checks up" on you do they?

[/quote]

I agree! Ultimately, we can only be responsible for ourselves as we stand before God.

I agree that it is the priest's call to make as to whether she is in a state to receive Communion. She is relatively unchatechizied and severely mentally ill, both of which could reduce her culpability for any sins. At any rate, I'm off to Mass and I hope to speak to the priest this morning.


#10

I spoke with the priest this morning. The parish I attended is actually the parish for the hospital, and the parish makes regular visits there, including Mass once a month. Since she might not accept Communion from somebody that she doesn’t know, arrangements can be made for me to bring it to her if necessary.


#11

[quote="babochka, post:10, topic:316258"]
I spoke with the priest this morning. The parish I attended is actually the parish for the hospital, and the parish makes regular visits there, including Mass once a month. Since she might not accept Communion from somebody that she doesn't know, arrangements can be made for me to bring it to her if necessary.

[/quote]

Great news :)


#12

Forgive me if I did not make this clear. Of course the state cannot dictate how clergy should administer to his parishioner. This law exists so that a facility cannot restrict someone from their religious worship. Many times, especially with mental illness and dementias, a patient is treated like an infant and their requests for prayer, worship, chaplains, etc. are minimized or ignored. The law protects them from neglect in these areas, as well as physical neglect and abuse. A good Social Services person, Activities Coordinator, Recreational Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Nurse, etc. should be able to advocate for a patient’s spiritual needs within their home or facility; Their affiliated church, once contacted, is left to figure HOW to administer to the patient. There is no law affecting the “HOW”, just that the patient has access.


#13

I took care of my mother for 7 years and she did not have the mental capacity to make a good confession. I took her to Communion every Sunday. The priest said it was ok.


#14

I think that perhaps a little clarification about mental illness might be in order here.

There are more people than you realize that suffer from mental illness, which includes depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, bi-polar, etc. Many people who are mentally ill are able to function in society with the help of the appropriate medication and good psychiatric care.

My husband is bi-polar. One of his problems is that he cannot bear large crowds and becomes paniced easily. Our Bishop made a number of allowances for my husband to be brought into the Church, the largest being approving Calvin's Baptism, First Eucharist and Confirmation be performed at a local Franciscan Friary by the Minister General there instead of having the sacraments bestowed our parish (a cathedral) in front of 600 people. Also my husband still has bad days, he faithfully attends Mass and sits right up front so he isn't aware of the large crowd behind him. Our pastor brings Communion to Calvin at his pew because of this. Calvin also joined our parish's prayer chain so he can a ministry that doesn't involve being around a lot of people.

I offer Calvin's story to highlight that there are many myths surrounding those who suffer from mental illness. A good compassionate priest is precious. I would think that if the priest regularly visits the person that the OP described, he will build a relationship with her so that she will eventually feel comfortable to receive Communion from him. It's a lot of work for one lost sheep but it highlights the love of the Good Shepherd for all of His sheep. As my husband says, "God loves all His sheep, even the crazy ones."


#15

(QUOTE=Liturgy_Geek;10414454]I think that perhaps a little clarification about mental illness might be in order here.

There are more people than you realize that suffer from mental illness, which includes depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, bi-polar, etc. Many people who are mentally ill are able to function in society with the help of the appropriate medication and good psychiatric care.

My husband is bi-polar. One of his problems is that he cannot bear large crowds and becomes paniced easily. Our Bishop made a number of allowances for my husband to be brought into the Church, the largest being approving Calvin’s Baptism, First Eucharist and Confirmation be performed at a local Franciscan Friary by the Minister General there instead of having the sacraments bestowed our parish (a cathedral) in front of 600 people. Also my husband still has bad days, he faithfully attends Mass and sits right up front so he isn’t aware of the large crowd behind him. Our pastor brings Communion to Calvin at his pew because of this. Calvin also joined our parish’s prayer chain so he can a ministry that doesn’t involve being around a lot of people.

I offer Calvin’s story to highlight that there are many myths surrounding those who suffer from mental illness. A good compassionate priest is precious. I would think that if the priest regularly visits the person that the OP described, he will build a relationship with her so that she will eventually feel comfortable to receive Communion from him. It’s a lot of work for one lost sheep but it highlights the love of the Good Shepherd for all of His sheep. As my husband says, “God loves all His sheep, even the crazy ones.”

Hi!

Thank you for this information, I suffer with anxiety and wish with all my heart to be catholic but am dreading the ceremony that makes me a catholic as I am terrified of being in front of so many people let alone speaking in front of them, I autually find even attending church difficult:o, this has made me put off becoming catholic for many years as I couldn’t find any clear help with this, so what you have said has helped and encouraged me a lot, thank you.:smiley:

I have recently decided to speak to my local parish priest which I am hoping to do in the near future and I am not sure of the reception I am going to get after explaining my issues, for years I was under the impression that somebody with my problems couldn’t even become catholic because they couldn’t sit through the service or in my case at times even attend church:blush: and I admit I am still doubtful and terrified of what is to come.

So thank you to everyone this has been a really interesting thread.:thumbsup:


#16

First off, hugs to you Miss Primrose! :hug3:

Second, please know that you are not alone in the pews. There are many of us.

Third, if you feel comfortable with your priest, please go talk to him and explain your situation. If you don't feel comfortable, it might be beneficial to find a parish where you do feel comfortable with the priest.


#17

Liturgy Geek, I just wanted to comment and thank you for sharing your family’s positive interaction with the Church. I am certain there are many, many more stories like this, of people who do find peace and joy- they just don’t get the airtime.

So, thank you- and your clergymen and religious for being what you should :slight_smile:


#18

You’re welcome and I’ll take this forum to give a “shout-out” to Bishop Kevin Rhoades (Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend). Msgr. Robert Schulte, vicar general and Fr. Jason Freiburger, vice-chancellor. These wonderful men of God truly demonstrate God’s love for all His sheep, even the crazy ones.:clapping:


#19

I find it hard to go to church as well. Anxiety. I have a friend who had her first panic attack walking down to communion. She is better now but she finds going to communion still difficult. Most churches are built like a cross and have smaller rows on the sides. I like to sit on the side since the communion line is shorter that way.

I don't like to go to confession for the same reason. I have had therapy so I like to sit facing the priest instead of kneeling behind the little box. It can all be claustrophobic. My friend gave up going to communion for a long time but I think I convinced her to give it another try.

With anxiety there is usually a way to figure ways around the obstacle. I just hope God is giving us "crazies" extra graces when we do get there. LOL


#20

[quote="oneofmany, post:19, topic:316258"]

With anxiety there is usually a way to figure ways around the obstacle. I just hope God is giving us "crazies" extra graces when we do get there. LOL

[/quote]

I am sure He is. I am amazed at the graces I receive from Him just to make it through the day.


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