Sacraments and Sanity


#1

Since I didn’t want to hijack another thread, I’d like to
pick up on a thought that I was persuing there as a
separate topic.
Here’s part of my post, edited, from that thread:


What I’m trying to work out in my mind, …]
is the distinction between ‘normative’ and all that
falls outside that reality.
The normative way is the Roman Catholic Church.
I’m not going to give you an argument on that.

But many lives, my own included, could never
be regarded as ‘normative’, in terms psychological.

What does the Church do for people like me?
It insists on confession and ‘worthy’ communions.
I have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I literally lost my mind and ended up hospitalized
over scrupulosity, a form of OCD. I’m functioning, but barely.

The sight of a Roman collar gives me vertigo. All I
can think of is: “The Keys. He has the keys to bind
and loose…” and I feel paralyzed, sickened and
terrorized. So much for ‘normative.’

As I said in another thread, for me the choice is
sacraments or sanity. I can’t have both.
So, no, I’m not going to the Lord’s supper and
feel excluded from the table due to psychological
*illness and my inability to cleave to the sacramental *
system the Church has set up.

That’s why I feel at home with the 'marginalized’
and rail against the 'sacramental system.'
You guys keep the faith, OK? Some of us loonies don’t
fit in. I comfort myself by recalling Jesus saying:

“I have not come for the healthy, but for the sick.”

…]


Any thoughts?

reen


#2

Hello reen.

I’ve watched many of your posts from afar, noting your eloquence, your style and intelligence, and your writing everything as if it’s poetry.

I like your posts.

I’m non-Catholic, but I wouldn’t mind to contribute even if you *are *loony. :smiley:

I’m not sure I understand why you have Catholic Church-a-phobia as a result of OCD???


#3

Perhaps you should think of yourself as a person who is allergic to wheat. Such a person would not be refusing the Eucharist, but simply cannot have it. The intent/desire is enough.

You can and should be at peace with this. I’m not your doctor, so I cannot say what is safe for you.


#4

From an objective standpoint, it depends whether or not it’s your fault that you reject the sacraments. That’s between you and God. Obviously if someone has legitimate physical or mental disorders that prevent them from receiving the sacraments, God won’t hold that against them.

Hmmm. Have you ever gone to the old fashioned confessional, where you’re alone in the booth? It’s not that bad. You don’t even have to see the collar:p . Confession used to freak me out. I didn’t go for like 7 years. Anyway, I was finally moved to go and it was definitely one of the hardest things ever for me. I was sweating bullets and everything. I used to get panicky when giving speeches in front of the class in school. It was like that. Sweating and trouble breathing. Anyway, sure it was tough when I was in there, but the feeling on coming out was amazing! It was such a relief. Anyway, I made it a weekly habit to go, and it was still a little hard at first, but it got easier and easier. Plus, going weekly, I didn’t have to stay in there that long:) . Coming out of confession is still one of the greatest feelings in the world. I always have a big smile on my face when I come out. :smiley:

You’re right that Jesus came for the sick. The Eucharist is great for that. It really is healing. I would think frequent Communion would help someone in your position. It’s too bad you can’t just suck it up for that big confession just once. After that it’s easy:)


#5

Hello, Curious,

How kind of you to say such encouraging things,
thank you.

OK, let me see if I can make it clear to you, as
a non-Catholic, what I’m talking about.

Scrupulosity is form of obsessive-compulsive
disorder. It is a psychological condition.

People afflicted with this can feel that
everthing they do or think is potentially sinful,
or actually sinful…I know that’s hard to understand,
but, trust me, it’s happens. They can be
*overwhelmed *with a ‘feeling’ of sinfulness.
rational, and that’s why
it’s classified as a psychological disorder.]

So, comes a Saturday afternoon. I would go
to confession. Between 3 o’clock Saturday
and Mass time on Sunday, I would think of
10 things that I had done/thought that were
’mortal sins.’ A Catholic commits sacriledge
is he/she recieves communion in a state of
mortal sin.
Additionally, if I don’t go to Mass it’s a mortal
sin.
If I don’t confess at least once a year, I have
violated Church law.
Catch 22!
I actually ended up hospitalized after a breakdown
generated by scrupulosity [OCD].
I can’t take it. The whole thing makes me
sick with fear. Counsels to ‘see a priest’ about
this increases this fear…no, terror is a better
description.
Needless to say, all of this fills me with resentment
and anger toward the faith.
*

‘Talk this over with a confessor’ is for the mentally
healthy, the Chronically Normal.
The whole experience, beginning in adolescence,
has left me *phobic *with regards to things churchly.

I guess I’m bringing the topic to the fore, so that
those who blithely say: Oh, the Church has help
for you, talk it over with a priest…might understand
why this is not an option for someone like me.

I hope this clarifies things a bit for you, Curious.
God bless you,
reen

"God’s Freelance:) "*


#6

[quote=reen12]Since I didn’t want to hijack another thread, I’d like to
pick up on a thought that I was persuing there as a
separate topic.
Here’s part of my post, edited, from that thread:


What I’m trying to work out in my mind, …]
is the distinction between ‘normative’ and all that
falls outside that reality.
The normative way is the Roman Catholic Church.
I’m not going to give you an argument on that.

But many lives, my own included, could never
be regarded as ‘normative’, in terms psychological.

What does the Church do for people like me?
It insists on confession and ‘worthy’ communions.
I have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I literally lost my mind and ended up hospitalized
over scrupulosity, a form of OCD. I’m functioning, but barely.

The sight of a Roman collar gives me vertigo. All I
can think of is: “The Keys. He has the keys to bind
and loose…” and I feel paralyzed, sickened and
terrorized. So much for ‘normative.’

As I said in another thread, for me the choice is
sacraments or sanity. I can’t have both.
So, no, I’m not going to the Lord’s supper and
feel excluded from the table due to psychological
*illness and my inability to cleave to the sacramental *
system the Church has set up.

That’s why I feel at home with the 'marginalized’
and rail against the 'sacramental system.'
You guys keep the faith, OK? Some of us loonies don’t
fit in. I comfort myself by recalling Jesus saying:

“I have not come for the healthy, but for the sick.”

…]


Any thoughts?

reen
[/quote]

reen,

I believe that you can have bothe the Sacraments and your sanity.
To me, scrupulosity is OCD applied to religion. I’ve been struggling with it for the better part of 50 years. I know that God loves me, a simple glance a a crucifix is enough to prove that. He wants to save me more than I want to save myself. I know also that he understands my doubts and anxieties. I can’t give up hoping and so I know I must put my trust in him. When I am frozen with doubt and I must make a decision I pray to Jesus to help me. I also pray, “Holy Spirit, please guide me. You know I’m trying to do the right thing. If I am NOT doing the right thing, please help me to KNOW it and lead me to your will.” Also, I’ve learned ways of coping from Scrupulous Anonymous, a free bulletin put out by Liguori Publications, 1 Liguori Drive, Liguori, MO 63057. All you have to do is contact them and ask to be put on their SA Bulletin mailing list. Fr. Thomas Santa has a book in publication on the subject. I know that you know it isn’t easy, but the key is trust. I don’t trust in myself, but in God. This last part is very important. When I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I go to the same priest. He knows me, he understands the situation, and he helps me clafify my doubts. In my heart I know that Christ did not intend the Church and the Sacraments to be a burden but a blessing. So, I ask God’s guidance, I try to follow the advice I have received, I prayerfully make my decisions, I put my trust in God and inevitably I find peace. Sure, new situations arise, fresh doubts, anxiety…but I take it all straight to the Lord. I earnestly pray that you too will find peace in the struggle. And believe me, I know it’s a struggle.


#7

People afflicted with this can feel that
everthing they do or think is potentially sinful,
or actually sinful…I know that’s hard to understand,
but, trust me, it’s happens. They can be
*overwhelmed *with a ‘feeling’ of sinfulness.
rational, and that’s why
it’s classified as a psychological disorder.]

Ah Reen. Yes, I understand better now. I’ve been acquainted with that myself, yet maybe not to such a degree. Unfortunately, I’ve managed to swing to the opposite extremes and have taken a detrimental “everything’s okay” attitude.

I suppose it’s all about balance isn’t it? I sometimes think it’s easier to be extreme than balanced, easier to be bound than free. At least for me, balance is difficult to obtain and I think balance in all areas of our lives would go a long way towards helping us become happier, better adjusted people. How to achieve that balance is another question entirely.

Is it the Church that bothers you? Or Christianity in general?


#8

Hi, Curious,

"I sometimes think it’s easier to be extreme than balanced, easier to be bound than free."quote, Curious

There’s a great deal of truth in that insight,
Curious. As a non-Catholic, you can just tell
Jesus you’re sorry, and keep on going.


The only position I can take, and keep functioning,
is to either accept sola fides, sola scriptura,
sola gratia, or quit Christianity altogether.
For the moment, I’m going with sola fides…
no affiliation.

I wanted my fellow Catholics and possibly
members of the clergy, to understand that I feel
that there’s no room in the inn for me, with the
type of mental illness I endure. I don’t ask
the Church to change doctrine for my sake.
I just want it to be clear what the sacramental
system has wrought in my life.

I know, "hard cases make bad law."
Explain that to Jesus when He comes in glory,
that an injured and deeply wounded human being
felt that there was no room for her in His house.

I say, in a rare moment of bitterness, “I can’t wait!”…
"You burdened My people with laws of your own
making."
Where have I heard that, before?

Thanks for your response, Curious.
reen

“God’s Freelance:)”


#9

Hi, banjo,

“Also, I’ve learned ways of coping from Scrupulous Anonymous, a free bulletin put out by Liguori Publications, 1 Liguori Drive, Liguori, MO 63057. All you have to do is contact them and ask to be put on their SA Bulletin mailing list.” quote, banjo

Thank you banjo. I’m aware of that group. I’ve settled
into an online group, which, until recently, was run by a
Lutheran pastor, for people suffering scrupulosity. I have felt profoundly helped by that forum.

Now I know why they called them 'Pastor".
Because he has helped a sick and injured sheep
like me.
Thanks for your kindness, banjo,

reen


#10

I don’t know what to advise you, but I want you to know that I was very, very moved by what you said. I don’t think you should cut yourself off from the Sacraments, but I don’t begin to know how to advise you. I can tell you that I said a prayer for you.


#11

Dear JKirkLVNV,

You touched my heart with your reply.
I don’t know what to do either.

Please understand that what I said may
have been tinged with bitterness, but
that it was the bleat of a sheep looking
through the rails into a fold that she would
like to be part of, but can’t.

Thanks for listening, dear JKirkLVNV, and
thanks for your prayer. Just pray that I can
keep it together, psychologically, until I see
God in the face. Maybe He’ll give me a seat
near Him, within the fold.

reen


#12

Reen,

Do you feel any kind of freedom with your avoidance of sacraments and adherence to solas? Or do you feel like you’re in some limbo?
I’ve often described myself as being in a limbo - neither Catholic nor Protestant, though probably technically simply a Protestant with Catholic eyes. It’s quite uncomfortable. No sense of belonging anywhere. What are your thoughts?


#13

[quote=reen12]Hi, Curious,

"I sometimes think it’s easier to be extreme than balanced, easier to be bound than free."quote, Curious

There’s a great deal of truth in that insight,
Curious. As a non-Catholic, you can just tell
Jesus you’re sorry, and keep on going.


The only position I can take, and keep functioning,
is to either accept sola fides, sola scriptura,
sola gratia, or quit Christianity altogether.
For the moment, I’m going with sola fides…
no affiliation.

I wanted my fellow Catholics and possibly
members of the clergy, to understand that I feel
that there’s no room in the inn for me, with the
type of mental illness I endure. I don’t ask
the Church to change doctrine for my sake.
I just want it to be clear what the sacramental
system has wrought in my life.

I know, "hard cases make bad law."
Explain that to Jesus when He comes in glory,
that an injured and deeply wounded human being
felt that there was no room for her in His house.

I say, in a rare moment of bitterness, “I can’t wait!”…
"You burdened My people with laws of your own
making."
Where have I heard that, before?

Thanks for your response, Curious.
reen

“God’s Freelance:)”
[/quote]

Hey reen,
Finally made it over here. I can fully understand the marginalized point you are making. My experience falls more under the physical category though. Out of brevity, I will relate two experiences here. First, within the last year and a half, I have been hospitalized 7 times. And becuase of the nature of the visits, I always have to have an IV (sometimes a PIC line). I can remember walking down the halls with my fiance and/or parents to see the Nursery (I tried to go daily and to the Chapel). People would smile at me (by the time I was walking, I looked decent and often were regular clothes and tennis shoes to walk) until they saw the IV. At which point, they would turn their face away or to the ground. I prayed for those individuals.

Second experience was when I was at a university which publicly adhered to Ex Corde Ecclesia a couple years ago. The school trained most of the nurses for the local hospital as I talked ot the nurses during my admittance. I was hospitalized and ended up in the Cardiac department (The reason was because of my athleticism and rigorous training I practiced my blood pressure and heart rate were lower to start with, but at night when I would sleep, both vital signs would drop. I always found it strange as I was the youngest person in the department by 35-40 years, and my Cardiovascular system is probably one of my best:whacky: ). I shared a room with an older gentleman who had a heart infection and other lung complications from work and lifestyle. One afternoon, the gentleman started gasping for air, his peripheral O2 was down in the low 70% range and he started to turn blue. I can remember 4-6 nurses panicking, and the doctor could not be found. I reached over from my bed with my IV arm (and anyone who has had an IV for a long time especially after the vein has been torched by Potassium or Phernergan, if you strain the IV arm and have you arm down for a bit, the arm will hurt due to the strain as well as the gravity on the fluids) and held the gentleman’s hand. God gave me the Grace to hold the man’s hand during this episode, and the action had an immediate effect on Michael (the gentlemen’s name, and please say a prayer for him as I moved back home, and Don’t know he is doing.) At one point, a nurse almost told me to let go of his hand. He gripped my hand as I stroked his with my thumb. I remember him turning his head while holding the oxygen mask over his face with his other hand. In his face was fear, but his face reflecting his soul spoke two thoughts articulately, “Thank you and please, don’t let go.” The reason I bring this up is that the nurses were devout Catholics, and he had heard my conversations with them. Yet, for some reason, they panicked and would not hold his hand. To put it mildly, I was saddened to witness their reaction :o (I prayed for the nurses, and hopefully, they learned from the experience as I did).


#14

Continued…

Third, I would recommend to any parent or adult who reads this to take yourself and/or your children to walk through a children’s hospital sometime. The infectious rooms will be marked off and closed and pose little threat to a healthy child. The children always amaze me, as children don’t ask why as much as adults do. If their parents start crying, the child will try to console the parent even in extreme pain. The witness of the little tikes being pulled in the wagon is staggering. I can only return their smile.:slight_smile:

Fourth, I have seen a dangerous tide enter into some Catholic circles of “Prosperity Theology”. The idea in not only unscriptural but has very poor psychological, sociological and Theological consequences (I am not saying that you have it. I am just addressing a dangerous rip tide). Christ promised suffering in this life following in His Footsteps with our cross not prosperity. Grace will be given freely as needed, but we must all be refined.

Fifth, reen don’t every let anyone tell you there isn’t a place in the Church for you (even your own conscience). I know the sinful members, myself included, may not act that way all the time, but God’ Loves you and He sees your struggle. God made the Inn not humans thankfully. If you can bring yourself to the Sacraments, please do. If you can’t, pray and don’t beat yourself up. If possible, could you offer up your sufferings for your soul and the soul in most need of His Mercy??? F*ides quaerens intellectum- *Faith seeking understanding- St. Anselm. I am sure from your posts that you are following that path in search of God through Truth. Well enough of my ramblings. Thanks and God Bless.


#15

Hi, Curious,

“Do you feel any kind of freedom with your avoidance of sacraments and adherence to solas? Or do you feel like you’re in some limbo?
I’ve often described myself as being in a limbo - neither Catholic nor Protestant, though probably technically simply a Protestant with Catholic eyes. It’s quite uncomfortable. No sense of belonging anywhere. What are your thoughts?” quote,Curious

You may feel like you’re in limbo, but why do I think
that God loves you a lot?:slight_smile:

I wrote in a thread on Spirituality and Mental IIlness,
that one of the themes in my life seems to be:
“Where do I fit in?” and further stated that that would not
be an unusal questions for a traumatized child to ask
and ask again and again…over a lifetime.

So, no, it does not feel like limbo to me. It feels
like being spiritually abandoned by “Mother Church”,
as I felt emotionally abandoned as a child.

The ghastly part, for me, is to think that because
of this ‘felt abandonment’ by Holy Mother Church,
will I now be eternally abandoned by God?
This does create a certain ‘jumpiness’ within,
aka, anxiety and depression.

Sola fides gives me an opportunity to bring online
a ‘rational’ thought in all of this, to wit:

When I think: “I’m damned”, I say to myself:
“That is an irrational thought. Jesus loves me.
He died for me. He justifies and saves me.
He will not permit me to be lost.”

It is His grace, as in Amazing Grace:

"I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see"
and
"Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come,
T’was Grace that brought me safe, thus far,
And Grace will lead me home.


You can see that, when someone tries to
disparage Martin Luther, I come, full of
indignation, to his defense. I believe that he
was in torment of mind and soul, in the same
way that I am affected.
The man literally saved my sanity.


And thoughts, Curious?
reen


#16

Hi Reen,

This is from one looney to another looney.

I was diagnosed with “Severe Panick Disorder” a few years ago. The psychiatrist said it was brought on by OCD.

I had reached the point where I couldn’t even sit in a church, without a panick attack coming on. Although my OCD wasn’t related to scrupoulosity, at least I don’t think it was (maybe it was?).

Well at any rate, I had been practicising protestant theology and thoughts for 22 years or so. And had been avoiding the sacraments of the church. Due to my marriage to a baptist gal, we were married in the baptist church. So I stayed away from the sacraments, since I was protestant leaning and not married in the Catholic church.

Well after 12 years of marriage, when I hit my 40’s I began suffering from Sever Panick disorder. After another 7 years or so, my wife decided to fulfill a promise she made to my mother, which was to raise our kids catholic. As such it was time to have our daughter confirmed. Our church made it mandatory that we attend a retreat. Which we did, and Amazing grace struck me, and I met the Holy Spirit while on this retreat. It was the most amazing time of my life. Then after I met the Holy Spirit, my wife decided to convert to Catholic. We had our marriage blessed in the Catholic church. And as such I could take the sacraments once again. Although the power of the Holy Spirit was in me, I still wasn’t cured of the panick disorder yet. It’s my belief that God had something in store for me and his glory. At any rate later that summer, I finally went to confession. This was one of the scariest moments of my life. But the Holy Spirit was giving my enough strength to go to confession anyways. So I finally went.

Then came time for Communion. Again I back out ( from fear) that first Sunday after confession. Listening to Catholic radio, they repeated that biblical phrase, where the greatest gift one has to offer, is his life for his friends. So I resolved to go to communion the next Sunday, and even if I die or go insane, I die or go insane for Jesus Christ. This is what gave me the strength to go. So I did. And suddenlly immediately after communion I was cured. And haven’t had a panick attack since then.
This was 4 years ago, and all is still well with me.

I think the moral of the story is, I completely gave my life to Jesus Christ and doing so has cured me.

God Bless you, and I’ll pray for you, that you too can meet the Holy Spirit.

Calvin


#17

Thank you Calvin!

reen12


#18

[The ghastly part, for me, is to think that because
of this ‘felt abandonment’ by Holy Mother Church/QUOTE]

How did the Church abandon you? Or perhaps you felt/feel the Church magnifies the scrupulous/OCD disorder you have?


#19

reen12,
Thank you for your gracious reply in the “Sidestepping Sola Scriptura” thread. I do feel drawn to the Church, but I feel in sort of a state of limbo myself now as a practicing evangelical protestant, like Curious said, with Catholic eyes.

[quote=reen12]It feels like being spiritually abandoned by “Mother Church” as I felt emotionally abandoned as a child.

The ghastly part, for me, is to think that because
of this ‘felt abandonment’ by Holy Mother Church,
will I now be eternally abandoned by God?
This does create a certain ‘jumpiness’ within,
aka, anxiety and depression.
[/quote]

The passage that came to my mind when I read this was St. Paul:

[quote=2 Corinthians 12:1-10]I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
[/quote]

Perhaps your struggle with scrupulosity and your feelings of abandonment are your “thorn”. I do know that it is very possible to get sidetracked from the beauty and integrity of the Catholic faith by Catholics themselves, whose witness to the glorious truths the Church holds dims the light of the truths themselves. Sometimes our frail minds can be distracted by attaching human meaning to the symbols of the faith (even the sacrements) which themselves are meant to be a draw our attention to Christ. Luther never intended to leave the Church, but intended for it to reform itself. The factors that led to his breakaway are myriad, and both parties are culpable to some extent. I do believe he was wrong to leave, but in the same breath I must admit the testing of his faith was severe.

I do not envy your “thorn”, and my heart goes out to you. I consider myself greatly blessed to be able to take part in “normative” faith. God has chosen to sift some of us like wheat, that our faith may be all the richer and purer when the chaff is removed. Job was sorely tried to the limits of his being, to the point whether he questioned whether his his impeccable dedication to God’s law was for naught. Reen, your testing is greater than most, but I beseech you to hold on to the Word of God revealed in the Church, even when it is admittedly so hard to do so. For some reason, our frailty is a conduit for God’s work in our lives, even through our times of questioning and inability to comprehend. I have been made painfully aware of in my own journey of faith. Cling to His promise in Jeremiah 29:13. You are in my prayers.

God Bless.


#20

reen,

I just had a thought when I woke up on the marginalized part you have mentioned. I often am not at Home with the congregation in the pews, and sadly, even the orthodox ones. But at those times, I am at Home in the Chapels with Our Lord in the Tabernacle where He has been utterly abandoned as well. Thanks and God Bless.


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