What is Wrong?


#1

Hi,

I changed my name here so that I could remain anonymous.

I have been Catholic off and on for a few years as I’ve struggled with my faith.

Something very odd happens to me when I begin Catholic devotion again. I go to confession, mass, start praying the rosary, etc… , and after a little time of this, I seem to get lost. That’s about the best I can term it. I literally seem to lose my senses. I don’t want to do anything at all. Normal day to day living is very difficult. I find it hard to motivate myself to do anything. I feel like I am lost within myself or something. I feel like I am enveloped in darkness - not an evil darkness, but an un-knowing darkness.

Sometimes I wonder if it is a depression of sorts that I enter into. Perhaps I am never quite settled that this is the right thing to do (be Catholic). On the other hand, I feel more drawn to Catholic devotion which makes me believe it isn’t really an issue of doubting the faith. In fact, I think I am more grounded in my Catholic faith this time than I ever have been. It makes me wonder if I am simply overwhelmed in my devotion.

Not knowing what it is is preventing me from going further in my devotion. I would love to go to daily mass or visit the blessed sacrament in addition to the weekly mass and confession I am currently doing. I am afraid it will just make me want to be at church all the time and never want to do anything else - that’s kind of what this is like. It takes great effort to actually go DO something practical and ordinary.

In the past, remembering these experiences has made me doubt the Catholic faith. Something like this once happened to me on a retreat many years ago. The experience was much more powerful than this one. I just couldn’t stand to do anything but pray or go to mass. It makes me question if this is a godly experience, and it does shake my faith. Typically I would expect an encounter with God to motivate a person - not hypnotize them.

I know you can’t give me a diagnoses necessarily, but what do you make of this from a Catholic perspective?

Thanks


#2

Hmmm…

I don’t know what your current life situation is, but maybe you’re being called to religious life. Maybe God is telling you that the only thing that will satisfy your heart is to pray and get as close to Him as possible. Remember Mary and Martha? Martha was worried about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary had chosen the best part and it will not be taken away from her.


#3

Sounds like you are under attack to me!


#4

That has always been my belief, however, I am married with several children. I know I felt called all my life but choose a life of sin and put off my conversion many years.

Would having ignored a call to relgious life continue to haunt me forever, even though I wrongfully choose to get married? It’s hard for me to accept that God would not bless this vocation and just about torment me through it. But if I wrongfully choose my own vocation instead of seeking the one He had prepared for me, I suppose it only makes sense that I would forever feel misplaced?


#5

Yeah, that’s my worry…

Kinda throws a doubt in my mind that I’m doing the right thing returning to the church :o


#6

Have you read St. John of the Cross’s “Dark Night of the Soul” or Mother Theresa’s Spiritual letters in “Come Be My Light”? They sound like something you might want to read. I’m thinking you are having what is known as “a dark night” or “spritual dryness” - which is not a bad thing but must be understood properly.

Also, maybe you should talk with a priest about it.


#7

OOps, I tried to remain anonymous, but i posted with my real name by accident and then deleted the posts. sorry if my missing posts confused anyone.


#8

Now that I’m re-reading your post, maybe you don’t have spiritual dryness. But still give those books a try, at least St. John of the Cross.


#9

How can you delete a post? I’ve not seen an option for it. :frowning:


#10

Yes, I think I was called to religious life and ignored it. I felt called to conversion many times and put it off for a sinful life. I then got married and had children.

Yes, it may be an attack - that is my worry. And it troubles my faith. Makes me wonder if returning to the church was the right thing.

I know the Dark Night of the Soul - I’ve read it many times, but I don’t know if anyone can know they are in it. And I’m not sure I fit the criteria. I doubt it actually.

I talked to a priest after the retreat, but that experience was different. It was much more powerful and it was accompanied by a feeling of love. This is duller and I can’t say I experience love. Just a heaviness.


#11

You go to “edit” at the bottom right and click the box at the top of the next screen to delete the post.


#12

I make of it that you have classic symtoms that should be sending you to a doctor for a complete medical workup and diagnosis of what may be an underlying problem. all the classic Catholic spiritual writers agree that you cannot make sound life decisions when in a depressed or melancholy state, that is not the time to stop devotions, add new ones, change vocations or make any other big moves. They also agree that your physical health is part of your spiritual health. That is not to say that may who have suffered physically, mentally and psychologically have not become holy, they have, but whatever is preventing your spiritual health must be addressed.


#13

Thanks so much! I never even saw that there! :blush:


#14

The fact that you sill desire Christ should be encouraging for you… this is a pretty sure sign that God is allowing you to undergo such things as purification rather than something that you’ve brought about through lukewarmness.

I would seriously consider reading “The Fulfillment of All Desire,” by Ralph Martin. Actually, I think everyone should read this.
In it, you will find discussions of spiritual dryness and/or darkness and the discernment of its source.

He discusses 7 Doctors of the Church, including St. John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, and what they have to say about the spiritual life. A fantastic and enlightening read at any point in your spiritual journey, he brings the writings of these 7 Doctors together, synthesizing them and making them more accessible. The book is easily 50% direct quotations, which are then linked together and explained. I hope you’ll be able to pick it up.

In any case, keep up the devotions, and may God bless you!


#15

I realize this may be depression, but I don’t think it is clinical depression b/c it is clearly associated with my faith. Before the many times I have reconciled with the Church I was totally alert and happy and functioning. My home and work were all in order. For some reason, when I am Catholic, I do not function well in the ordinary things. Maybe I’m just still not at peace with my decision to return to the church. Yet I believe I have more faith in it today than I ever did. I just can’t make sense of it.


#16

In mother Theresa’s book “Come Be My Light” she experiences something I hope I never experience. After she sets up her Sisters of Charity, she feels absolotutely nothing. For like 30 years. But she still is drawn to the Sacraments - and God. She still wants to please God, although she doesn’t feel him at all. It’s interesting how she could deal with that, yet become one of the most charitable “saints” today.


#17

Thanks, I’ll search for it on Amazon


#18

Many saints experienced periods of spiritual dryness. Persevere in prayer, and make sure you have a spiritual director to help you.


#19

Awesome, let me know if you decide to get it! I’ve already had 4 or 5 people to whom I’ve recommended it read it and I love hearing their responses.


#20

Well, fortunately, she was still able to do great things.

I’m not exactly paralyzed though. I just keep putting things off - like I’m preoccupied in some way and its only when something is really pressing that I’ll actually do it. This is not like I was formerly though. Ordinary work was a joy and no problem to accomplish.

I can’t think clearly and have actually resorted to writing down a daily schedule to follow so I can get my head out of the clouds and do what I need to. This doesn’t really work though for 2 reasons: First I don’t feel like I’m following the Spirit’s lead in my daily life if I’m adhering to a schedule, and secondly, well, it really boring to just follow a schedule like that - it makes it even more tedious.

Sometimes I think I’m avoiding doing these things b/c I don’t want to get lost in the ordinary things. I have a tendancy to get really into what I’m doing - and I don’t want to loose that prayerful disposition - yet I can’t always be in a contemplative mode (or whatever it is) to the exclusion of the ordinary. And it’s not even like I enjoy whatever it is I’m experiencing so I don’t know why I’d avoid work to get myself out of it (if that’s what I’m doing).

Ug - why are we so complicated?


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