I notice there are a lot of videos on YouTube about what bipolar disorder feels like. I relate to them a lot, having Bipolar Disorder myself, but for me, Bipolar Disorder also feels like THIS.
Of course, what it feels like is never what it looks like…which is why there are so many YouTube videos trying to explain what it feels like.
It’s sad that so many people don’t seem to know about redemptive suffering, as I see in videos: Here, here, here, here, etc.
Their status with God doesn’t concern me a great deal. The ones who concern me are the very many people who seem to believe that if you have Bipolar Disorder and you become a Christian, you are going to automatically be miraculously healed. Miracles happen, but only rarely. Prayers for the intercession of St. Dymphna are a good idea, but sometimes, it is not God’s will that people be healed, because, well, some of us are called to better things.
By the way, St. Dymphna was not mentally ill. She’s a saint because she was martyred, having been murdered by her mentally ill father. There is no saint known with certainty to have had mental illness. As it stands, the mentally ill are said to be virtually guaranteed a place in heaven, albeit with a tiny crown, because our free will is not strong. I don’t expect that the Church will ever name anyone who was certain to have a mental illness to be a saint, and there is good reason for this. The free will thing.
Bipolar Disorder is a mental disorder that people are born with and that is chemical in nature. There is no cure for it. You don’t stop having symptoms when you become a Christian. They are made easier to bear, if you offer them up in union with Jesus on the Cross, and you can learn habits that make life easier…but being a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t suffer. To the contrary, being a Christian can cause any form of suffering to intensify, because some are simply called to it.
Few people understand these things…but these things are among the things I know that keep me alive.
If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. — Vincent Van Gogh
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) – Charity (1878). Public Domain.
Note: Protestants don’t like that we Catholics have terms for everything. Protestants also define “saint” differently than Catholics do. For these reasons, I know that my protestant friends won’t agree with this post. It is written for Catholics who agree with me already about what a saint is and that there are particular terms for things in our Faith. Also, I am at a loss for reference materials that are linkable to help to prove what I’m saying here in a manner that is quick and easy, but I will do my best.
I have righteous anger about this because there is so much confusion about it, so I’ve decided to blog about it. It is not okay, and often quite pointless, to accuse someone of “lacking charity.” It is okay to warn people about wrath, which is a sin and a type of anger. What I have noticed a lot of is that a lot of Catholics are accusing fellow Catholics of “lacking charity” when the accused are displaying “righteous anger.” It appears that the particular “sin” being referred to is the “sin” of being impolite. There is no such sin. It is not a sin to be rude, and “charity” is not “being polite.”
The infused supernatural virtue by which a person loves God above all things for his own sake, and loves others for God’s sake. It is a virtue based on divine faith or in belief in God’s revealed truth, and is not acquired by mere human effort. It can be conferred only by divine grace. Because it is infused along with sanctifying grace, it is frequently identified with the state of grace. Therefore, a person who has lost the supernatural virtue of charity has lost the state of grace, although he may still possess the virtues of hope and faith.
To accuse someone of “lacking charity,” essentially, is to accuse them of not loving God above all things and of not loving others for God’s sake. Everyone who is not a saint “lacks charity” because charity is a theological virtue. If you are perfect in charity, you are a saint. Charity is UNLIMITED LOVE. If you accuse someone of “lacking charity” then you are accusing them of not being a saint, because everyone who is not a saint “lacks charity.” Only the perfect can accuse anyone of “lacking charity” because everyone who is not perfect “lacks charity.” Any individual who is not perfect who accuses another individual person of “lacking charity” is engaging in the harsh judgment of hypocrisy.
That is why it’s not okay to accuse people of “lacking charity.”
You’re probably aware that the driving of resentment is destroying our country, and you seek to stop that by accusing people of “lacking charity.” That’s all well and good, but in doing so, you may actually be contributing to the driving of resentment, the very thing you seek to remedy. How? Well, the person being accused is likely going to be aware that only a saint does not “lack charity.” He is liable to interpret that you are claiming sainthood status over him, because who but a saint has authority to accuse someone of “lacking charity?” If he does interpret it this way, he will likely have righteous anger about being harshly judged.
It’s a vicious cycle. It divides us. It divides us because of the lack of clarity (lack of clarity, not lack of charity) that comes when people are afraid to accuse anyone of an actual sin, maybe because they think that would be “lacking charity.”
Accuse people of sin, if you will. Wrath is an actual sin. “Lacking charity” is not a sin. “Lacking charity” is simply “not being a saint.” “Lacking charity” is “not having unlimited love.” Who can be that? Only a completely perfected saint.
Fraternal correction is very important in the Church. The more we have it, the better, provided that it is done “in charity,” right? But it is righteous anger that leads us to engage in fraternal correction.
Justifiable indignation. It is permissible and even laudable when accompanied by a reasonable desire to inflict justifiable punishment. Christ himself was filled with righteous anger against the vendors who had desecrated the house of God. Such anger is allowable only if it tends to punish those who deserve punishment, according to the measure of their guilt, and with the sincere intention to redress what harm may have been done or to correct the wrongdoer. Otherwise the anger is sinfully excessive. The necessary provision is always that there is no tinge of hatred and no desire for revenge.
How many people do you suppose accused Jesus of wrath for overturning the tables of vendors at the temple? If they did not do so verbally, perhaps they did in their hearts. The “chief priests and scribes” feared him. They were indignant.They questioned His authority to do these things. They sought to destroy Him.
If you are accusing someone of “lacking charity” it is probably because you have a justifiable indignation about the driving of resentments in society….but you’re not a saint, I presume. You, too, lack charity. If you accuse me of “lacking charity” you are accusing me of being like you.
This is a vicious cycle. Vicious cycles are not healthy for me, not healthy for you, and not healthy for society. Please stop.
By the way, I promise you that this post “lacks charity” but I can also promise you that it is born from righteous indignation.
We are made to be broken, because we were made for God’s love…and He is the only One who knows with all clarity who each of us is supposed to be. Fraternal correction is great, but God has the ultimate authority to overturn the tables.
Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, has written an op-ed at the Washington Times explaining why Catholics must reject homosexual identity and how those who do not reject it are the ones inciting a “Catholic culture war.” She writes in the context of the attacks on Fr. Derek Lappe by Catholics United after Fr. Lappe wrote an article explaining why his parish is cutting ties with the Boy Scouts.
While Mr. Martin [chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting] is correct that the church teaches that homosexual persons are created in the image and likeness of God and are deserving of our love and respect, the catechism of the Catholic Church also teaches that same-sex attraction in and of itself is disordered, and that engaging in homosexual behavior is not in keeping with the teachings of church. The celebration of a homosexual identity by uniformed Boy Scouts and their scoutmaster as they participated in the Utah Gay Pride parade in Salt Lake City earlier this month is likely a harbinger of what is to come for the Scouts — creating confusion for Catholic parish-based Scout troops and conflict within the church.
The first battle on this topic was fought on my blog when I wrote a criticism of this post at Little Catholic Bubble, the blog of my former spiritual director. I lost MANY friends over it, accused of being a “drama queen” because I was suicidal. [I also have a disorder. Bipolar Disorder.] When your spiritual director is denying the only thing that keeps you alive…it’s a big deal.
After I got out of the crisis unit, Rick Santorum called me on the phone to tell me he was praying for me. He was the only one who called. I was quite alone. This is why I call him “friend.” The only person to call me on the phone and tell me they cared, after I left the crisis unit, was a man who was on the campaign trail, running for President of the United States.
Don’t tell me God is not involved here.
WHO YOU ARE is everything to God, and HOW HE SEES YOU matters more than how you wish to see yourself. If you see yourself as something different than the “real you” our Father in heaven has made you to be, and you refuse to let go of that because of pride, you are swirling in the sink, toward the drain.
If you deny your own identity, you cannot survive it.
You will lose friends for saying these things, but the wounds of a TRUE friend are out of love.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
– Proverbs 27:5-6
I am broken. But God has plans to perfect me, eventually.
There are two temptations to face at this moment in the Church’s history: to draw back, because we are afraid of the freedom that comes from the law “enacted in the Holy Spirit”; and to give in to an “adolescent progressivism”, namely, the inclination to follow the most captivating values presented by the prevalent culture.
He is not referring to politics here, but generally. Progressivism is a sort of “value” that is not confined to politics. Conservatism and progressivism are both “values” that are brought into the political arena from those individuals who have a a conservative or progressive way of looking at things. Once they enter into politics, and are latched onto as ideology, like a hungry dog to a bone, there is division and resentment. Pope Francis isn’t talking so much about politics as he is about the spirituality we have inside of us that we inevitably bring with us into the political sphere. Also, though Pope Francis doesn’t mention the word “conservatism,” he describes it. He is warning against the dangers of both progressivism and conservatism…not in the political sense, but in the spiritual sense.
He refers to them as the “two temptations.” The first is the temptation that the conservative experiences, to draw back in fear of the Holy Spirit changing who you are today to become the person He created you to be. We are all called to be saints, but to become a saint requires…change! The temptation for the conservative is to adhere to rules strictly, and to focus so much on the rules that one loses the ability to grow into someone better. He shares this story.
“A diligent superior of a religious congregation was spending many years collecting all the rules of his congregation: what the religious were permitted to do and what they were not permitted to do. Then, once he had finished his task, he went to an important Benedictine Abbot who was in Rome, to show him his work. The Abbot looked at it and said: Father, with this you have killed the charism of your congregation! He had killed freedom. For the charism gives fruits of freedom and he had blocked the charism. This is not life. That congregation was unable to go on living. What happened? Twenty-five years after that masterpiece, no one looked at it and it ended on a library shelf”.
If St. Gemma had kept her nose all the time in the rule book, she would not have become the saint she became. Unlike the progressive, she was fully aware of the rules and was committed to strict obedience, but she was also open completely to God’s will…always…to become the saint He created her to be. She was open to His promptings, as are all saints. In the end, unless we truly come to know God as He is, as a living being who speaks to us in our own lives and wills for us to change, the rules will have no benefit to us. Conservatism taken to the extreme, as an ideology that we cling to, can prevent us from maturing on our spiritual path.
The second temptation is the temptation for the progressive which he terms as “adolescent progressivism.”
The second temptation is what the Pope called “adolescent progressivism”. But it is not real progress: it is a culture that moves ahead from which we are unable to detach ourselves and from which we take the laws and values we like best, just as teenagers do. In the end we run the risk of slipping, “just as a car skids on an icy road and ends up in the ditch”.
According to the Pope, for the Church in our day this is a recurrent temptation. “We cannot turn back”, he said, “and skid off the road”. The road on which to continue is this: “The law is full, always in continuity, without being cut: just as the seed culminates in the flower, in the fruit. The road is that of freedom in the Holy Spirit who sets us free in a continuous discernment of God’s will, to make progress on this road without turning back”, and without skidding.
The progressive who denies the importance of the rules has nothing to hold onto. He is skidding through life and, if he ends up off the road, crashed, he may never get back onto it again. The progressive is also resisting change because one cannot change into the person God has created him to be unless he has the foundation of the truths of the Faith to guide him.
We would all do well to consider these things, especially here in the West where countries are polarized between conservatives and progressives. Both sides often forget that it is in God and His will that we trust, not so much in ourselves.
That’s what the Vatican is asking Catholics to do — to take up evangelizing, to speak openly of one’s faith in order to spread it.
While such personal sharing has long been the province of, well, evangelical Protestants (among others, including Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses), it means a paradigm shift for Catholics, whose spiritual lives have been largely centered inside the parish. But with Catholicism in the West facing major losses and what Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl — a Vatican point man on the new request — calls a “tsunami of secularism,” the church this year is pouring resources into a massive campaign dubbed “the new evangelization.”
Which is what brought Gallagher out in the rain this spring, a few weeks after the Rev. Adam Park at Epiphany Catholic Church laid out the challenge to his young congregation.
“You’re kind of like, ‘Ugh.’ It’s something you want to push off and let other people handle. Why be on the defensive if you can stay in your community where everyone nods their head and everyone goes home happy?” said Gallagher, a software developer who lives in Glover Park. “There’s an anxiety that accompanies putting yourself out there, especially with a topic such as religion. But once I realized: If God and my religion are important to me .?.?. I shouldn’t have any problem talking to other people about it.”
Exactly. It is very uncomfortable. The discomfort is always there, but the thing you are uncomfortable about changes. At first, your discomfort is because of your own pride. You want to go to heaven on nice feather pillows and you hope everyone else will get to heaven on nice feather pillows, too. God is all-merciful, after all. But let us not forget that He is also all-just. Sin, even forgiven sin, has consequences. It is through the Cross alone that we get to heaven.
Probably, many of you still want to get to heaven without feeling the pain of humiliation of people calling you names (“holier than thou”), or turning their noses up at you, or worse. It’s a holy thing not to desire conflict, but it is not holy to want to spare yourself pain. Once you realize that, and seek the holiness that comes through suffering, depending on how much you love God above yourself, you will let go of your pride. Over time, you learn humility, because nothing can teach you humility like being humiliated, and nothing can teach you who our King is like being bound to defend His reign. Eventually, the discomfort you once felt for yourself changes into another kind of discomfort. It becomes a discomfort for the souls who don’t know God and His love. You will learn to know more about who God really is, too, the more you suffer the kind of pain Jesus suffered in His humiliations, and the more you do, the more you will find joy in defending Him — not because you find kinship with being a “victim of the enemy” but rather because you know Him better…and to know Him better is to love Him more. Then, you are on the path to sainthood, because you care more about others and about God than you do for yourself….even while they are spitting on you…as people before them spat on Jesus and crucified Him. (See St. Gemma Galgani)
How can I tell you all of this if I’m just a nobody? Well, I’m not just a nobody because God made me a somebody, and He made you a somebody, too. We are all called to be what He asks us to be, even if we don’t think we’ll be very good at it. We have a deacon at our parish who shared with us all that he fought God’s call for him to be a deacon because he didn’t think he was cut out for it. I, for one, am glad God won that argument. We have one of the most awesome priests you could ever hope to have, but it is the deacon that one of my children “hears” during homilies. He reaches her. As much as she loves our priest (she truly does) the deacon’s homilies reach her more. He has done more to keep her in the Church, perhaps, than I have.
The Catholic Faith is ONE. There is only ONE Gospel, therefore there is only ONE Catholic Faith. You either believe the Catholic Faith, or you don’t. If you are Catholic, you either love God, or you love some fantasy you’ve made up in your head about Him. That isn’t really loving God, by the way. It’s loving yourself, because you love the idea you have of Him. That fantasy you have of Him makes you comfortable. If you love God, on the other hand, then the world that we live in is very uncomfortable for you, because Satan is running roughshod over the lives of many people, and you will sorrow over that. But in that particular kind of pain is joy, as we know that it is in the Cross that we find Jesus. He is our joy.
Wait. Joy? What is “joy?” How can you be happy if you’re uncomfortable? Being “happy” all the time isn’t the joy that we find in Christ. The joy of Christ is found in the heart, not in the head. Joy is mentioned nine times in Redemptoris Missio. Happiness isn’t mentioned once.
To the question, “why mission?” we reply with the Church’s faith and experience that true liberation consists in opening oneself to the love of Christ. In him, and only in him, are we set free from all alienation and doubt, from slavery to the power of sin and death. Christ is truly “our peace” (Eph 2:14); “the love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14), giving meaning and joy to our life. Mission is an issue of faith, an accurate indicator of our faith in Christ and his love for us.
He loves you. If you love Him, you are “impelled” to seek God’s will for yourself, and to spread the Gospel…to live the Gospel as He asks you to. Of course, each human being is unique. Certainly, each Catholic is unique, too. We each have our own calling and our own way of doing what we believe God is calling us to do. We are one Body in Christ, but we are each unique members of that One Body. Often, individuals disagree. Maybe even especially in the Church herself, there is disagreement. Fortunately for ALL of us, Jesus said that the wheat and the weeds should grow together until the harvest. Our response to disagreements should not be focused so much on each other, but should be aligned more toward God’s will.
This is why the Church’s mission derives not only from the Lord’s mandate but also from the profound demands of God’s life within us. Those who are incorporated in the Catholic Church ought to sense their privilege and for that very reason their greater obligation of bearing witness to the faith and to the Christian life as a service to their brothers and sisters and as a fitting response to God. They should be ever mindful that “they owe their distinguished status not to their own merits but to Christ’s special grace; and if they fail to respond to this grace in thought, word and deed, not only will they not be saved, they will be judged more severely.”
Get that? We have to be mindful that we owe everything to God.
The Spirit worked through the apostles, but at the same time he was also at work in those who heard them: “Through his action the Good News takes shape in human minds and hearts and extends through history. In all of this it is the Holy Spirit who gives life.”
It is God, not the evangelist, Who converts people.