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BarbaraTherese

Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality

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BarbaraTherese

 My SD is not available and I was going through a mini hell and decided to have a talk with a priest last night.  Father, last night, was a true blessing and I did pray ardently that things would go well – later I spent some time at the Shrine of Our Lady giving thanks.  My trust in The Lord was under temptation as was my Faith and I felt totally unworthy of all that has happened re the Home Mass and Private Vows, even though I realized no one was worthy of any Gift from God.   I was having anxiety attacks threatening panic attacks. This seems to have been triggered by a life event that I would normally take in my stride, which I would rather not mention since it involves a person who should know better.  With the stress, Bipolar began to threaten.  I saw my psychiatrist Tuesday 18th Feb and she advised from a strictly medical point of view that I not go back into the past and previous Bipolar episodes and to not ‘wear’ the stigma people sometimes want to apply and likely caused by gossip from my previous parish.  Father last night agreed with my psychiatrist and told me to never ever go back into the past and I will leave stigma and the gossip as the other person’s problem not mine as hurtful as it can be.  Father also heard my Confession and assured me that I am in a state of Grace and returned to full baptismal innocence if there was any guilt – he put me into complete Peace of Soul once more.  He agreed with my doctor that I should not revisit previous Bipolar episodes, which after all are now 10 years in the past and failures the subject of a good Confession almost immediately after an episode ended and I was back to my normal self.

 

Result this morning: Bipolar no longer threatens and early warning signs absent - and if this perseveres I know I can handle this problematic to me person in my stride as the situation unfolds if it is The Lord's Will and with His Grace.

 

I rang diocesan offices before all the above trying to ascertain if our mental health chaplain was a priest or lay person.  No one seemed to know and the person who it was thought might know was in a meeting and would ring me back.  I have never received that call.  I sent an email to diocesan offices asking for an appointment with the mental health chaplain – no response.  This, to my assessment, is quite poor communication systems not deliberate actions.

 

Really desperate, I contacted the Jesuits asking if I could speak with a priest, this was refused me unless I attended Reconciliation at the normal time.  This would have been a week away when I rang. I did not exactly experience any sort of welcome understanding. 

 

So I resolved yesterday to jump into a taxi and go into The Cathedral to Reconciliation at 5pm and talk to a priest there.  I was outstandingly blest with a priest prepared to listen no matter the time it took and to give me every reassurance on all levels and spiritual advice. Fortunately, it seemed I was the last into the confessional with still some 20 minutes of Reconciliation time left.  I do plan to speak about it all to my SD when I next see him, although I am sad that it does involve a person who should know better -  and one who does not have a rightly informed and accurate attitude to mental illness and just may have heard inaccurate gossip from my previous parish– but now I know I can deal with that as it unfolds, content to let it all just unfold and handle things in my stride with The Lord’s unfailing help, who indeed with the prayers of others has brought me this far.  And my heartfelt thanks to those who have prayed with me - and been kind and generous enough to read these long posts.  They have been cathartic for me as writing can be in my case.

 

It is that insidious nature of Bipolar that I could go through serious major surgery without a blink almost and with Bipolar completely silent and then recover quickly in the same way.  In fact prior to surgery my surgeon was concerned that I was taking things so seemingly lightly.  I wasn’t really, I was just interiorly prepared for the worst of outcomes, which did not eventuate.  More thanksgiving due!  And then some nasty comments by an ill-informed person upset the applecart completely leaving an opening for temptation to get busy and also disturb Bipolar in a major way.  I had been not only in a state of disturbance but absolute confusion as well fighting to think straight and in a quiet logical manner (unsure if this was so until my psychiatrist reassured me :) ) while trying to prevent anxiety from becoming a panic attack.

 

But my psychiatrist is quite correct – I was doing it all to myself in taking nasty comments onboard as well as the temptations I was undergoing and allowing fear of Bipolar to almost consume me.  Taking such things onboard are probably the universal lot of those who suffer mental illness - we just have to learn, with the Lord on our side, to be bigger than it all.

 

But all is well that ends well and thanksgiving is in order.   All this is probably very difficult to impossible for a ‘normal mind’ to understand and I do understand and appreciate this.

 

As fond as I am of the word "journey", I see clearly now that up to the Home Mass itself is going to be a journey for me and with possible twists and turns, the unexpected and unanticipated - and forewarned can indeed be forearmed.

 

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TheresaThoma

BT I will pray for you. I am so excited for you, it sounds like things are moving  forward. 

I've never had to deal with any mental health issues but I did have to deal with epilepsy and I know how scary it can be when you don't know when it will happen next (in my case the worry and stress was one of my triggers so that made it worse). I know that God will see you through this and know that you have our support and prayers.

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BarbaraTherese

BT I will pray for you. I am so excited for you, it sounds like things are moving  forward. 

I've never had to deal with any mental health issues but I did have to deal with epilepsy and I know how scary it can be when you don't know when it will happen next (in my case the worry and stress was one of my triggers so that made it worse). I know that God will see you through this and know that you have our support and prayers.

 

 

Thank you very much.TT.   In my previous parish, I had a woman board with me for a while who suffered epilepsy and it is very scary not knowing when or where an epileptic seizure would occur and how to handle them and what to do if the seizure went on too long.  Very scary indeed.  May The Lord let you know He is close always in your own journey and guide you through your trials and sufferings with many consolations -  and thank you for your prayers for me - you will be in mine.

 

Now that things have moved on for me, I cannot understand at all why I had been so disturbed and confused yet I was.

I know that The Lord will indeed see me through to the Home Mass (now I am in a better/normal frame of mind), I just wasn't anticipating coming so close to 'the line' and one that scares the living daylights out of me!  The Lord knows what He is about, although not 24hrs ago or so I held that suspect too! :)  I never cease ever to wonder why when I am in Peace I think that I shall never leave Peace again - and when I am under stress and disturbance, I think that shall never leave stress and disturbance again.  Perhaps I had grown over-confident in Peace and Joy and needed shaking up and reminded.  Perhaps reliance on The Lord had become more confidence in self alone.  The Lord has His Reasons.

 

All shaken up and reminded, I am :wedgie:

 

 

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BarbaraTherese
 TheresaThoma: worry and stress was one of my triggers

 

 

Worry and stress is a major trigger for a Bipolar episode also - or at least these factors will sometimes onset early warning signs that Bipolar is very restless and about to flare into life.  It has been so many years since I have come so close to an episode (I think) as just recently that I think I forgot on some level somewhere that I do indeed suffer Bipolar Disorder still.

 

I hope that in your own journey, TT, insofar as might be possible you are able to avoid worry and stress. :)

 

My thoughts are that under more common or so called 'normal' circumstances, the brain (chemicals and firings) will come to the rescue of those experiencing worry and stress to help them deal with such situations - while with other people who have certain types of health problems, rather than help the person deal with worry and stress, the brain goes a little haywire and makes the situation worse triggering an episode of whatever the actual health problem might be.

 

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SilentJoy

BarbaraTherese, I wonder if you have heard of "Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach" (I'm sure you probably have - its been out there a while)? The author is a Sister with the Daughters of St. Paul who became bipolar later in life after suffering a stroke.

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BarbaraTherese

BarbaraTherese, I wonder if you have heard of "Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach" (I'm sure you probably have - its been out there a while)? The author is a Sister with the Daughters of St. Paul who became bipolar later in life after suffering a stroke.

 

No, I haven't heard of it, SJ - and thank you for the recommendation.  Actually, my brand of Bipolar is not expressed in depression, rather in mania - which in the past was classified as "psychosis".  I have only had Bipolar depression once in my now over 30 years journey and about 20yrs ago - and it was cruel.  It will be very interesting however to read a personal story by a religious related to MI.   Mental illness can take many forms and many degrees of -  but in order to survive it all probably takes the same sort of life skills.

I think it might be particularly difficult, however, to survive it all if one is in religious life.

 

When I first was diagnosed as Bipolar some six years after onset, I read everything I could available in the library on mental illness/Bipolar - and learnt that a little bit of knowledge could be a 'dangerous thing' and abandoned reading material. I don't mean at all to state that reading can be a 'dangerous thing' per se - rather that it was in my personal instance re my brand of Bipolar.  For many journeying with mental illness reading may be a real survival skill and a blessing.

 

My personal situation now has changed and reading about mental illness is helpful to me.

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SilentJoy

  It will be very interesting however to read a personal story by a religious related to MI.  

 

Well, she does mention her Bipolar struggles briefly in the book, but its mainly a guide for people dealing with depression in general. I'm sorry, I'm not sure if she has written anything more autobiographical or not. :(

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BarbaraTherese

Well, she does mention her Bipolar struggles briefly in the book, but its mainly a guide for people dealing with depression in general. I'm sorry, I'm not sure if she has written anything more autobiographical or not. :(

 

 At times I do come in contact with people experiencing depression including Bipolar depression (mentioning only two) so all comments and recommendations etc. re mental illness generally are helpful.  And it is really extremely helpful even if one learns only one thing one did not know before - affirmations of all kinds too are also extremely helpful.  I am putting your recommendation on my "To Get List" and eventually it will land read in my so called 'library'.  Thank you again for recommending the book.  My son recently announced his engagement and all pennies just now are going into my savings account. :)

 

It is not at all unusual for Bipolar to be associated with depression - as Bipolar is quite commonly thought of as a swing between depression and then mania when ill.  However, it can be only one or the other i.e. mania only or depression only and in my case in the latter years of Bipolar being active it was "psychotic mania" only - in other words, I could not connect with reality at all and was off 'into the clouds' (delusional thinking in my case) somewhere or other.  Between episodes, it is not uncommon for the sufferer to be completely 'normal' in common understanding and this has been my personal experience.  Such stretches of 'normality' can lead others to assume (if uneducated re mental illness) that the sufferer has only to 'pull themselves together'.  It is not recognized as an illness over which the sufferer has very little control or most often in cases of psychosis, no control whatsoever.

 

It can be and often is extremely difficult for a person in a quite 'normal' frame of mind to deal with a person suffering an episode of mental illness, especially if a psychotic episode as both are on completely different 'levels of thought'.  Mind you, much of my thoughts re mental illness are coming from my own experience and that of some others and as we reflect back.
 

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BarbaraTherese

Some time back, years back, in the Australia EJournal of Theology there was an excellent paper in parts, if some heavy reading, I think by Emma Pierce, about the importance of the input of what I think she called "the witness" or the actual sufferer of the MI and the importance of their input.  I did have it on my old computer but for some reason it has not transferred to this computer with the rest of my files.

 

For any interested, I was able to find it on Google - the short version is the Preface here:  http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/digitaltheses/public/adt-acuvp178.11112008/01front.pdf  The much longer entire Paper is here http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/digitaltheses/public/adt-acuvp178.11112008/02whole.pdf

 

  It was published through the Australian Catholic University Research Services and was submitted by Emma (a sufferer of MI herself) for a thesis in full requirement for a PhD, School of Theology Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  Australia.  "A Practical Theology of Mental Health - A Critical Conversation between Theology, Psychology, Pastoral Care and The Voice of The Witness".

 

I am always conscious that some simply read threads and do not contribute - and that Catholic Discussion Sites are open for anyone on the net to read - also with this Post I will put the documents into my files in my Favourites just in case needed in future.

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maximillion

The point of view and inclusion in ALL discussion re mental health by persons having a lived experience is essential.

 

A few years back the UK govt began paying for the time and effort put in by people with a lived experience and various projects began, especially the 'Let's Talk About Mental Health ' and Time to Change. Now that they are both off the ground the govt has said that this sort of inclusion is an example of good practice, but has stopped paying anyone for their input.

 

This has radically affected how many and what sort of people can manage to attend Commissioning Strategy meetings etc and has devastated the expert by experience input.

 

There is nothing like having it from the horses mouth..................

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BarbaraTherese

The point of view and inclusion in ALL discussion re mental health by persons having a lived experience is essential.

 

A few years back the UK govt began paying for the time and effort put in by people with a lived experience and various projects began, especially the 'Let's Talk About Mental Health ' and Time to Change. Now that they are both off the ground the govt has said that this sort of inclusion is an example of good practice, but has stopped paying anyone for their input.

 

This has radically affected how many and what sort of people can manage to attend Commissioning Strategy meetings etc and has devastated the expert by experience input.

 

There is nothing like having it from the horses mouth..................

 

I agree - "nothing like having it from the horses mouth".  The problem with sufferer input along with the professionals seems to me to be one of language.  Sufferers do not have the language at hand most often to talk directly to the sciences (including theology).  Emma does go into this in her submission.  She is (or was) quite a 'loud voice' for sufferers of MI, but then she had to study theology and get a PhD to be able to speak as a sufferer to the professionals.

 

I don't have anything to do with Public Mental Health here in Australia as a sufferer any more, but it used to seem to me that any input by sufferers was not regarded as particularly important to the whole conversation about mental illness in general, rather it was regarded as potentially helpful to sufferers only - not professionals (includes theology) who, it almost has seemed, have the answers, while sufferers still grope for them. This is a fallacy of course, but an underlying message nonetheless which comes across to the sufferer.  Also, here in Australia, the subject of mental illness will crop up for some brief reason and be equally brief  - and then silence once more particularly in The Church. Statistics for their worth state that one in five will suffer some form of mental illness in their lifetime, while I have read that in the USA it is upgraded to one in four, hence it is an important subject since so many are or will be affected.

 

Perhaps similar has happened in the UK where MI hits the headlines for some reason and it seems that things are moving.  Then media looses interest hence the professionals seem to do so also.  Because research into MI is complex and slow moving, reluctance is experienced to invest money if whatever might have been invested cannot show corresponding positive results,

 

There was much about Emma Pierce's PhD submission that struck me as having real value, but then there were things stated which left me wondering and questioning.  I cannot agree that mental illness in all instances does not have any sort of physical cause as cause rather than the physical aberrations being a result and that medication is always harmful.  Medication can be helpful in assisting the sufferer to arrive at a mental state where therapy can be productive and Emma's theory that there is no physical cause for mental illness is just as much a theory as that there is a physical cause.  Also, I think that in some sufferers the underlying cause of MI is not physical and therefore there is reason to aspire to overcoming and cure.  With other sufferers, I think there is an underlying physical cause as yet unidentified and persisting and in these sufferers, medication can be helpful in permitting them to live a 'normal' and productive life.  The problem is that as yet there is no way to identify where there is an underlying physical cause and where there is not.

 

But my theories are just as much theories as all the rest.

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BarbaraTherese

A few years back the UK govt began paying for the time and effort put in by people with a lived experience and various projects began, especially the 'Let's Talk About Mental Health ' and Time to Change. Now that they are both off the ground the govt has said that this sort of inclusion is an example of good practice, but has stopped paying anyone for their input.

 

This has radically affected how many and what sort of people can manage to attend Commissioning Strategy meetings etc and has devastated the expert by experience input.

 

 

I think that if professionals are paid for the expertise and input, then why not sufferers paid for their own unique expertise (drawing on their unique experiences) and input.  I think probably governments everywhere are under financial strain and sufferers of MI are not high on their priorities.  Where research funding might be available, I don't think that sufferer input is regarded highly enough and sufficient to be paid from available research funds.

Where sufferers might be paid for input, I think that it looks good to the public in media outlets, but is not truly valued as a form of unique expertise, even invaluable expertise, by research.

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maximillion

Theories as to 'causation'.

 

I am one who thinks that there is probably an underlying situation (maybe genetic predisposition) which when coupled with make up and personal experiences, all add up to MH problems.

I have also seen situation in which people with the same Dx respond very differently to the same medication - some not at all.

We are all so very different from each other, which IMO is why we need multi-faceted approaches to helping people.

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BarbaraTherese

Re Post #21 - all is resolved and Peace reigns and my dread and fear of another Bipolar episode has been allayed and Bipolar itself gone completely quiet once more.  It is the weirdest of phenomena (outside of the miracle of Grace) that so much disturbance, stress and temptation can almost suddenly vanish completely.  However, now I am alerted by experience just how quickly and unpredictably Bipolar can be disturbed and the type of life experience(s) likely to disturb it.  The lessons of history unlearned are often indeed bound to be repeated.

 

I was hoping that I could participate in parish life here without stigma in this relatively new suburb but it seems that I can't and probably due to Bipolar and stigma, since nothing else is present and talk/gossip can travel quickly across parishes.  Nothing can challenge what The Church teaches in Faith and Morals, but some things can challenge how Church Teaching and The Gospel is lived out on parish level and can highlight faults and failings.  I just need to strive to be bigger than stigma and not an impossibility since I have managed, with unfailing Grace always, to achieve this in the past.  It is a disappointment only since I did hope things would be different in this parish compared to my last.  Not so and disappointment is not a heavy cross nor trial at all. 

 

Jesus Himself was thought to be quite mad and there are instances in the lives of the saints where behaviour was suspect and assessed as quite crazy.  Two saints that come to mind are Sts Angela of Foligno and Francis of Assisi, both of whom early in their journey to holiness did exhibit quite strange behaviour.  doubtless had they lived in our times, they would have been raced off to psychiatrists perhaps to psychiatric wards.  I am not contesting, however, that I have a mental illness, because I think that I do.  Mental Illness, however, is not morally questionable - not sinful.

 

Fears by leadership in a Church community related to sufferers of mental illness are completely understandable, but understandable cannot ever make it right and justified in the light of  Church Teaching, of Jesus and His Gospel.  In other words, fears of sufferers of MI is a reason, but not an excuse, where a sufferer or sufferers must walk with their(not sinful) past an ever present reality forced on them through stigma.

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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TheresaThoma

BT- thank you so much for your insight on this. I work and live with pregnant women in need,it is a home of hospitality in the Catholic Worker tradition. Many of them come with mild MI (we can't take women with severe mental illness because we are in no way equiped to handle that). Its very helpful to hear what it is like and helps me understand a bit more about what they go through.

 

As for my own journey with epilepsy I was fortunate to find a medication that completely controls my seizures. I haven't had one in about 7 years now. Thanks be to God!

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BarbaraTherese

BT- thank you so much for your insight on this. I work and live with pregnant women in need,it is a home of hospitality in the Catholic Worker tradition. Many of them come with mild MI (we can't take women with severe mental illness because we are in no way equiped to handle that). Its very helpful to hear what it is like and helps me understand a bit more about what they go through.

 

As for my own journey with epilepsy I was fortunate to find a medication that completely controls my seizures. I haven't had one in about 7 years now. Thanks be to God!

 

I rejoice truly that medication is completely controlling seizures!  And thank you very much for being interested in the problems of sufferers of MI and supportive of them.  Wonderful too that Grace and medication has enabled you to be an important and contributing member of society and in an area of need.

 

It has been 10 years since I have had a serious episode of Bipolar manic psychosis exhibiting bizarre and weird behaviour - as I said, talk/gossip can travel quickly across the parishes in a diocese and I think what has happened in this parish, is that such incidences from the past may have travelled into this parish - hence I am forced to live with the past as an ever present reality...........and this is completely inaccurate.  I went back to college as an adult student probably around 10 years ago or so now and received high marks and an award of merit for outstanding student in Journalism 1.  I remained a successful student for 7 years. I also nowadays work voluntary in the offices of two charities outside Catholicism, who nevertheless do very worthwhile and needed work in the community.  I am accepted in these charities as a valued worker.

 

It is well known in MH circles by the experts that after stigma, the next most pressing problem and concern for those who do suffer MI is isolation and loneliness.  And these two latter do come about because of stigma.  I don't have these problems in my life other than stigma, because I do take steps so that stigma will not lead me to be isolated and feeling lonely in a human sense.

 

The important thing, I think, in the life of a sufferer of MI is to accurately identify their problem and then seek help to overcome it - and to be content with small steps and goals leading to a bigger goal and to be quite conscious of what those small and large goals might be.  Some sufferers of MI because of their confused state of mind often or even continually, do need assistance to identify what exactly their problem is and what appropriate goals might be.  Possibly too, they will need assistance and support to strive to attain goals.

 

Mental illness is a really 'hobby horse' of mine because I do understand and have experienced the problems of sufferers of MI and especially those problems which can come about through stigma.  Hence I often write about it all as I am more confident with writing than verbal communications.

 

I think it is very important for the various helping agencies in the community to be aware when a mental health problem is more than they can handle and to be very aware of where sufferers of quite serious MH problems may receive the expert help they need and to assist, if they are able, in helping a sufferer make the needed contact.

 

I was quite some time ago reading about detachment as a spiritual quest and thought to myself, one really knows when one is being stripped of EVERYTHING when one no longer has their own mind and the experience at times (or always) of MI sufferers.  Sadly, MI 'on the ground' (in parishes and other communities) can be thought of the same as moral failure or being morally reprobate and somehow the fault of the sufferer - that is,  sinful -  and this is the compartment in which they can 'drop' sufferers of MI.  Mental Illness is a complex and difficult problem but complexity and difficulty are reasons - not an excuse to abandon sufferers in any way.

 

I was watching a TV program earlier about one of our celebrities who suffered depression and recently committed suicide.  The guest on the program stated that to support a sufferer of MI it is not necessary to be an expert (that is someone else's department) but one can be a friend and supportive and this type of friendship in acceptance, friendship and support is probably essential to all, including sufferers of MI.

 

Thank you, TT, for giving me the opportunity to continue to rave on about MI and Mi sufferers! :)

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BarbaraTherese

I was watching a TV program earlier about one of our celebrities who suffered depression and recently committed suicide.  The guest on the program stated that to support a sufferer of MI it is not necessary to be an expert (that is someone else's department) but one can be a friend and supportive and this type of friendship in acceptance, friendship and support is probably essential to all, including sufferers of MI.

 

 

One of the panellists on the above programs said that she was quite frightened of people who suffered mental illness - but that she was going to try very hard in the future to overcome that fear.  I really felt then that the program had been a success.  She identified her problem and set a larger goal (overcoming fear) and between now and then, if she is successful, she will be taking small steps to her goal.  Sometimes we can set a larger goal and seem to work and work and work and never quite achieve it.  The far more important matter than attaining larger goals, is to be continually striving towards them having identified them as worthwhile and as The Lord's work, not ours.  Of course, we co-operate with Grace and The Lord, but victory is always His whether to human reasoning one is victorious or not.  "My Ways are not your ways".

 

One thing that panellist will not be doing if she sticks to her goal - and that is rationalizing her fear of sufferers of MI and condoning it.  That is a very big step indeed in my book and she has 'changed direction' or been on one road and switched to another diametrically opposed to it, challenging it's existence.

 

Success is always The Lord's realm - and mysterious can be His Ways as to why success is granted or withheld seemingly.  We can define success according to fallible human reasoning - but The Lord knows always what is best and actual success in Truth and He is continually orientated to Success in Truth - often mysterious to we mortals.    I posted into Transmundane today an extract from the writings of St Julian of Norwich http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/133208-julian-of-norwich-the-lord-guides-all-things/#entry2657654

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BarbaraTherese

The date for the Home Mass for receiving and renewal of private vows, plus blessing of "Bethany",  has been set as Monday 8th September 2014, Feast of The Nativity of Our Lady.  The invitations have arrived from the printer but I won't be posting them out until probably early July with a RSVP 31st July to allow me to organize.  The Home Mass will be at 10am followed by Morning Tea.  More than this I don't know until I see Father again in a few weeks mainly re Readings - I am unsure if we are going to use the Readings for the Feast or something else and I would like to print an Order of Mass (with responses) for those attending, some of whom are not Catholic.

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BarbaraTherese

Thank you, Immanuel. :) A very happy Easter to you and yours also..........and to all. :)

 

Besides updating my own journey as it unfolds, my hope is that the posts will provide information for those who might be considering private vows.  I have noticed on Catholic Discussion sites that quite a few do have impediments to religious life and other currently existing Church organizations or they may have no attraction to them.  They are often unaware of private vows as a valid and recognized way of life in The Church, as a potential call and vocation - while the lack of formal recognition and other "fixtures" of the formally recognized vocations are a distinct feature of private vows.  

 

               It is no easy vocation and I think that a good spiritual director is probably absolutely essential.  Like all vocations, it has its up times and its down times and the Grace of the vocation is essential and does make things easier to negotiate faithfully.  Some can think that it is a 'walk in the park' and an easy way of life.  Not so in that The Cross is ever present but borne with a certain spiritual conviction lightening any burdensome factors: "Come to Me all you who are burdened and I shall give you rest". For myself, I know I could walk no other road which does take a firm knowledge of vocation, dedication and perseverance, come what may, and Grace is ever present never failing. As Jesus promised, His Rewards are one hundredfold - far more than one hundredfold in fact.  Not the least of His Rewards are Peace, Joy and fulfilment.

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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