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BarbaraTherese

Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality

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BarbaraTherese

Just by way of bumping this thread really - a short update.........short, for my usual that is :

 

With the shock of the budget our new liberal government has proposed (shocking in the main not only to the public, but the far greater bulk of political and economic commentators too), if it all should go through our upper house without amendments, I am not reducing charity donations monthly nor my insurance policies (funeral and also contents).  All I will be reducing is the amount I can put away for emergencies and 'luxuries', and quite minimal anyway.

I have given consideration to disconnecting my home phone and the internet but have decided to leave them in place at this point.  Should I find that I just cannot manage adequately, then it will be the internet and home phone that will be eliminated rather than my charity donations and/or insurance covers.

 

I'm hoping this thread will not degenerate into political discussion and/or debate and another thread could be initiated, if necessary, in the debate forum for the purpose.

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Perigrina

Thanks for this thread.  People do not talk about mental illness enough, which contributes to all the fear and stigma around it.  You are providing a great service to us all.

 

If you have an opportunity to read The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge http://www.amazon.ca/The-Scent-Water-Elizabeth-Goudge/dp/1598568418 , I think you will find it helpful and enjoyable.  It is a work of fiction that involves a woman dealing with mental illness in a Christian way.

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BarbaraTherese

Thanks for this thread.  People do not talk about mental illness enough, which contributes to all the fear and stigma around it.  You are providing a great service to us all.

 

If you have an opportunity to read The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge http://www.amazon.ca/The-Scent-Water-Elizabeth-Goudge/dp/1598568418 , I think you will find it helpful and enjoyable.  It is a work of fiction that involves a woman dealing with mental illness in a Christian way.

 

First, thank you very much for the book recommendation.

 

My prognosis almost from the time I fell first ill with Bipolar gave no real hope at all to live a life free of it.  The best I could hope for would be to lead something of a normal life between episodes which were frequent and involved serious psychosis.  Between episodes I was regarded as 'normal' whatever that is and not even psychiatry knows - but at least I could live an ordinary sort of life until the next episode.  My life in the community would totally come apart during an episode - once it was over, I could leave hospital (psychiatric) and return home and I would start to try to put my life together again.  Most often, an episode would onset again before I had time really.

I had resigned myself to the rest of my life being what I called "God's yo yo" ........ in and out of hospital.

During that time I never lost my Faith.  I struggled and argued with it quite often, but Faith never left me completely.  At times, I would really wish that it would and psychiatry did regard it as a pathology and symptomatic of Bipolar.  It was something they felt they had to cure.  I believed that God could and did work miracles, but I never ever asked for one and a cure since I believed and still believe that I did not deserve it at all.  The innocent (not that I was innocent) can and do suffer dreadfully in life, then why not me was my reasoning.  What I did hope and pray for was the gift of living some sort of normal life free of serious psychosis and hospitalizations.  But I certainly never for a moment anticipated that my prayer might be answered.  I just had a desperate little hope deep down somewhere that I never really gave voice to since it was too distressing as one episode after another occurred putting me into the rapidly (for me) revolving door of hospital.

Psychiatry even asked me to leave Catholicism since the attitude to mental illness was (and still is to my knowledge) regarded as not very good at all.  I was advised to join the Anglican Church which has an excellent attitude to mental illness - a correctly informed attitude apparently.  I refused to join the Anglican Church and was labelled as having an irresponsible attitude towards my illness.

 

Then around ten years ago, quite suddenly my brand of Bipolar seemed to lessen in severity and then was quickly followed by the lack of any indication of an episode whatsoever.  Since birth, The Lord has always seen to it that I had some outstanding nun or priest in my path.  And during the severity of Bipolar, there were nuns and priests who were correctly informed re mental illness and were willing to take me totally under their wing despite the often quite socially distasteful matters that can be and were associated with my brand of Bipolar with serious psychotic episodes.  They never abandoned nor rejected me, rather they supported and encouraged me as I stumbled, fell and got up again with my Faith along my journey.

 

I can very honestly state that my Faith which was well informed in theology through my Dominican nuns education and my Faith with an informed theology was a constant guide and support throughout my illness, along with the priests and nuns whom I have mentioned.  That might sound a bit strange and I cannot fully explain it, since I really did fight and argue with my Faith and very often, but I never lost that Baptismal gift.  Though I struggled and argued with my Faith - at times feeling desperate and at times totally abandoned, I always knew that The Lord was there no matter what my feeling level might be.  And during those desperate times, I always knew beyond doubt that hidden under the species of bread and wine was Jesus, Second Person of The Blessed Trinity, Truly Man, Truly God.  At times I felt absolutely nothing, cold and dead inside - yet His Presence in The Blessed Eucharist was very real and concrete to me.  There is a line in the Psalms "Truly, You are a God who lies hidden".

 

It is approximately ten years or so, more or less I do not know, since I suffered an episode of Bipolar.  However, my doctor did inform me that I am a marked eccentric and people can and do mistake my eccentricities (which are just normal to me) as symptoms of Bipolar. They are not.

 

Hence, I now feel that I am ready to have Father John receive my private vows in September 2014 coming.  I made private vows over 30 years ago now, but I kept them in the main between The Lord and I alone, because I knew (and still feel that I was right) that people would not understand at all and right the vows and me off as completely mentally ill and not really knowing what I was doing.  I did know what I was doing, and I knew that if the whole wide world did not understand, it did not matter one iota to me.  I knew that The Lord understood and never ever doubted it.

 

Most all the people around me (including family) consider me as single only because no one wanted a woman who suffered serious mental illness or similar thinking.  I rather often can be regarded as tuppence short of two bob and someone to be smiled and at and say "Hi" and then best ignored.  Though I am renewing my vows at a Home Mass, it will be a very small gathering of family and friends...........and I'm laughing now because most still will probably regard me as they always have done.  But seeking a change of attitude is not my objective in having my vows received by Father during a Home Mass.  Oh not my objective at all - my objective is very far beyond that.

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BarbaraTherese

I don't know how many times I have (and still do) prayed the prayer since my illness onset at 28yrs (I am now almost 69yrs old) and prayed it with absolute determination of my will and with real true grit and totally ignoring my feeling level no matter how dreadful - and I went literally from riches to poverty, homelessness and very real illness, abandoned by family and friends : "Lord, I do not care how You permit me to be treated at all, and I do not care not one little bit, I am never ever going to stop loving and serving You if You will but grant me that Grace. Amen".

 

If all I have written just does not fall into place, does not make sense nor logic.  It is as is anyway.

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BarbaraTherese

Had appointment with my SD this week.  He will be away interstate at the end of August for a few months.  Father has reset the date tentatively therefore to 15th. August, Solemnity of The Assumption.  Time of day as morning, afternoon or evening is as yet unknown.  He hopes to be able to confirm at the end of June.

 

I have already had invitations printed which were not costly.  These are now headed for the 'round file' and what I will be doing, which I should have done in the first place I think, is buy some really simple yet good printing paper and making my own invitations and running them off on the printer just prior to actual posting.  Father John rather regularly is called interstate.

 

Father gave me the option of choosing my own Readings or the Readings from the Lectionary for the Feast of The Assumption.  I will be choosing the latter.  He has not received an answer as yet as to where in The Mass I am to renew the vows and he has suggested at the Offertory but it is not yet confirmed from diocesan offices and appropriate authority. I am surprised Father has suggested the Offertory as I thought it would have to be either before or after Mass, but higher authority will advise in due course.  Although, if it is the Offertory, I will be again overcome.  As it is, The Feast of The Assumption was a real surprise and a great Joy.  These sorts of matters do fill one with great Joy but at the same time are entirely humbling.  It makes one feel very small indeed and the distance between self and the Glorious Goodness of The Lord even greater.  It does make one wonder with St Paul (see quote below)- who indeed are we?  Nothing is earned, nothing is deserved....a nothing simply is everywhere.  Yet The Lord bridges that immeasurable distance, in fact all of Scripture is the story of God seeking out His creatures longing for their friendship and to understand Him as Friend (reflecting today's Gospel).  Who indeed are we?  And one comes to insight something of just why we do have the gift of free will.

 

I think I am very blessed in my SD being a priest and religious and one who is totally loyal to Rome and thus our Archbishop.  Father is not making any move at all without consulting higher up first and this is very reassuring for me, although initially I was quite surprised.  I had no idea of the formalities Father would adopt.  And our Archbishop too is entirely loyal to Rome and very strictly so. 

 

_____________

Hebrews Ch2 http://www.drbo.org/chapter/65002.htm "What is man, that thou art mindful of him: or the son of man, that thou visitest him? [7] Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels: thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and hast set him over the works of thy hands: [8] Thou hast subjected all things under his feet. For in that he hath subjected all things to him, he left nothing not subject to him."

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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BarbaraTherese

Just to finish off the quotation from Hebrews I quoted above :

 

"But now we see not as yet all things subject to him. [9] But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the author of their salvation, by his passion.

 

( To perfect the author: By suffering, Christ was to enter into his glory which the apostle here calls being made perfect.)


[11] For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: [12] I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the church will I praise thee. [13] And again: I will put my trust in him. And again: Behold I and my children, whom God hath given me. [14] Therefore because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner hath been partaker of the same: that, through death, he might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil: [15] And might deliver them, who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to servitude.


[16] For no where doth he take hold of the angels: but of the seed of Abraham he taketh hold. [17] Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful priest before God, that he might be a propitiation for the sins of the people. [18] For in that, wherein he himself hath suffered and been tempted, he is able to succour them also that are tempted. "

 

 

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BarbaraTherese

That is exciting and it will be all in God's time!

 

:) Amen!

It is a few weeks now since I have known that approval was given for renewing and receiving my vows at a Home Mass, but I was hoping that Father would delay the actual Mass for a few months (which he did) as I wanted the first flush and high of the Joy of approval being given to fade, and for me to actually renew and have the vows received when I was not in a high emotional state.  Although I think probably at the time the excitement will abound, but by then I would have thought it all through in a quite logical and rational state of mind.

When Father told me he was seeking permission through The Archbishop and Vicar General I had resigned myself to a negative response from them.  My illness and 20 years of serious psychosis is well known in diocesan offices.  I was totally unprepared for permission to be obtained.  Hence the state of excited high emotional content when Father told me approval had been granted.

 

Since making the private vows to the evangelical counsels 30 years ago quite privately between The Lord and I, I have regarded those vows as very serious commitments.  The vows being received by Father at a Home Mass is to me one step further and the confirmed by The Lord final step in my private vows journey.

 

I am trying to keep everything in this one thread in the hope that it will be information to those who might be considering private vows to the evangelical counsels.  I do think it is an option for those who desire religious life but have impediments at least as an option to discern.  And with spiritual direction.

 

Private vows in the lay secular state is a totally different vocation to religious life, but once I did realize that the Bipolar illness I suffered would probably prove an impediment to any religious order, it did seem to me an option that I could discern.

Insofar as the vow of obedience is concerned, Father had me write my own Rule of LIfe and then approved it and I am bound under this rule - not as a matter necessarily of sin if I fail, but I do take it very seriously nevertheless.  As all lay secular people are, I am bound to obedience to my parish priest, my Archbishop and Rome as well as any legitimate authority over me, secular or religious.

 

My community is any person in my path (sighting as I do that such are there through God's Will) and this includes on Catholic Discussion Sites.  Hospitality and true friendship are marks of the Bethany Way of Life, while the Rule of Life is subheaded in each division by the phrases of the Our Father.

 

"Bethany" is both the name of my residence and also my way of life.  Bethany per se as a noun has a very long history especially in the New Testament over and above being the home of Martha, Mary and Lazurus, close friends of Jesus.  Some of the meanings of Bethany are : "house of poverty", "house of invalids", "ford in the river" (where stock and women and children also the frail can cross safely).  It's New Testament location is probably on the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem.  It is felt that probably the Essenes established a house there for the sick and especially lepers and lepers had to reside a certain distance from the Temple in Jerusalem.  People who do suffer especially serious and continually overt mental illness to me are very often our 21st century lepers nowadays. People are frightened of them and tend to want to avoid them, especially making friendships with them. In the suburb in which I lived for 30 years there were many indeed such sufferers and my heart went out to them (with empathy since I was a feelow sufferer) and they were welcome in Bethany at all times, sometimes just for a cuppa, smoke and a chat - at other times for some sort of assistance.  I took in ironing 6days x 365 (week off at Christmas) to have the funds necessary at times to be of assistance to others.  But most of all, visitors to Bethany became quite close friends, pals.

 

When I was mandatorily shifted to this more affluent suburb, the way of life in Bethany in a marked manner did change - but soon a whole way of life just unfolded in my path.  Another mark of the Bethany way of life is adherence to the unfolding of Divine Providence of The Lord and His Will and in trustful confidence - as the days and hours unfold for Divine Providence and God's Will is an unfolding matter.

 

I have long longed for and prayed for a companion for this way of life.  It has never happened to date and so may The Lord's Will be praised and this has been a difficult matter for me at times.  Mind you, I never have 'advertised' really Bethany as a potential way of life for others.  At times I have rather briefly mentioned it and when no one was interested, let the subject go.  If I am meant to have a companion, then The Lord will bring me one - He needs to nudge nor help from me, other than my prayerful hope for at least one companion.  And I am a bit long in the tooth now.  I can feel at times that I am living a sort of eremitical type of life (features of) without having a vocation to such - and especially in this new suburb.  But The Lord knows best and what He is about even though it is mystery to us.
 

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BarbaraTherese

One interesting point from my long ago past life is during my much younger years, if I went out at night and most often into the city just to be able to go out and have a coffee and smoke somewhere or other for a break and different faces from the routine in Bethany - and then come home, every single time without fail when I went out, I came across someone in need.  This used to quite perplex me.  Then long ago, I learnt there is no such thing as accidental nor coincidence, it is always The Holy Spirit at work (Divine Providence) and without fail.  He who knows when a hair drops from our head is at work in every incident and circumstance in our journey, no matter how nondescript and ordinary, small and minute.  Sound Catholic theology that 'unfuddled' my perplexities and on quite a few fronts. The Lord is at work in us in all things without fail and this fits in with the theology of St Therese of Lisieux and also Jean Pierre de Caussade's work "Abandonment to Divine Providence".  The works of these two speak to each other as it were.  While the work of Fr Jean Pierre SJ is not as outstanding in it's simplicity as that of St. Therese in her autobiography.

 

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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BarbaraTherese

This is so beautiful...Blessed be God! :)

 

 

 

Amen!  It highlights indeed the overwhelming Gratuitous Goodness to even His most least.

 

During the years (20) when Bipolar was very active involving serious psychosis.  My Faith remained intact despite severe struggles at times.  Due to the fact that my episodes were psychotic, I did not know what was real nor unreal and hence my theology was often right off and decidedly inaccurate, but Faith itself remained intact.

I have just finished emailing a contemplative prioress I know and was speaking about the above.  I can have no guarantees after around 10 years without an episode that one will never occur again; however, I am confident that my vows being received during Mass will temper any episode to a marked degree since I know these episodes and their content quite well.  For me, the vows being received at Mass is akin to final profession for me and confirmation that I do indeed have a vocation from God to this way of life.

 

I held off having my vows received during Mass for all the years that I have done as I did not want any episode to become an embarrassment to The Church.  Not that there is anything public (iChurch terminology) about private vows received during Mass.  There is no public consecration of the person. He or she remains in every way a lay person in secular life and in no way directly connected to consecrated life.  It is a consecration of oneself to God received by a priest during Mass.  Public consecration is a consecration by The Church and in a quite public manner both in Church terminology and in general understanding of the word "public". I specifically wanted a Home Mass rather than in a Church itself and to invite only family and close friends - and for the same reason.  I suffer Bipolar and if an episode should occur again, I do not want even the remotest shadow to fall on The Church.  Of course, there is no logical reason whatsoever why it should; however, it just might do so in the eyes of the public generally, many of  whom still have inaccurate information about mental illness, and stigma still does prevail based on inaccurate information and sometimes even amongst practising Catholics - and sadly, some religious and priests.
 

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TheresaThoma

Thank you so much for sharing a bit more about your way of life. It is beatiful and obviously well thought out. Who knows, maybe God will inspire others to follow in the Bethany way.  :smile2:

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BarbaraTherese

Thank you so much for sharing a bit more about your way of life. It is beatiful and obviously well thought out. Who knows, maybe God will inspire others to follow in the Bethany way.  :smile2:

 

Thank you for your very kind thoughts, Theresa.  Your patron is surely St Therese of Lisieux, a Memorare to her in honour of Our Lady would be much appreciated.  I really would like at least one companion for this way of life, even as my teeth do grow longer.  I have thought on and off about a blog, but it seems to me that they are very time consuming.  I did start one now and then, but it seemed to me I got much too carried away and much time was indeed consumed.

I am unsure if this way of life is so much well thought out as it just unfolded in my path bit by bit - and as I went, I tried to define those 'bits' searching out for the direction The Lord may be pointing me.  Eventually, the 'bits' became a whole way of life. Undoubtedly my now SD has speeded things up by a marked degree.  I am very blest in him. 

 

Thank you again :)

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TheresaThoma

Actually my patrons are St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka St Edith Stien) and St Thomas Aquinas.

Though I do like St Therese as well.

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BarbaraTherese

:)

Apologies for getting your patron saint wrong - although not too distant, St Teresa Benedicta being Carmelite nun like St Therese Lisieux.  I think St Thomas Aquinas may have been a Dominican, unsure.

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Perigrina

:)

Apologies for getting your patron saint wrong - although not too distant, St Teresa Benedicta being Carmelite nun like St Therese Lisieux.  I think St Thomas Aquinas may have been a Dominican, unsure.

 

Yes, St. Thomas Aquinas was Dominican.  Also awesome.

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BarbaraTherese

69 Days -  9 Hours - 41mins to The Solemnity of The Assumption of Our Lady and Home Mass.

 

 

 

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TheresaThoma

:)

Apologies for getting your patron saint wrong - although not too distant, St Teresa Benedicta being Carmelite nun like St Therese Lisieux.  I think St Thomas Aquinas may have been a Dominican, unsure.

 

No worries, with all the Theresa/Teresas in the Church it is easy to get confused.

 

St Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican, much to his family's dismay and despite their best efforts. (They locked him in a tower at one point to try to get him to not become a Dominican).

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BarbaraTherese

No worries, with all the Theresa/Teresas in the Church it is easy to get confused.

 

St Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican, much to his family's dismay and despite their best efforts. (They locked him in a tower at one point to try to get him to not become a Dominican).

 

Thank you for your kindness.  :like3:

I owe much to my Dominican education by Dominican nuns.......very much! :)

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