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Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality


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Just need to add that in commending the Aged Mental Health ward in Adelaide South Australia - they were absolutely marvellous.  Nothing was too much for the staff and they were willing, friendly and efficient.  Most of all possibly is that the dignity of patients was preserved and I do suspect as a factor in their training - we sufferers of MI can be bitter pills indeed at times. :) ........... I sure can be I know.

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I've read a great deal of your posts and my heart is gladdened by your journey with our Lord. Like another has mentioned, I am glad to see you post after your hiatus. I would love to read a little synopsis of what your vocational path looks like now. You are still in vows, yes? 

Yes, you have had so many ups and downs with your SMI, but you continue to return to your Heavenly Spouse, and I am so glad of His calling you to His side and your obedience to Him!

As for your lack of support from your parish, honestly I know of many who would say the same...and the reasons have nothing to do with MI.  Sometimes, the priest is overwhelmed with the demands of his parish. Some consider the role as parish priest more of a job, I'm sad to say, from my own experience. In the past I know I approached my own priests with requests for spiritual advice or even SD, but some are not trained in spiritual direction, and even asking for more in-depth spiritual advice leaves some priests seemingly uncomfortable... 

I think we might have chatted on the Phorum many moons ago. I was here, then left due to life and all its complexities. (Like you, I entered a monastery years ago, but I left prior to making any vows.) 

I've perused and lurked on here ever so often. And am always interested to read vocations of a non-cenobitic nature. Tonight, I thought to exit from the shadows for a moment to say hello. I will certainly add you and your needs to my list of intentions when I head to my own chapel for prayer as unworthy as they might be.

Please keep me, an unworthy sinner, in your own prayers, if you would be so kind.

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Hi His Child.............Here comes another unworthy sinner, a most unworthy sinner, in reply and thank you for your Post.  I ducked in to Phatmass as I wanted to post a couple of sound resource videos on mental illness.  My own journey and indeed that of others belongs in this thread ... I am the author or original poster and I suffer a serious mental illness, bipolar disorder, and I journey with private vows.

Yes, I still very much embrace my private vows as intrinsic to my journey.  I wrote my own rule of life, requested by my then priest religious spiritual director.  He approved that rule for me.  He also requested of our Archbishop that I be permitted a Home Mass to renew life vows.  His Grace gave his permission commenting verbatim apparently "This is a good way to do it".  In that rule, I have specified that should I have an episode of bipolar then for that period my rule of life is suspended.  In the past, and I have a probably 40 year history of bipolar disorder with around 35 years of quite privately, and kept private, I made private vows to the evangelical counsels.  In the past, immediately an episode was concluded including a period of adjustment after any episode, I returned fully to my rule of life.  My personal spirituality is that of a persons suffering a mental illness and undertaking private vows to the evangelical counsels.  My rule of life defines how I am to live out those vows.

Another factor of my personal spirituality and way of life is to talk to Jesus when back functioning ok and no sign of an episode, to talk with Him about any future episode.  Now I know and He knows that during an episode my thinking is way of kilter to my normal frame of mind and sometimes really and totally way off and behaviour can be as well, but during a more normal type of phase, I offer whatever I might suffer during any future episode to Him and in unity with His Own Sufferings and Death.   St Teresa of Avila said that prayer during illness and suffering can be the most powerful of all.  I believe that offering any future sufferings to Him in Unity with His Cross is quite valid - knowing as I do just how confused and distorted my sufferings can be.  I can rest powerfully in that and I do.

I don't make any excuses for what has happened to me in connection with past bipolar episodes and my parish and pp.  I think for myself that such thinking is rationalisations when I have no idea in truth why I have been treated the way I have.  I have my suspicions of course, but suspicions are not thereby facts.  One priest in fact said to me that he did not even want to hear the term mental illness let alone discuss anything related to it.  I never went back to see him again.  My focus is where I am at at any given moment and how to proceed in my journey.  Generally speaking and going by my experiences and that of others I know, there is something wrong somewhere in the day to day human functioning in The Church as parish and parish leadership.  Parishioners who are struggling with MI are falling through cracks and quite possibly perhaps, cracks created by false facts related to stigma.  One of the videos I am going to post relates to the stigma of MI as well as stigma in general and how they come about.  Real and actual reasons for these cracks in our Catholic system are probably complex and quite diverse from area to area, leadership to leadership.  It seems to be rather endemic, or there would not be the number of persons suffering MI speaking about their quite negative parish experiences.  The way I travel along is that if The Lord wants me to address something, there will be a window open.  There have been occasions in the past.

I think we probably have chatted, HC.  I do recall your Phatmass name, while unable to fit you in anywhere in particular, a particular forum or discussion.

Thank you very much indeed for prayer as you will remain in mine.  You are blest indeed to have a chapel.  

Thank you again too for your Post and all posts most welcome in this thread.

I will take a bit of a break and then return to post two videos from Youtube from quite sound and professional sources related to bipolar and mental illness, stigma.

Warm regards............Barb

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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The following is lengthy and I have posted it before.  However, it now has been sufficiently past tense, to warrant in my book to be posted again.  It is one of the most theologically important talks/texts I have every come across of great value and even consolation to sufferers of mental illness.

I have only posted the opening paragraphs and the more or less final ones.  A great portion of the document, which I have not posted here, is more apt for mental health professionals I think.





Address at World Day of the Sick ADELAIDE, Australia, FEB. 18, 2006 Here is an excerpt of an address Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, prepared for World Day of the Sick. The main events of the World Day were held Feb. 9-11 in Adelaide. 

Cardinal Lozano Barragán's Address at World Day of the Sick 

ADELAIDE, Australia, FEB. 18, 2006 Here is an excerpt of an address Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, prepared for World Day of the Sick. The main events of the World Day were held Feb. 9-11 in Adelaide. 

Is the Mentally Ill Patient a Deformed Image of God


3. Faithful Image of God 

Therefore, once the mental illness has caused such a disorder as to take away from the mentally ill patient any responsibility for his actions -- qualifying them as separation from the divine will, as a sin -- the mental patient cannot separate from God. In other words, the image of God in him cannot be distorted.

In this case his knowledge or his volitive option is no longer sufficient to motivate any human action that separates him from God. His bodily and psychic conditions do not allow him to commit a grave sin, given that in his state of disequilibrium he does not have that full knowledge and ability of assent required to sin. 

If we approach the argument from this point of view, whereby the mentally ill patient does not have the knowledge or the faculty of full consent required to commit a mortal sin, his is not a deformed image of God, since that image can only be deformed by sin. Certainly, it is the suffering image of God, but not a deformed image. He is a reflection of the mystery of the victorious Cross of the Lord. Inspired by the image of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh (Isaiah 53:1-7) we are drawn to a conscious act of faith in the suffering Christ.

It is not by chance that in the old popular Mexican language, a mad person was called "bandito," that is, "blessed"; […] without the full use of reasoning, he was unable to commit sin and was, therefore, destined to eternal life. 

It is true that the objective disorder of sin and its consequences are manifest in the mentally ill patient; however, at the same time, there is in him the historical equilibrium of the only possible order, the order and equilibrium of the Redemption. 

This is not comprehensible to a secularized mentality; it is only understood within the context of Christian optimism, which stems from a reasoned faith that tells us how in such circumstances our obligations towards a mentally ill person, on one hand, satisfy our duty to see the suffering Christ in the poor and less protected; and on the other hand the idea of seeing in the patient the love of God who has indicated him as his chosen one, in the sense that he shall not be separated from Him. 

He is therefore a proof of the crucified love of God. Hence, the best thing we can do is to give them a treatment of love. Since the mentally ill patient is also the image of the resurrected Christ, we have the obligation of being the "Good Samaritan," that is, providing all that is necessary for his care. 



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                                    Progress is impossible without change

                                   And those who cannot change their minds

                                                                      Cannot change anything


                                                                                               (Bernard Shaw)





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  • 2 weeks later...

                                 Blessed is the soul who trusts in Jesus

                              He is lavish in His Promises and generous

                                    in giving His Graces and Treasures

                                                       (St Frances Xavier Cabrini, Feast day 13th November)

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Constance Fitzgerald OCD - Baltimore Carmel

Quite some years ago now, I fell over this explanation of The Dark Night as Impasse.  It interested me because I certainly knew and experienced what impasse was, while such terms as The Dark Night and explanations of it left me cold.  Also many years ago I had rung (prior to reading the article) my Carmelite Prioress "Sister, what IS the dark night?"  "You are in it, dear"  When we hung up, I thought to myself that Sister's reply was no help at all and I was still very much in the dark.

When I sort of fell over the article from Baltimore Carmel, I read it through because I certainly had known and experienced impasse.  When I got to the subject heading "Impasse" things started to fall into place for me about The Dark Night per se.  The whole article turned out to be for me the best explanation I had ever come across re explaining what TDN is as an experience in ordinary everyday language, the ordinary experiences of life.  It was Thomas Merton who wrote, I think, that we must either become mystics or fail in our journey.  Something like that.....it may have even been Anthony de Mello who wrote it.  De Mello is frowned upon by the Vatican and for good reason I think.  But I do try to never throw out the baby with the bathwater.

My summary is that there are far more mystics in life than we realise.  Mystical type of unusual phenomena is not the essence of the mystic and the mystical experience.  That type of phenomena is very rare and a gift to certain souls only - a beautiful gift to The Church.  In fact, St Teresa of Avila does warn about desiring such phenomena and its dangers.  The essence of mysticism is Love of God and of neighbour (and as St Teresa affirms).  It is the ongoing journey of a soul through life striving to live out those two commandments of Jesus.  There are some 'perilous'/'difficult' stages in the journey, which is why it is so very important to have sound spiritual direction.

I had read the works of St Teresa of Avila and also those of St John of The Cross (more years before reading the Fitzgerald article on Impasse) and these two saints struck me as being from an entirely different planet to me.  For me, some life experiences anyway and reading an author's understanding of what they wrote in contemporary type of language spoke louder to me - especially in the text I am about to post here.  I was able, however, after a few more years to return to Sts Teresa and John and have some understanding anyway.  The interesting thing to me is that in the Dark Night of Sense and most especially in that of Soul or Faith, trying to console a person experiencing these (passive)nights, there is absolutely no real consolation possible.  Such a person is in God's Hands alone and only.


A thread has been opened in Open Mic on  "Difference between the Passive Night of the Senses and Desolation".  I have not posted into that thread because I think that there are many ways, language: nouns, adjectives, verbs etc., to express TDN.  One manner might appeal to some while a different manner has appeal for others.  Constance Fitzgerald OCD from Baltimore Carmel did it for me, while it may have no appeal to another(s).  The journey through life and through The Dark Nights will likely be different and unique perhaps to different people, while the essence of The Dark Night remains the same always.

When I sighted the thread on Open Mic earlier today, I went searching for the Fitzgerald article.  However, I had my author wrong (I thought it was Ruth Burrows OCD) and Google would not help me until I got the title of the article more correct.  Google kept wanting to search for The Dark Knight as Impasse.  LOL  I really had a good laugh at that because it could say something anyway about the DN experience.

Now I have eventually found the article again, I have copied and pasted it into a Word Document for my files so I will not lose it again.  For quite a few years, Google had no problems locating it.  Now it seems to be buried in a book as one article amid a few articles, but thankfully published on the internet.

I will leave things at that, take a break and then post the link and an excerpt from the article.  Personally, though I had read the entire work, it was only the sections on "Impasse" and "Societal Impasse" that I took on board.  Although for others a read of the entire work may speak for them and while it is very long, it is worthwhile, rewarding.

Hot here today.  I have the air conditioner on, but right now I am going to make coffee, have a smoke and sit out under my pergola.  I allow myself one packet only of cigs a fortnight.  Not for any noble reason whatsoever.  Rather, cigarettes are too jolly expensive!  If I had the money, I would smoke full time again.  I was talking to someone on the phone today and she said "You are a really good person".  I laughed and said "Oh don't worry, I have another side too, no worries at all".

Here in Adelaide, South Australia, after a good month it must be free of local cases of COVID with restrictions gradually lifting to almost normal once more - any cases have all been from interstate flights largely bringing Australians home again from all over the world almost. They were then held for 14 days in quarantine in hotels deemed Medi-hotels. Now we have an outbreak that has travelled into the community before it was detected.  We now have a six day very strict indeed restriction trying to bring the outbreak into control, some sort of control anyway.  At this point, the medical professionals advising the government are hoping that it will not be longer than 6 days, as the once open borders to our various Australian states slam shut to us once more.  We are the 'leper state' now - i.e. no one wants us.

I hope the above posts ok.  We lose our edit facility so quickly.  I am gone - will post the article and link in my next post.

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"Living with Apocalypse -

Spiritual Resources for Social Compassion"


Scroll down a bit to: "6. Impasse and Dark Night"


My comment:  I can't give an excerpt from the article because of the Harper Collins copyright.

I had a quick read through the rest of the article before and after "Impasse" and "Societal Impasse".  It is worth reading; however some may find the final section "Female Impasse" somewhat confusing.

My copy and paste into a Word document did not paste well at all.  


Just now, BarbaraTherese said:

"Living with Apocalypse -

Spiritual Resources for Social Compassion"


Scroll down a bit to: "6. Impasse and Dark Night"


My comment:  I can't give an excerpt from the article because of the Harper Collins copyright.

I had a quick read through the rest of the article before and after "Impasse" and "Societal Impasse".  It is worth reading; however some may find the final section "Female Impasse" somewhat confusing.

My copy and paste into a Word document did not paste well at all.  

One thing I did note in reading the final section under "Female Impasse" is that it is prophetic re the situation the world now faces with COVID.  Of course, however, the author did not predict COVID - a read between the lines does.



That same final section is reflective of a book Pope Benedict wrote when still a Cardinal: "Faith and The Future".  I am always racing because the edit facility lasts only a short time.  I will search for the quote from Pope Benedict's book and post it.

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CERC - Catholic Education Resource Centre" - My comment:  A really excellent website!


Excerpt from Cardinal Ratzinger's book"Faith and the Future" (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009):

Excerpt: "The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members....

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of ......."........ read on at above Catholic Resource link.


Again, the two sources I have referred to: Impasse, Constance Fitzgerald OCD and the book Faith and The Future by Cardinal Ratzinger, do not state their respective prophetic outlook or vision in the same terms; however, a read between the lines is not difficult to connect it with COVID and our world crisis. 

My tuppence is that with the scandal in The Church and now the world crisis with COVID, we are going to need to pray for and to activate the Gifts of The Holy Spirit at Confirmation....... perhaps Fortitude........especially.  We need to hang on to our Faith for dear life as it were, along with whatever the future may hold, or not hold.

Gifts and Fruits of The Holy Spirit:




http://rclbsacraments.com/confirmation/confirmation-gifts-fruits-holy-spirit "These seven gifts help us to respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to make good choices, and to serve God and others.

Wisdom is the gift of knowing the right choices to make to live a holy life. The gift of wisdom helps you to avoid the things that could lead you away from God.
Understanding is the gift of comprehension, or the ability to grasp the meaning of the teachings of the Church. The gift of understanding helps you be tolerant and sympathetic of others. It helps you sense when someone is hurting or in need of compassion.
Right Judgment, or Counsel, is the gift of prudence. The gift of right judgment helps you make choices to live as a faithful follower of Jesus.
Courage, or Fortitude, is the gift that helps you stand up for your faith in Christ. The gift of courage helps you overcome any obstacles that would keep you from practicing your faith.
Knowledge is the gift of knowing and enlightenment. The gift of knowledge enables you to choose the right path that will lead you to God. It encourages you to avoid obstacles that will keep you from him.
Reverence, or Piety, is the gift of confidence in God. This gift of reverence inspires you to joyfully want to serve God and others.
Wonder and Awe, or Fear of the Lord is the gift of wonder and respect that encourages you to be in awe of God. The gift of wonder and awe moves you to so love God that you do not want to offend him by your words or actions."

The 12 Fruits of The Holy Spirit HERE ("The 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit are signs that the Holy Spirit is alive within us and helping us live the Catholic faith in our daily lives")



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                               Knowledge Is Necessary for Venial Sin

CATHOLIC ANSWERS STAFF https://www.catholic.com/about




https://www.catholic.com/qa/knowledge-is-necessary-for-venial sin


Do you have to have knowledge to commit a venial sin?


Yes, some knowledge is necessary for a venial sin to be committed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent (CCC 1862).

For the sin to be mortal, full knowledge is required:

For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent (CCC 1857).



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Morally wrong acts of thought, word or deed can only be classified as "grave matter" or "not grave matter".  Sin involves two other conditions of the will (full knowledge + full consent) before it can be a sin at all (see previous post).  And see HERE

To read what the Catholic Catechism (CCC) states, go to HERE - Vatican Website CCC and scroll down to #1849 .



Baptism will remove all sins of the past.

#1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. Catholic Catechism - Vatican website - #1263


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Once a bipolar episode is over, one is not able to immediately return to normal daily activity.  That is sort of a given with a bipolar episode.  "Not able" may be for a quite short time or for a longer time.  It is a period of adjustment from the routine in hospital to the routine at home in my case this time.  I have been at very least 12 years and certainly more since my last serious episode.  But this last episode was the worst I have ever had in my 47 year history of bipolar.

After my immediate past episode, and a serious psychotic episode (due probably to initial pneumonia and high temperatures), I have not been able to return to a fully normal daily routine for me and it has been some time since the episode concluded.  The blessing is indeed, that I give myself sufficient time for as long as I need; however, this time, I have not been able to return to my normal formal prayer routine despite every effort - and it was distressing.  I was still able to pray mentally, just not my normal formal routine which most always has been an important part of my daily routine.

This evening I was able to pray Evening Prayer after spending a bit of mental prayer, begging The Lord to make me take up His Grace to go back to my routine, which I knew was present.  His Grace to pray formally as undoubtedly present, I mean.

I feel real Joy that I was able to pray Evening Prayer tonight - mind you it has been I think around 2 months or even more since I returned home from hospital.  I take the time I need, whatever I need is the appropriate length.  It is 8.04pm here as I write and it is always one day at a time.  I have concluded today happily.  Thank you My Lord and Teacher, thank you very much.  I have no doubts at all that my desire was more based on what I wanted, rather than a pure desire to be about His Will.  But then He Joyfully accepts the most humble of offerings indeed from His least, His most weakest disciple stumbling along His Way, endlessly rising and falling, rising again in each and every day.  The seeming only alternative is the abyss of darkness and despair just over there, which always beckons.


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There was another program on Channel 2 tonight, following my thread into Open Mic "Absolutely amazing ... ", the program was titled "In The Face of Terror".  It was horrific.  The story of a journalist totally dedicated to the press as an agency for change.  He was tortured and then beheaded by two Isis terrorists from the group known as "The Beatles".  That and what followed "Media Watch" now on. about the disgrace, shock and remorse we all Australians bear for the murders committed by our SAS soldiers in Afghanistan.  They murdered 39 innocent people in cold blood.  It is a huge story still unfolding.  Cold comfort for the likely wives and children, family, of the murdered Afghanistans.

The two Isis terrorists who tortured and beheaded the journalist have been arrested and are known to be the murderers.  However, to date when they appear before the court, there is no hard evidence to convict them.  It hit me how important is the rule of law even when it means that murderers cannot be convicted.  Better that 20 guilty for example are not convicted, than one innocent person is.

I was suddenly taken from the Joy of completing today's routine with Evening Prayer to a dreadful sinking feeling pervading.  I also realized that I just cannot take violence in any form or level and that I cannot watch these programs without going right down into the dumps.  Yet, I continued to watch because it really happened and to a real person.  I felt I owed it to him to at least hear out his story.  I took a break.

The above has taken me into a meditation on the Person of Jesus as human being.  "Father, forgiven them for they know not what they do".  We just do not know what even the smallest sin is in reality.  In contemplating His broken, bruised and bloodied body, I can see something only, however, of what all sin past, present and future, brings about, including mine.

Jesus did feel sin, ours and mine included, in His full humanity, He felt what sin really is.  For me, the crucifixion then becomes an exterior manifestation of an interior disposition.  


Edit - my time for edit run out again.  I can imagine some remote something of His overwhelming terror in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He knows what sin in reality is, He could feel it and it was soon to be manifest in His Body in a very real way -  and the how of it all and the journey to it very soon to unfold for Him.  He sweats drops of blood.

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it.

This is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant.

It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.

Do this in memory of Me.”

“Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is My Body which will be given up for you”

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