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Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality


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Just in case anyone reading has not caught up with previous advice.


I am on retreat from today, 22nd July and the Feast of St Mary Magdalene until 22nd August and the Feast of The Queenship of Mary.  The Home Mass to renew and receive Private Vows is on Solemnity of The Assumption, Friday 15th August 2014 at 5pm.  During the retreat period, this computer will largely be off and other than transferring the Prayer Requests from the Prayer Forum to the thread I initiated in OpenMic "Prayer Req Forum Props", I wont be posting into Phatmass.


I hope to catch up with my Carmelite nun pals on Monday 4th August if the long term forecast is accurate.  Yet to receive advice re General Confession date prior to the Home Mass.  These two events will happen prior to the Mass, I just don't know as yet precisely and for sure when.


I will catch up with any posts into this thread after 22nd August.  Oramus, thank you for the post - will respond after 22nd August.


Keep praying for me please - I really need prayer although the see-sawing of my emotional self (which wasn't extreme, thankfully)seems to have quietened down and I am quite calm and peaceful - just ordinary everyday me.......... and hope to retain this disposition as the days unfold.  If not, then may The Lord's Will be done ................ and 'one can only every play the cards one is dealt' to put theology into the colloquial.  :)


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Home Mass a resounding success in every way.  I loved the beautiful simplicity of the Mass on my coffee table and the celebration after was full of joy and exuberant.  More later after the Feast of The Queenship of Mary next Friday.  Giving thanks till then.


Thank you for your prayers - they were answered even more than I had dared to imagine.

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Retreat finished last night.  Will come back at some point and begin posting on the Mass itself and celebration after. 

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Our Home Mass began at 5pm.  15 attended with 8 of us Catholic and receiving Holy Communion.  It was the ideal number for my unit, and any more would have been a quite tight fit.  Two were OCD Carmelite nuns and both were great pals of mine and one a mentor, sometimes adviser and close friend for over 30 years.  Father said Mass on my coffee table (his preference) and we were seated in a circle around him.  I had prepared responses for The Mass and also a booklet document "What are Private Vows?" (comprised of quotes from Vatican documents - including pre V2 -  and two other very reliable sources).  These two documents were multiple copied and placed on all the chairs. The booklet gave me many headaches until I could work out how to print it in booklet form - oh many headaches indeed!  I really loved the gentle simplicity of The Mass on my coffee table on which were two small statues of Our Lady and St Joseph, two small candles and two very small vases of fresh flowers.


I spent half a day with my Carmelite close friend, pal and mentor, as above, on Monday 11th August.  My doctor and parish priest were unable to attend The Mass, but both sent me lovely emails.


My vows were renewed between the Intercessions (which I had written as Fr John requested) and The Offertory.  My tears flowed as I renewed my vows to the evangelical counsels.  I was overcome with deep gratitude and that it was really happening and a sense of unworthiness that was very real and lodged in my bones as it were.  As the days have passed since the Mass, I am still overcome by the seriousness of what I have done and again, in my bones, a sense of very real responsibility and accountability.  Many thoughts flowed through my mind during my 'retreat' a month prior to the Home Mass and for the week after, giving thanks.  About all I did really was abandon in the main Catholic Discussion sites, although I did periodically check in to Phatmass just to read in the hope that I would not have a lot to read once the retreat was concluded.  I was totally unable to pray in my usual way during the retreat, but many thoughts indeed flowed through my mind including a backwards look at my journey to date...........and much thanksgiving to have arrived at where I was then at - prior to The Mass.  I had great plans beforehand for the retreat but they did not eventuate, and I was able to accept this, in the main at least, quite spiritually peaceful since it was Faith in the will that informed me that The Lord was indeed very much in charge - not me.  I was able to thank Him for being so, even if His Plans were not at all mine.  Hence, my will rejoiced if my feelings would not!  Mine most often has been a journey of Faith in the will with my feelings far distant from any sort of Peace or Joy especially during my very ill years.  My Carmelite nun pal told me when I visited that "St Teresa would like that"........(St Teresa maintained Carmel was a journey of Faith and now I understand in a newer and deeper manner).........and St Teresa is good enough for me absolutely!  I read too today actually, that the Cure of Ars was hounded by a deep depression hidden from others all his life.  His was induced by a fear of failure.  Mine will have to be a subject of a discussion with my doctor and spiritual director.  Fr John will be overseas until November.  Any really deep depression I feel hidden from others just might be related to bipolar.  It is hidden because I am able to function quite normally in every way including to experience joy when joy is appropriate in the circumstances.  Laughter when that is appropriate.  I had never planned ever to live alone - it has just unfolded that way.  I found religious living by very far easier in religious life since everything was planned and unfolded around religious living.  Out here in secular life and alone, I find the trekking very difficult at times.  Religious life has its own unique problems as does any way of life, any vocation whatsoever, including in secular life.  And if one is inclined to think that at least in secular life one can distract oneself in some way.  Not necessarily so at all and an illusion to think that it is so! :)

I was am also quite overcome that what had been hidden from all in the main in my way of life was now 'out the closet' and me with it.  Perhaps all these types of awareness's and feelings are quite normal.  I think that the intellectual knowledge that they are quite normal is a vastly different matter to really feeling it in one's very bones, to the depths of one's being.


The celebration after was full of joy and exuberant, even a bit boisterous at times, as celebrations can and even should be ideally.  I received quite a few gifts of fresh flowers in addition to what I had purchased myself.  My brother took pictures and I will be making an album of all documents with pictures, including a copy of my Rule of Life - still in the process of being polished without changing the essence.


I have concluded that private vows can be regarded as being received (if they are 'formally' received) on behalf of The Church since it was the Archbishop who had given his permission for the Home Mass for vow renewal to take place and this permission was a requirement.  I have also concluded that private vows can be regarded as private worship of The Church.  After all, it is the baptised who comprise The Church, and since private vows fall under the virtue of religion, they must be an act of private worship of The Church, while public vows in the consecrated life is public worship.  But I am yet to check out my reasoning with a Canon Lawyer, or whomever may be able to inform me as to what The Church has to state.


This week since The Mass, I have been really drained as the 'retreat' was a bit of a struggle and not at all as I had anticipated (ahhh expectations!!!) but I was able to find spiritual Peace in the knowledge that I would be granted what I needed rather than what I desired and the knowledge that the two can be totally different.


I am still very drained.  I was really looking forward to after The Mass when things would return to normal - but they have not.  I am much too aware of the seriousness of what I have done in renewing life vows during The Mass.  I have a new awareness of vocation and call and as a serious matter involving responsibility and accountability.  I also have a new sense of urgency and this is a really new experience for me and since The Mass.  I was unprepared for what I experienced during the retreat and after to today - not so much the subject of these experiences, as to depth and intenseness, even urgency, for which I would feel them.


I know that a few questions were addressed to me just prior to me going on retreat.  I have retained these posts and will get around to answering these questions and as a commitment.  Please be patient with me as I struggle for life to return to some sort of normality, however that normality is to unfold.


Thank you so much again for prayer.  It was prayer that has brought me to this point and largely the prayer of others for me and for Bethany as a way of life.


God bless...........Barb

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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PS  After writing the above and posting, I re-read the post and as I did, I experienced a marked lift into a more positive type of emotional content and a sense of Joy at being able to write again and express myself.  I will be discussing this with Fr John after he returns from overseas in November.  The experience may be telling me something, or it might be a simple consequence of feeling that I am in touch with others after what was really, to be quite honest, quite a strain indeed of the retreat.  I will be discussing it with my doctor too.  I am seeing her on 2nd September coming just to ensure that I am still sane.  The opinion of Public Mental Health, when I was in that system and my doctor in the system too, that if I attempted to do anything formal in the way of my Catholicism and private or public vows, I would trigger an episode of bipolar and they were very much against any such attempt.  And of course, for the poor patient involved or for me rather, I tended to take their advice fearful as I always am of bipolar episodes.


When my doctor transferred to private practise she asked me to come with her.  I did.  When I spoke to her about a possible Home Mass to receive the renewal of my vows (she had known me by then for many years and as my private psychiatrist) she made no objections whatsoever.  I don't think either of us expected The Archbishop to agree, known as it is that I have suffered quite serious bipolar episodes.  It is truly amazing to me that he did agree.  He is certainly aware that I have suffered quite serious bipolar episodes.  His comment to our Vicar General was "this is a good way to go".  He is very conservative and since his induction he has never consecrated a virgin nor hermit under Canon 603.  I very much doubt that he has the time available for formation (and/or no vocations to same), insofar as he is concerned, since he had been President of the Aust Conference of Catholic Bishops and also quite heavily involved in the recent scandals in The Church as all our bishops here in Australia have been I am sure.  His statement re the Home Mass for renewing private vows echoes the statement of our previous Archbishop, now retired, when I first decided against any sort of canonical approach to His Grace, and opted for life private vows. His Grace wrote to me on diocesan letterhead giving me his blessing and stating that I had chosen very wisely.


Incidentally, I was advised by a Jesuit theologian to approach His Grace re making a public canonical vow of Chastity.  I do not know for sure if this is even possible and have never looked into it as I had decided against it.  I would think that a Jesuit theologian should know what he is advising, although none of us are infallible.   Initially, taking up the Jesuit advice, I did apply to His Grace for a canonical vow of Chastity, but after much prayer the thought and the knowledge then that a serious bipolar episode could occur and was likely at any point, I decided against it and withdrew my application advising His Grace of my decision and why.  I rang our Vocations Director (nun) and told her I wanted to withdraw my application and she asked me why.  I replied that I did not want The Church to be responsible for me.  Her reply verbatim "God love you, dear".

I would draw attention to the following, which was made before our relatively newly revised Canon Law and by a much and highly respected theologian who had been responsible for our 'new' Catholic

Catechism Post V2.


"But as the Church developed, there appeared three types of Christian perfection which have not only survived to the present day but will continue until the end of time. In general, they are, first, the strictly monastic. It may be heremetical, but that is rare; there are very few hermits in the Roman Catholic Church. The monastic form has many variants. The cloistered communities would qualify under that general rubric. Second, apostolic communities, where they engage in some kind of apostolic work which carries their efforts, even if not the persons, outside of their own community life. And third, secular institutes.


There is a fourth category contemplated by the Holy See in anticipation of the new Code of Canon Law, so that something may be done for the thousands of women who seem not to want religious life yet seem to want to live especially dedicated lives in the Church. The secular institutes are a recent development of the Catholic Church. If there would be a fourth category, it would be some form of what we now call “secular institutes,” but the implications still have to be worked out.


These are the common classifications, with scores of subdivisions under each, especially in the second category. However, that classification – while surely a correct one – is based on structure; it is not based on the essential qualities of every vocation to Christian perfection. This bears emphasis. Members of secular institutes, then, are as much called to a life of Christian perfection as the most cloistered nun or monk or active religious. It is the structure of the way of life that allows for this important classification."



It is obvious that the new Code of Canon Law has come into existence but does not include that "fourth category" Father Hardon mentions.  Whether such a "fourth category" is still under consideration in Rome somewhere is unknown to my research anyway.

I have also noticed on Phatmass that some comments by members with letters after their names are not necessarily the opinions of all theologians, nor cast in stone by The Church; whereas the impression that can be given is that they are both.  Not necessarily so.

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Hi Barbara


I have read your journey (not quie all of it, but many posts) over several months and your vocational path is a fascinating one.


Can I ask some question? Not to be rude, just curious. Probably many of will never meet anyone with this rare vocation. Probably you have had to do a lot of work and reserch on your own.

1) you mentioned you are vowing the three evanglical  counsels. How would you live them in the lay state? Chastity is obviously fine. But poverty? or Obedience - to whom? and to what extent? are you vowing anything else (e.g. Benedictines vow stability, Oasis de Jesus Sacerdote vow 'vocationist' etc)?

2) Did you write your vows? was it hard? what sources did you use (if any)?

3) will you have a rule of life? what did you base it on (if anything)? how long is it? how long did it take to write?

4) what impact will having your vows recieved have on the rest of your life?

5) did you ever think to join a secular insitute or become a CV or hermit?

Finally I share with you a blog I came across when reserching the CV vocation which I think you will like. Mac McLernon is a Irish/British lady who blogs under Mulier Fortis. this lady is also privately vowed for 9 years. She was a revert and not eligible for the CV vocation if you know what i mean. and i think she was beyond the age of most convents. she made private vows in a special celebration like a wedding at mass. then every year her parish has a special mass for her, with a big  celebration afterward, and she publically renews her vows at mass . i think she even chooses the readings for the vow renewal mass and everything.  

I thought you might like these posts:

Background to her vows  http://mulier-fortis.blogspot.co.uk/2006/10/renewal-of-vows.html
Here she talks about vows being recieved: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/03/go-to-the-blog-of-mulier-fortis/

it would be very cool if maybe you could somehow collect up all of your posts about your journey and preparation, and put them on a blog so everyone can read them. it might help people who have the same calling in life.

may you be very blessed! :-)


Hi Oremus

Answering your questions :

1)  My private vow of poverty is spelt out in the Rule of Life for Bethany and the same for Obedience.

     I am not vowing to any person, rather to a Rule of Life.  The Rule for Bethany is more about a spirit for which to strive, rather than specific 'items' to be obeyed, although there are some specific items related to obedience and poverty, not a great deal.


2)  I wrote my own vows.  I did read a number of texts, but in the end the vows were my own words.  I found that the more I read, the more confusing it was to me as to the wording of my own vows.  So when I sat down to actually write the vows, it did not take me very long and it was very much what I wanted to state. 


3)  Yes, there is a Rule of Life for Bethany which is a way of life - more a spirit in which to live or strive to live rather, than specific 'items' to be obeyed, although there are some.  I submitted my Rule to Father John in a rather rough form but he approved it nonetheless, I am revising it to make it more polished without changing the essence.  It did not take me very long and I used the phrases of the Our Father as the guide.  It was really putting down in writing in a Rule form how I do strive to live and that vision for a way of life that unfolded from the beginning 30 years or more ago.

The Rule of life to my mind is not lengthy - but it is very much "how long is a piece of string" I guess!


4)  I did think that once the Mass and vows was fait accompli, I would be very happy to return to normal life.  It now turns out as I stated in a previous post, that a normal way of life is not yet fait accompli and will happen, I think, over a period of time.  I think the Home Mass and vows will have a big impact on me personally and this has already happened and there may be more to unfold.  It is still early days in post Home Mass and vow renewal.  Not only the aforementioned, Bethany was and is about secular life per se and the quest for holiness and perfection, not despite secular life but intrinsically because of it.


5) Yes, I have looked into secular institutes. I would not qualify for the vocation of CV as I was married (annulled) and have two adult sons.  I wanted to continue with Bethany as a way of life, which I felt would exclude me from the vocation of hermit under Canon 603.  Bethany certainly has aspects of some vocations in consecrated life without being specifically any one of them.


I did not want to make the vows anything 'big' in the parish generally.  Bethany has always been about being intrinsically one of and part of and especially the most abandoned and marginalised, not separate from, which personally I tend to think a big celebration would tend to effect.  But I think this is very much an individual and personal matter.  It is something to think through and pray about since private vows can be made secretly between self and The Lord up to and including the type of parish celebration you have mentioned.  There seems to be something related to my vows being witnessed as it were by fellow human beings.  I have very often said that I rejoice that The Lord will judge me not fellow human beings.  I think that our fellows can be far more demanding than The Lord who insights motivation while our other human beings do not. and very often can indeed judge and/or assess quite incorrectly going by appearances, while "The Lord knows the heart".  I am not delving into that aspect closely at least at this stage.  The Lord's Will unfolds in Peace as the most gentle of breezes most often and Peacefully I wait attentively.  I am far more settled a little more than a week after the Home Mass.  I am different somehow or other! I had not anticipated being so affected and effected by the event to that degree that I have been.  There is often a vast difference between objective thought about and subjective experience from - and this has been my experience re the Home Mass and vow renewal and I think that that subjective experience and the affect and effect is still in the unfolding stage.


At this point anyway and it may persevere I will not be writing a blog.  I have written the above quite quickly and only a little over a week after the Home Mass with more to unfold I think.  Again, that difference between objective thought about and subjective experience from - and as more time unfolds as post Home Mass, the latter two may very much differ.  At this point, I cannot know.  I hope it is not all confusing to read!



I think I have now answered the posts I needed to answer. If not, please give me a nudge. :)

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  • 1 month later...

Came across this yesterday from Pope Pius XII (Pre Vatican2) "Address of His Holiness to the Second General Congress of the States of Perfection on December 12, 1957." THE STATES OF PERFECTION

I thought it worth quoting in this thread (striving to keep all quotes in the one location) for those who have or are thinking of making private vows secretly between themselves and God alone.  To have such vows received by a priest/spiritual director takes the lay celibate vocation in a different direction to a quite secret matter and this different direction is recognized by The Church also.  It is also clear evidence that the celibate lay state under private vows is not some innovation post Vatican II.  It is also evidence that Rome is quite favourably certainly aware of the vocation to the lay celibate state and has been considering it for quite some time, many years in fact and before Vatican II was ever anticipated even.  It is felt theologically that such a vocation could be included in consecrated life somewhere similar to and in the subheading of "secular Institutes".........as per a previous quotation http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Religious_Life/Religious_Life_033.htm (search in the text for "fourth category")

Such an inclusion under the umbrella of consecrated life has not yet been included in Canon Law, which is not to state that it could never happen nor would ever happen.  Although personally, I am very happy to live out the vocation and that things remain as they are now without any sort of formal recognition on the canonical level, other than what does exist now in Canon Law under the various relevant paragraphs, mainly found under "Vows".   These do already grant the lay celibate vocation a legitimacy in Canon Law.

At one point in our history, for example, all religious had to be fully enclosed - time had to unfold and efforts made before the ability for religious sisters to be included in Canon Law without enclosure and with the ability to move and work in the community.  Secular Institutes under the umbrella of consecrated life in Canon Law are now included and take consecrated life in another direction.


Where we are now is not necessarily where The Holy Spirit will lead in the future.




The Ideal of Christian Perfection

The ideal of Christian perfection is derived from the teachings of Christ and in particular from the evangelical counsels. It is derived from the life of Christ, from His passion and death—the inexhaustible fonts in which the heroism of all Christian generations find their nourishment. It also includes the work of Christ, that is to say, the service of the Church performed out of love for Christ, in the position and according to the function that devolve upon each one in the entire Mystical Body.

Every Christian is called upon to strive to attain this ideal of perfection with all his strength, but it is fulfilled in a more complete and certain way in the three states of perfection according to the manner described in Canon Law and in the aforementioned Apostolic Constitutions. In particular the Constitution <Provida Mater> of February 2, 1947, on "Secular Institutes" gives access to states of perfection to the greatest possible number of souls who eagerly aspire today to a more perfect life. Although this Constitution states that associations which do not meet the prescribed requirements do not constitute "states of perfection," it does not claim in any way that there do not exist real tendencies to perfection outside the latter.

We are thinking at this moment of all those men and women from all walks of life who, assuming the most varied professions and functions in the modern world, out of love for God and in order to serve Him in their fellowmen, dedicate their person and all their activities to Him. They pledge themselves to the practice of the evangelical counsels by private and secret vows known only to God and let themselves be guided in matters of obedience and poverty by persons whom the Church has judged fit for this purpose and to whom she has entrusted the task of directing others in the exercise of perfection.

None of the constituting elements of Christian perfection and of a real tendency to achieve it are lacking in these men and women. They therefore really take part in it although they are not committed to any juridic or canonical state of perfection.




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  • 3 weeks later...

For those interested, you might like to follow the thread on CA relating to my previous post above - the point of private vows being "received" by a priest has been corrected in that the JCL Therese Ivers has corrected herself.  It seems that a priest cannot "receive" private vows.  The correct term is "witnessed".  More posts might follow in the CA thread from me as long as CA lets me stay.

The thread page is here http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=12438176

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  • 3 weeks later...

Coming home on the bus a week or so ago, I was pondering again what to have engraved on my commitment ring.  "Gaudem et Spes" came into my mind and wouldn't go out like one of those songs that can near on drive one bonkers as it goes round and round in the head and will not give up.


  When I got home, I looked up the meaning having forgotten it -  and discovered that it means "Joy and Hope" and is the Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World.  The opening words of the Constitution spoke to me and echoed as very meaningful to me and can be summed up in "Gaudem et Spes" and so this is what will be engraved.  Since my ring is half inch wide in sterling silver underneath that, if the engraver can effect, "Bethany - Evangelical Counsels - 15.8.14".


For many years a maxim for myself has been "Get the Gospel into the vernacular' - in other words how to live daily and to speak about Jesus and His Gospel, His Church, to very ordinary people - and related to a very ordinary everyday type of life and in preference to falling back on what is probably stereotypical type language and behaviour and to resort to what has even become thought of as merely pious platitudes of the pious and nothing more.


In the quotation box are the opening words of the Constitution - and I did eventually decide after much pondering that probably the opening paragraphs just might not fit on my ring even with the best of efforts of the best of engravers :hehe2:  :


1. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.


2. Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today.


Therefore, the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theatre of man's history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break the strangle hold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew according to God's design and reach its fulfilment.


3. Though mankind is stricken with wonder at its own discoveries and its power, it often raises anxious questions about the current trend of the world, about the place and role of man in the universe, about the meaning of its individual and collective strivings, and about the ultimate destiny of reality and of humanity. Hence, giving witness and voice to the faith of the whole people of God gathered together by Christ, this council can provide no more eloquent proof of its solidarity with, as well as its respect and love for the entire human family with which it is bound up, than by engaging with it in conversation about these various problems. The council brings to mankind light kindled from the Gospel, and puts at its disposal those saving resources which the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, receives from her Founder. For the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves to be renewed. Hence the focal point of our total presentation will be man himself, whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will.



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  • 1 month later...

I am wondering if this thread will appear on the new Phorum.............or am I there already.....no idea........oh the wonders of Phatmass!  It rather reminds me of that trust exercise that took place with some groups.  One was blindfolded and had to trust the person leading to lead safely.  Over to you, dUSt! :drunks: 
Anyway, things are progressing in a normal fashion here in Bethany after a bit of a bumpy ride there for a while with my psychiatrist  wary that I was on the edge of an episode.  It didn't happen, thankfully.  I very sadly have neighbour problems over our pets and quite unnecessarily and it erupted unexpectedly.  I am back to voluntary work on Tuesday 30th December and then I am off until late January - no voluntary work, no ironing.  My ironing clients are on holidays too.


Now then, I am wondering where this post might appear since I posted on to the previous Phatmass but it did not appear on this version - my thoughts are that I might have posted just as the changeover took place and that eliminated my post.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Had a dream last night that I founded a secular institute where the homes of members were a welcoming places to all without exception.  I can't recall any details whatsoever of the dream, only that that was the content.  I don't pay much attention to dreams and tg be a foundress fills me with unspeakable dread and horror :shocking:   Dreams most often, to my mind, come from the self somewhere. I would pay no real attention to dreams as messages from anything but the self - an interesting topic however when I see my SD next on 21st Jan. and if he said I should pay attention to the dream he would have to drag me to it screaming and kicking probably literally and probably he would have no success at all.  I have no call to be a foundress whatsoever at this point and pray ardently it will never ever happen. I am not made of that kind of 'stuffing'.  I think it would ask absolute conviction and application. Conviction I have none whatsoever and therefore application would be missing.  Conviction is God's Gift and application flows in the wake.  I certainly have this in regard to private vows to the evangelical counsels and a Gospel orientated way of life for a lay person - or my own particular vocation.  It has stood the test of time and many many difficulties, some quite severe.


Bethany always has been a place of welcome to all without exception however - and this is where I suspect it came from in the dream - yesterday too, I read that Pope Pius XII was the first to give papal recognition to secular institutes and I had never realized before that secular institutes were approved prior to Vatican II (don't know why) and where the subject of secular institutes originated in my dream.


This is why I really miss my previous suburb.  Daily into Bethany in that parish came people of all kinds and for all kinds of reasons.  Not so where I am now living.  Of course, I had lived in that parish for 30 years and at 69yrs of age, I very much doubt that I have thirty years ahead of me and very often thankfully :) - although I have days when I feel I would really miss my earthly existence and experiences of all kinds...........and days when I am glad that I am going to be called to abandon these at some point and I am longing for something I do not know what other than what imagination presents to me and shifting sands is imagination.


Today is a good day - the sun comes out now and then.  On grey and overcast day when the sun hides, my spirits drop down to my boots.  Its a fairly common experience I have heard and particularly so in sufferers of Bipolar apparently.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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I don't want anyone to think that I have lived an outstandingly good life.  I did have a Catholic home and education and whether it was bipolar that took me round many a bend and up a creek (putting things deliberately vague) can not be known.  After each bipolar episode, once it onset anyway when I was 28yrs old, the memories of what had happened and what I had done during the episode brought me tremendous grief and sorrow and a good confession - each episode brought in its wake too the knowledge that I could not understand myself other than to attribute factors (deliberately vague once more) to bipolar without any assurance whatsoever that this is actually so.  My awareness became that I had one personality during an episode and a completely contrary one when I was well. For many years, I did not know which was the real me.   Bipolar very often is episodic as in my case and between times I am regarded as well and mentally ok.


When exactly bipolar became a contributing factor in my life is unknown and may have been as early as my teens.  Serious psychotic episodes did not onset until I was 28yrs of age.


One of the burdens I carried was that a memory of what had happened during an episode may not come into consciousness until years later while other memories were immediate after the episode.  This brought much grief too and I would always confess.  Not long ago, however (I always confess that I am under private vows and suffer bipolar disorder - as instructed) a priest in confession told me to never go back into the past again.  I don't - and this has brought me much Peace........and Joy!  Since Father so instructed me, almost strangely I have had no memories return from the past other than as a passing matter i.e. the memory returns and seconds later is gone.

I was cured of scruples in Confession and this Sacrament has now twice brought me, what is to me, the miraculous since a cure has been effected instantly on very long standing spiritual problems over quite a few years.


There is no way that I nor anyone probably can know whether I have been morally culpable in the past, or whether I was under the influence of bipolar disorder.  For many years this disposition brought me endless anxiety and fear - fearful (terrified at times) that due to my memory problems and bipolar that I had committed mortal sins without a good confession and was hell destined - but no longer.  I am eternally resigned to The Lord's Mercy and so thankfully there are no words to express that gratitude other than to dwell in it silently offering it to Him. He has gifted me with a huge dose of Faith firstly and then trustful confidence in His Mercy and with His Continuing Gifts and Grace, it is in Dark Faith and His Mercy that I hope to depart this world.


Even as I wrote the above, I am conscious that while striving for honesty aware that The Lord reads 'over my shoulder', I have no idea if quite unconsciously the above is a disclaimer, abandoning my own responsibility and accountability before God - and blaming it all on bipolar.  No idea whatsoever.  It is a burden I live with and very light indeed considering The Lord and His Mercy who knows my depths -  and the problems of others in this world.   May The Lord have Mercy!  How merciful is Catholicism (rightly so!) which teaches us about God and His Love and Mercy.

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