About Me

My photo
Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, April 13, 2007

St. Dymphna's Talk Show

Here's the thing. I'm not Dr. Laura and I'm not Dr. Ruth (thank the Lord). I'm happy to answer questions about what we believe and even how we came to believe the things we believe. But an arm chair analysis of people's very real problems based on a few sentences with no history or real knowledge is a dangerous thing. I know that because I've listened to Dr. Laura speak to people she doesn't know at all. Dangerous.

Meanwhile I've been haunted by a reader's question about helping a mentally ill friend. I think the other readers have done an admirable job of helping without entering Dr. Lauraland.

What's been haunting me is the idea of praying to God to cure mental illness. It seems to me that if God actually did cure mental illness you wouldn't be able to tell.

People who have come to God do things that are really out there. Trade their clothes with beggars, become beggars, live on top of poles, stop eating, stop sleeping, develop holes in their hands and feet and heads, give up sex, live in cells, levitate, water sticks because they are told to do that, see the Virgin Mary, have visions, visit hell....some of them even homeschool their children.

St. Francis of Assisi was a wealthy boy with a bright future. He bought himself a soldier suit but it just wasn't working for him. On a whim he traded his soldier suit with a beggar. His horrified father told him to get rid of the beggar clothes immediately. Ever obedient to his father, Francis stripped naked and walked away. He eventually developed holes in his hands and feet. No one had ever done that before. He talked to animals. A cult developed around him. They called themselves "Franciscans." Weird.

St. Simon Stilites didn't feel holy enough around other people so he climbed on top of a pole and lived up there. That wasn't good enough either so he kept getting a taller pole. Eventually he lived on top of a sixty foot pillar. Ironically other people had to pass what little food he ate up to him. Most of the time he stood on one leg.

It didn't end there. A whole group of people followed Simon's lead and climbed up onto poles. One of them had two poles. I suppose he was the first person to be bi-poler.

St. Catherine of Sienna only slept three hours a day and ate only the Sacred Host. She married the Baby Jesus in a private ceremony (presided over by the Virgin Mary) and wore an invisible ring that only she could see. She died young.

St. Rita wanted to be a nun but she was too old and had been married and had children. Angels flew her over the convent wall, but that wasn't enough to win the support of the congregation inside. They stuck a stick in the ground and told her to water it everyday, making fun of her while she did so. What a cheery place that convent must have been. She had the last laugh because the stick grew into a tree. The thing is, she wasn't interested in having the last laugh. She just wanted to be a nun. She ended up with a mysterious hole in her head that smelled terrible and she had to live all by herself in a room away from everyone.

St. Teresa of Avila went into a trance, during which she was taken to hell and shown a room under some stairs that was reserved for her. Not unlike Mr. Scrooge on Christmas Eve.

....and then there are the homeschoolers......

....people who actually spend all day and all night with their children and not only have to listen to them and watch them make mess after mess, but they have to come up with a full curriculum for grades K-12 while the baby eats paste. Their motivation? Not too much different from St. Simon Stiles, as far as I can tell.

Mind boggling.


buckeyepride said...

Sister, I'd love for you to elaborate on your stance on home-schoolers.

Sister Mary Martha said...

I don't have a 'stance'. People are free to choose whatever difficult life style they want. Good for them if they can handle it. Well educated, well adjusted children, that's the goal. Now that there are no nuns left in the school system......

Anonymous said...

I've had a couple days to calm down and consider things and I've come to the realization that it isn't that I think nothing short of God can help my friend, it is that I think nothing short of God can turn his heart and get him to get help. I feel like he could improve if he would try but getting someone who is unwell to want to try to get better isn't always easy. I've tried everything I can think of to change his mind and motivate him and nothing worked. So while I started praying a novena with a vague request to 'improve things'thinking that 'curing' him was the only way, now I have begun to pray more specifically for a change of heart for him. Anyway, I'm touched by the concern and caring I've found here and I appreciate your latest post, Sister. Thank you.


cattiekit said...

Dearest Anon,

You're right. Nothing short of God can turn your friend's heart toward help.

I wish you all the best. You're a true friend to pray and do what you can to help your friend see the light.

But if all of this doesn't work out, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don't beat yourself up any more over it.

Sometimes a person just has to bottom out before he'll accept help. And this may take you letting him go there.

You have my sincerest sympathy and a place in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Sister, can you tell us who would be the patron Saint of homeschoolers and why?

Anonymous said...

SMM, are you suggesting homeschoolers should be up for sainthood, or that we are crazy?

In either case, I agree.

Anonymous said...

I laughed and laughed about the homeschoolers: have you also noticed the homeschoolers also then go and have TONS of kids? (discloser: I'm a homeschooler expecting her 6th!)

So far, it's been more fun than standing on one leg on top of a pillar (I think, I've never actually tried the pillar thing!)

Sister Mary Martha said...

I would say that St. Catherine of Sienna is the patron saint of homeschoolers. Having spent much of her youth in solitude in her own home, God told her to enter the world. A great number of people, men and women of all ages, flocked to her door:men of fashion, priests and religious, soldiers and artists, merchants, lawyers, politicians.
Like other homeschoolers she was vilified for hanging out at home with all these people, in particular all the young men, because nobody can understand why anyone wants to hang around with young men, let allow a young nun.

Fouquette Racing said...

Another GREAT post SMM!

Laura Michele said...

SMM, do you believe that God can completely heal a person of a phobia or some other mental problem. If we say no, aren't we doubting him? Can novena's and rosary's really heal or bring about a hopeless cause? DO you know any success stories. I'm discouraged.
thank you

Nicotheconqueror said...

bi-poler ha ha ha, what a laugh I had!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't checked you in a few days and was so rewarded when I did. Thanks for the wisdom and the insight on homeschooling. I've homeschooled the last four of my ten children. Recently, I blew up at my family and I declared it to be "Home School Appreciation Day." This was in response to my college children announcing that, with the exception of themselves, homeschooled children are weird. This may indeed be true, because in my experience, all children are weird, so then this would encompass the homeschooled. My children were delighted with the new holiday, and wanted to celebrate by going out to lunch. Did they get the point? But Sister, you hit the nail on the head so succintly, it can be simply what God is calling the mother to do, I also would prefer it to sitting on a pole.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that people see homeschoolers as holed up at home. My kids think kids in school are being imprisoned in the local school for 8 hours a day. They feel sorry for them not being able to get out. I keep telling them that they're doing lots of interesting things at school. They don't buy it. They know they've got freedom and the school kids are locked in one place.

Anonymous said...

As a homeschooling Mom, I'd find it far more difficult to enroll my children in a warped institution which for the most part will undermine my (the Church's) set of values. So, I suppose I am choosing the easy path.

Should I bring this to confession?