Tag Archives: Catholic

A Prayer for Mental Illness

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Although sometimes we feel we lack everything. Sometimes we cannot see what you have given us through the lie of what has been taken away. Show us how to see your blessing. Show us how to see your provision when the world teaches us an economy of fear and scarcity.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

Refresh us, Lord. Let the raging waters be quiet. Let dry pastures be watered. Let us lie down and rest without fear.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

We so often turn from your path—believing lies about ourselves, about others, about you; taking on burdens that are not ours to bear; struggling to entrust you with ourselves, our family, our friends, and our circumstances. Guide us along your path of trust and contentment.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

The valley of depression, the valley of medication, the valley of sorrow, the valley of pain and abandonment, the valley of past wrongs done to me, the valley of despair, the valley of derision, the valley of fear, the valley of waiting, the valley of misunderstanding.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of the valley in which you walk, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

Although we sometimes feel abandoned, you have not left us alone. You have not left us alone with our depression, with our sorrow, our pain, our illness, our despair, our fear, our waiting. You have not left us alone with the past wrongs that have been done to us, with the derision and misunderstanding of others. You have not left us alone. You are with us.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

With your rod, you protect us from ourselves. With your staff, you protect us from the harm of others. Your truth comforts us, as we find our identity wholly and firmly locked up in you.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Although we are surrounded by people who do not understand the weight we bear, the struggles we face, we gather to eat at your table. Although we suffer ignorant comments, laughter, and sometimes shame—we are worthy to eat at your table. We can eat our fill—even feast—because you have not despised us. You have made us welcome.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

You have made us worthy. You have made us chosen. You accept us with all our flaws, with all our illness and frailty, with all our failings. You have anointed us, us, to serve with you—our cup overflows with joy.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

Surely goodness and love will follow us. Surely goodness and love will chase us down—despite ourselves, despite others, despite our circumstances—goodness and love, by the power and grace of your Spirit, have found us. And will never let us go.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Forever. In health, in strength, in love, in mercy. Forever. Amen.

The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

And as we rest in that assurance, we pray for those who live without it, and who live with the pain and stigma of mental illness. We ask that you would watch over those who live on the street, without the medication they so desperately need. We pray that you would hold accountable those systems that have let these precious children of yours down, that have left them destitute. We pray for those who are in positions of power—that, as they make policies and work to improve existing structures of care, they would faithfully and carefully consider the welfare of those who struggle with mental illness. We pray that you would prevent us from putting distance between ourselves and those struggling with mental illness. That you would grow in us the love we need to take action, and to make their struggle our own.

Comfort those who live with the darkness of depression. May we be a light in the darkness for them. Teach us to avoid false cheerfulness, and instead give us wisdom to know how to help our friends and family who struggle in this way to come up for air. To see, again, your goodness. Lord, watch over those who are, even now, contemplating suicide. Stop their hands. Send someone to intervene.

Guard our tongues from unthinking and unkind words that contribute to feelings of worthlessness. Empower us to use our words, instead, to speak for those who cannot. To proclaim your worth over those our culture denigrates. To defend the powerless, and stop others from contributing to the stigma that mental illness so often carries.

Bring the comfort only you can bring to those who have lost a loved one to mental illness. And use us to bring comfort. May we, your church, be a healing presence, a safe community, a strong advocate for the mentally ill.

Thank you for the assurance that you do not let go. That you are always with us. May we in turn extend that hope to every person we encounter.

Amen.

(From: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/07/a-prayer-for-mental-health/#ixzz3ANBEgX9S)

Co-Creating My Life with God

So several years ago I was dealing with the end of a short and somewhat tumultuous marriage. We were both miserable, some crazy stuff happened that I’m not entirely proud of, and we got a divorce.

I had been mourning the end of it for quite some time before it actually happened so when it did I felt pretty prepared for it. Crying was minimal, soul-searching at the maximum, and I settled into a kind of strange peace about the whole situation. I felt like I was doing the right thing after being stuck in the wrong thing for years.

But I live in The South, and divorce is still kind of one of those things people aren’t used to happening yet, particularly to young twenty-somethings who seem to have it all going for them. I really wanted things to work out so I could have the life I always dreamed I would, but it was definitely not happening and if I wanted any chance at happiness then stuff had to change.

That’s hard to explain to someone on the outside of the situation, t0 random acquaintances in my life who assumed that this was literally the worst thing that ever happened to me (it wasn’t) or that I was going through some kind of mental breakdown (already happened) about it and that I needed to hear comforting words.

Often those words came out as, “Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.” And it took a lot for me to just smile and say thank you, because that’s what my momma taught me to do. These words were not comforting to me and I had come to that conclusion long before the divorce happened.

Now, let me say that these words ARE in fact comforting to a large majority of people. At one point in my life they were comforting to me. But my views have changed, my ideas about why things happen in my life have changed, and my relationship with God has changed.

See, we are created in God’s image. I believe that Christ dwells within us, that inside all of us is some element of the divine. (Whether you call it Christ or not is up to you, that’s what I choose to name it.) It is natural for us to want to create order out of chaos, as God did at the beginning, so when our lives spiral out of control or things happen we can’t make sense of, we believe that God must know because we don’t. And, well, that’s true, BUT–we have choices, too. We are given free will, and I believe that because of that we are co-creators of our lives. To deny that is to deny our own redemption, our own divinity that lies somewhere in our souls next to our humanity.

This is why I’ll never be a Calvinist, y’all.

I don’t believe that my life has been completely planned out from the moment of my conception. I do believe that there’s an intended direction for my life, towards the Kingdom, but God and I develop that together. We co-create my life, and when I make choices that lead me in a direction away from its intended one, God pulls me back in.

I think about the story of Joseph, how his brothers threw him in a well and basically left him there to die, then decided that instead of killing him they would make a buck by selling him into slavery. Years later after he is reunited with them (and an entire people is saved from famine because of the position Joseph earned while in captivity), he says to his brothers, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.” (Genesis 50:20)

I interpret this scripture to say that God took a bad situation and made something good out of it. And God still does that, He still takes crazy bad situations and redeems them. He takes chaos and turns it toward the Kingdom.

But God doesn’t create those bad situations, we do. And we do it by our choices. You know, the ones that take us a step away from God rather than a step closer. I made some not awesome choices that led me into a bad situation but God took it and redeemed it and here I am today, a functioning well-rounded young lady in a happy healthy relationship and lots of great things on the horizon. Did those things that came before it “happen for a reason?” Sure, but that phrase implies uncertainty, it denies my own role in creation, and … I don’t like it.

The way I see it, I was blessed with the free will to choose God. And I do; I try to live my life the way Christ taught me to, the way it was modeled for me in radical love and compassion. Together God and I write the story of my life (sometimes God has to forcibly take the pen from my hand), but together I believe we are writing a beautiful story. It’s full of my own bad choices and crappy things happening because of the bad choices of other people, but it’s also full of love and beauty and redemption.

But my story isn’t a book unto itself; no, my story is mixed with countless other stories in a giant book that God and other people are writing in, too. We’re all co-creators with God, writing the story of God’s Kingdom.

I love this portion of the Catholic church’s catechism that talks about human beings as co-creators:

306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it.168 God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings.169 They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.170

308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”171 Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.”172 Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace. (from here.)

Own your role as co-creator. Live into your own divinity. Everything happens for a reason—BUT, it’s up to you and God to come up with that reason, and may it take you one step closer to the Kingdom of God. Amen.

(P.S. I highly recommend googling “creation stained glass window” because there are some truly gorgeous ones out there.)

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Thoughts for Thursday

We have some strange thought that God has predestined everything, that God has willed everything like it is. God’s will is in process, and you’re in the process with God. God works with us, and God works for us.

-Michael Pfleger, U.S. Catholic, July 1992

Colbert Roasts His Holiness

“As an observant Catholic, I believe the Pope is infallible, but he’s also wrong about a lot of things.” You can always count on Stephen Colbert to come to any event with the jokes.  Much like, “being Catholic is like being in the Admiral’s Club of Christianity: Membership has its privileges, but if even atheists can be redeemed, what’s next, Lutherans?  It’s madness.”  He added that the actions of Pope Francis “forces (him) to ask the eternal question: Is the Pope Catholic? And if not, where are bears going to the bathroom?”  He always says the right thing at the right time and his most recent right time was on Thursday at the Al Smith Dinner, an annual event for Catholic charities in New York.

Don’t worry about the Pope though.  Even the man who is “proud to be America’s most famous Catholic” didn’t focus solely on the Pope, he also had some things to say about Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew M. CuomoChristine C. QuinnRaymond W. Kelly, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan who is apparently a good friend of his.  He was quick to add to his self-proclaimed fame that “I’m sure the Cardinal is thinking, Stephen, pride is a sin. Well Cardinal, so is envy, so we’re even.”  He went on to say about Dolan almost becoming Pope that “he blew it in the swimsuit competition. I would have gone with the one-piece.” Dolan also got up and ensured the crowd that he was enjoying the jokes by saying that the mark of a good night is one that ends in laughter.  He added that “a sense of humor comes from faith, a faith that everything is in God’s providential hands, a faith that frees us up to laugh.”  And I guess being the kind of person who loves sacrilegious humor, I completely agree!

The Lasting Effects of the Pope’s Resignation

Mitre_cm09_1Will Pope Benedict’s decision to resign change the way the Cardinals choose Pope’s in the future? This article thinks so, what do you think?  How does the role of the Pope differ from the Archbishop of CanterburyHere is a video on how to become Pope and here is an article on how to become ABoC.