Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Holiness and Mental Illness

From Vultus Christi:
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is reported to have said that the Crown of Thorns is the emblem of all who suffer from depression, anxiety, or any form of mental illness. Mother Teresa’s observation gives a particular relevance to today’s feast. One hears of saints who suffered from all sorts of physical maladies. Rarely does one hear of saints who suffered mental illness, but they do exist and probably in a much greater number than one would think. The classic reference is, of course, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre who has been variously diagnosed as a social misfit, an eccentric, and even a schizophrenic, but there are many others. I think of the hypersensitive Saint Thérèse who, in her childhood, suffered from “nerves” and, in her final illness, struggled against the temptation to despair. I think of her father, Saint Louis Martin, who was committed to the Bon Sauveur asylum for the mentally ill in Caen, and of her sister Léonie who, after enduring abuse from a family servant, was emotionally fragile all her life. Mental and emotional illness are not an impediment to holiness. (Read more.)

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