Catholic But Mentally Ill

I’m honored to know Anthony Schefter, the author of this piece. He lived in Seattle for a while and went to my parish.

The thing about mental illness is that it is illness.  Like all illness, it does not constitute a judgment from God or a declaration of moral turpitude.  To be mentally ill is to struggle with a cross, not to invite advice and catcalls and improving advice from tongue cluckers and Job’s Comforters.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre was mentally ill and would have been indistinguishable from many of the people in our homeless population today.  He was also a saint.  You get to be a saint, not by being a Shiny Happy Person, but by offering whatever you’ve got–including a malfunctioning brain if that’s your lot–to God.

  • Michael Sharkey

    Thank you for this post! My wife suffers from a mental illness and I am in awe of her courage bearing this cross. Please keep praying for those who have this illness and their families. God Bless You

  • EBS

    That was a really beautiful post Mark. It’s a topic close to my heart as I have struggled with Depression at various stages in my life. Its very hard because it is so misunderstood, even within families, and is really hard on all that are close to the mentally Ill person. God help you and bless you Michael in helping your beautiful wife carry her cross. It’s hard, but never forget God is there with you.

  • Theresa

    Thank you for this article. My mother and 3 family members suffer from mental illness. I get so upset when people immediately attribute it to the devil. It is most disturbing.

  • MK

    This post was gorgeous and brought a tear to my eye. God bless and keep all those who suffer from mental illness and their caretakers.

  • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

    “The thing about mental illness is that it is illness. Like all illness, it does not constitute a judgment from God or a declaration of moral turpitude. To be mentally ill is to struggle with a cross, not to invite advice and catcalls and improving advice from tongue cluckers and Job’s Comforters.”

    A hearty amen! Christians in the US have by and large done a terrible job at recognizing this. All too often, mental illness is “linked to sin in a person’s life” or some such nonsense….

  • Pancho

    Is there anybody who can recommend a good book on St. Benedict Joseph Labre?

  • http://stevenadunn.wordpress.com Steven Dunn

    As someone that struggles with depression, I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a cross, but God will work good out of it in the fullness of time. I’d still prefer to get rid of that particular cross, though. :)

  • trespinos

    I need to add my thanks for this post, too. My brother’s fifty-five years of mental illness have pushed him to experience many of the sufferings Mr. Schefter has, but, sadly, none of the consolation, since he has abandoned his Catholic faith in favor of a belief system that’s entirely his own invention. He cannot see that a religion you invent is no true religion at all. Mr. Schefter is truly blessed.

  • antigon

    Profoundly moving, & not least profoundly joyful.

  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy
  • Francis

    I had episodes, bizarre encounters and delivered through prayer to our Mother Mary. The psychiatrist diagnosed me as ” schizophrenic” in fact as ” paranoid schizophrenic”. All this in about 45 to an hour examination – labelled.Instruction to swallow half a pill of ” respiridone” (i think, i stopped after sometime and thats because a Catholic friend told me to stop). There are still strange out of the world happenings, i wrote them on my fb acc – chess games with a machine, the Japan quake, dreams, etc etc. If interested, assess for yourselves – i have nothing to hide ( my fb acc : francisjulian2001@gmail.com (password: psalms373839). I trust people. God bless.


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