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.