Why Even Faithful Catholics Suffer From Mental Illness

spider web and dew


spider web and dewAlthough most respectable members of our parishes try to look healthy and content in public, mental illness is as common and invisible among the faithful as it is in secular circles. I would wager that mental health issues are especially prevalent among the devout who are serious about their inner life; when people tackle deep inner issues which prevent God from working in their lives, their inner equilibrium is upset by stress, anxiety and depression. This probably explains why most saints experienced profound periods of depression when they finally looked beneath their pious actions to face the reality of their own ingrained sin and subsequent need for inner purification.

If the topic of how and why Catholics experience mental illness seems completely irrelevant to you, consider this meme posted on my fridge for years:

One in four people suffer from mental illness.

Think of three friends.

If they all seem fine,

Looks like you’re the one.

I often doubled over laughing after a guest to our house read this “joke” then looked uncomfortable afterwards. Mental illness is still a secret taboo to be hidden from friends and co-workers. Those who suffer are reluctant to reveal their struggles.

Mental Illness Is Not a Sign of  a Weak Character

Most make an appointment every year with their G.P. to check out their physical health and reluctantly arrange for a dental check up but why don’t people also undergo a routine mental health check up? Some people might laugh off the implication there is anything wrong with how their brains function. Others might nervously skim the rest of this article, fearing to admit they have problems. However, this question is far from ridiculous. Have you taken a good look around lately? What do you see and hear?

Modern society is stressful; people are anxious about the economy and job security. They have problems sleeping; many self-medicate with alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to help ‘take the edge off’. More and more sick days are the result of depression and other mental health issues. However, it never enters most people’s minds to seek professional help until they are in a crisis because there still is a stigma attached to mental illness.

It is especially important for Catholics to understand the causes of mental illness, instead of judging those who suffer as lazy or at fault for some reason or other. It is even worse when believers deny their own need for help. When people cannot understand these unseen illnesses, they simply fall back on age-old admonishments,

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Just do it.

He needs a kick in the pants.

What’s wrong with you, anyway?

You seem fine to me!

No one actually believes people are to blame if they need eyeglasses to read or insulin to fight diabetes but they still heap abuse on people with depression or anxiety as if these diseases were signs of a weak character or a lack of faith. Triggers for mental illness can be as simple as increased stress or a lack of sleep to a more serious reaction to a traumatic event such as war or abuse, anything which throws off the chemical balance in the brain. Some people just need medication to balance their serotonin levels to heal mental illness just like some people need insulin.

The Sins of Our Ancestors Can Also Trigger Mental Illness

(Fr. Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, has written an excellent explanation for how our ancestors affect us. See The Sins of Our Ancestors)

Babies do not simply inherit physical characteristics from their ancestor but personalities and even blessings and curses which have been passed down through the generations. Although my children came from the heart of God, with a Divine spark in their souls, they are human beings with faults, weaknesses and even sin inherited from their ancestors.

Numbers 14:18 ‘The Lord  . . . will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’

This is not simply an Old Testament teaching. With the help of a spiritual director, I have discovered generational curses deep in my soul, hidden from me till  I began the inner journey.

Romans 5:12  Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”.293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

When we grow closer to God and His light pierces deep into our being, generational sin is revealed in our core self. I discovered my paternal, grandmother had been pressing in on me, asking for prayer my entire life but it wasn’t until the light of Christ brought the issue to light that I began to experience mental anguish. I learned my pregnant grandmother died accidentally under extreme duress as a young mother while still in her twenties. Unfortunately, her husband was at war. This incident occurred in the 1940’s. She was denied a Christian burial in the Catholic Church and my father’s family left the Catholic Church when the war was over.

My own process of purification would have been even more confusing and even frightening than it was if I didn’t have an experienced spiritual director to show me how to confess and release each sin and oppressive spirit I had inherited from my grandmother to Christ:

Galatians 3:13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

James 5:16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Romans 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Even with guidance, the stress I experienced as I dealt with these inherited inner roots was barely tolerable.

Unresolved Grief

Another relatively unknown cause of depression is unresolved grief. After two years of interceding for my grandmother’s soul in purgatory, I unknowingly still grieved for her death. Then a priest, the official exorcist of my diocese was led by God to give my grandmother absolution in the name of the Church because he sensed God telling him my grandmother’s soul was present in the room with us.  After my grandmother and I both received absolution, I was finally able to let her go. I knew that her soul flew joyfully into the arms of Christ. I was set free as well and felt depression lift.

Unresolved grief is a new concept in mental health circles. Secular doctors are beginning to realize it is the root cause of many emotional problems.  In Catholic terminology, unresolved grief occurs when we cling to those who have died, refusing to surrender their souls to God or embrace our new relationship to them in the Mystical Body of Christ. Unresolved grief also haunts those who have had an abortion or suffered a miscarriage. Sometimes a miscarriage can even affect the remaining children in a family, even if they are unaware of the miscarriage at the time.

A friend, Catholic psychiatrist facilitates a group of faith-filled men and women who are learning how to grieve and release their forgotten ancestors to God, as well as miscarried and aborted souls in their family background. The change in these people, some who have been in therapy for decades, is miraculous. Unresolved grief was at the root of their mental illness.

 Even ‘Normal’ Catholics Need therapy

It took years before I understood the spiritual and emotional weight I carried was blocking me from receiving God’s love. Yet, this spiritual block was not the result of my own sin or failings.What I felt was my deceased grandmother’s guilt, shame and sense of unforgiven sin in my own emotions. At times I identified with her feelings, thinking incorrectly that they were part of my own identity. It sounds bizarre but, unfortunately, my experience is common.

Tragically, few Catholics discover the root of their spiritual malaise because often it means seeking psychological help. We all have psychological impairments, generational cycles, selfish habits, pride, controlling and other errant behaviors. God offers His children the means to become free from sin, bad habits and mental illness through the Church, prayer, confession but also through therapy. Let’s bring mental illness out of the shadows of shame and into the Light of Christ.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

56 thoughts on “Why Even Faithful Catholics Suffer From Mental Illness”

  1. a very interesting book, the myth of mental illness, says it best. we all suffer from emotional and mental dysharmonies in this fallen world. Jesus didn’t hand out anti-depressants or blame the parents/grandparents, etc, instead, he cast out demons. the old testament is full of mistakes, which Jesus came to correct (or as he said, fulfill), which is why he didn’t pick up a rock every time a liberal was discovered adulterating. Sins aren’t passed on, energy and inherited patterns of perception and body characteristics are passed on. We do not inherit “mental illness” because there is no such thing as “mental illness” in the same way that there is type one diabetes or cancer. We are immortal souls temporarily housed in mortal and imperfect bodies. He sent us here to learn, to love, to do good and fight evil.

  2. Some mental illness is organic, a problem of fundamentally physical origin. Most of the rest has great possibility of being healed through growth in virtue and in the practice of the Faith. There was a great and far too little known psychology author and professor in the 20th century who wrote extensively on this subject, the saintly Father Thomas Verner Moore. He says that growth in virtue, and progress in the life of Grace will tend to effect healing of our neuroses. The life of Saint Therese of Lisieux for instance is a case study in this. I have asked priests who are experienced confessors about this, they also say this is true. It is accurate and compassionate to realize that there are a lot of people’s mental health woes that are tangled up with sins and immaturity in virtue, and because of the fundamental nature of the human person, growth in virtue and in faith is the greatest key to their mental and emotional health.

    1. Sometimes too little said leads people stray. Yes, Some mental illness is organic. It is blatantly false that growth in virtue and practice of Faith will heal this psychiatric illness. It is bad psychology.
      First Moore lived from 1877-1969 and studied psychology when it was primitive and in its infancy, research was virtually non-existent. H left his tenure of department chair of psychology in 1947ish. Few of the theories of human behavior from the early twentieth century survive scrutiny today. Most early assumptions of human behavior are discredited today. Moore ended his career establishing the first Carthusian charterhouse in the US in Suthern Vermont with a group of hermit, hence a function of his psychology. It is an important omission to note that Moore was not of our era not ever famililar with contemporary research. The first DSM Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of the American Psychiatric Society was not published until 1953 and regularly advised, So Moore assumption were based on his knowledge at the time, Not valid today.
      Let’s see will a life of virtue and faith heal these non-organic mental illnesses: Bi Polar, psychopath, sociopath, pedophile, PTSD, passive aggressive and other personality disorders, schizophrenia, multiple personality, body dysmorphias, attention deficit disorders, hyperactivity,the variety of eating disorders, autism, asperger’s, OCD,etc.
      For a complete list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mental_disorders
      No the advice of a Carthusian hermit who died in 1947 never heard of these illnesses and they cannot be healed by confession, a life of virtue and the Faith. This is the realm of professional psychological and psychiatric help. This help may lead to healing and then open a person to a life of virtue and Faith as a consequence. Virtue and Faith do not heal obsessions and pathologies. Your advice is misplaced, based on omitted information and leads good people astray. It is a function of narcissism and needs to be re-visited. Other than the first sentence, errors and omissions abound in each sentence. Very bad advise……I would agree that Moore was saintly, as are most Carthusians, by you can not rely on his very dated education in psychology. That would be like relying on Fr. Benedict Groeschol, CFR of EWTN fame as the the programs psychologists who claimed in the final years that clergy abuse was a function of children seducing priests. Faith and virtue does not treat mental illness….

    2. Melanie Jean Juneau

      Adam, all your points are interesting and seem based on facts but you seem to belittle Eliz even though she did not say NON- organic mental illnesses could be healed by a growth in virtue. Though Moore is outdated, his views still might offer help to SOME people who are in distress by opening their inner selves to the healing Love of God.

      Mutual respect usually opens the door to constructive conversations, conversations where everyone can learn and even perhaps realize errors in their thinking. When people feel attacked, they usually retaliate and close their minds to any new knowledge.

    3. “Most of the rest has great possibility of being healed through growth in virtue and in the practice of the Faith”

      Ugh, no. There is a psychiatrist, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty of UC-Irvine, who appears periodically on Catholic Answers Live. He specifically rejects the notion that Catholics have any magical inoculation against mental illness. Mental illness is a medical condition, and modern medical treatment through psychiatry, medications and psychotherapy are God’s gifts to us for its treatment and healing. That’s just common sense.

    4. Melanie Jean Juneau

      Agreed. Catholics do not have a magical inoculation against mental illness; the whole point of this article was to encourage people of faith to seek professional help for mental illness. However, SOME people might experience peace and even a degree of healing when they “practice virtue” IF it opens their hearts up to the presence of God, to the love of God. Spirituality and professional help go hand in hand.

  3. It is not true that mental illness is caused by what others in our family did. We inherit the curse of original sin, but it is simply not true that we are born to suffer the punishments of others. I can’t believe I just read this.

    1. ” Catholic dogma doesn’t teach paying for the sins of others”

      Get real, the CC teaches that we are paying for the sins of Adam and Eve.

    2. Yeah, I clearly said we are paying for original sin. Do you know how to read?

      But we do not pay for the sins of our parents, etc. Inheriting genes is not ‘leading’ anyone into sin. Someone is not going to get a mental illness because his father was a bad person. That is not dogmatic. It is anti Christian.

      The author is mistaken.

    3. Melanie Jean Juneau

      Since we are all connected in the Body of Christ, all our sins affect each other. In a stronger sense, the sins of your father can affect you personally.

      Since my words do not carry much validity with you, I quote Robert Stackpole, STD, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy.

      … it is also true to say that the sins of our ancestors — right back to our first parents, Adam and Eve — do affect our lives today and leave us inheriting some pretty heavy baggage to carry around. First of all, there is the inherited “wound” of original sin that is passed down to all of us from the Fall of Adam and Eve. They were the fountainhead of the whole human race, and when they turned their backs on God, they cut off themselves, and their whole progeny, from the life-giving, original gift of the Holy Spirit. They initiated a deprivation of spiritual life that left us all inheriting a human condition in which we are subject to suffering and death, disordered desires, weakened will power, and the clouding of the mind from the truth about God (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404-405). God does not hold us all “morally responsible” for the Fall of Adam, of course, but He did create us as an interdependent race so that we can suffer both spiritually and bodily from the sins of others. We may think this unfair, but remember that the interdependence of the human race is also the source of most of our highest blessings, for example, the solidarity and intimacy of family life and the communion of love and grace in which we participate as members of the Body of Christ. To make such supreme blessings possible to creatures with free will like us, the Lord also had to permit us to misuse that freedom and interdependence, with all its tragic results.

      This “interdependence” of the human race also means that the sins of ancestors and parents can affect us in other, more subtle ways (and this is surely the truth behind the Lord’s saying in Exodus 20:5 that He “visits the sins” of the parents on their children to the third and fourth generation). For example, some destructive conditions (such as alcoholism, depression, and irascibility) can be passed down to us in our genetic inheritance. Moreover, the problems of our immediate parents and grandparents can be passed down to us in other ways, too, such as if they set a bad moral example for us of giving in to those destructive, inherited dispositions (as, sadly, people tend to do from generation to generation), or if they abused our bodies or failed to give us the love we needed when we are growing up. In such instances, we can become “saddled” with emotional and developmental scars. For instance, if we weren’t given the love we needed as children, we may spend our lives struggling to learn how to love others and ourselves. This does not make them fully “responsible” for our sins and all our problems today, of course, and we have the responsibility to take action to find healing for these generational wounds ourselves. But, in this sense, healing for the past is certainly an aspect of the Church’s ministry of healing prayer today.

      As for the question of what we can do to heal past generations of their sins and can we make atonement for them, the answer is yes. If they are in purgatory, we can offer prayers, Masses, and other works of piety and love on their behalf to speed their process of purification. In fact, one of the charisms of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception is to offer their lives for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. This is why they have an Association of Marian Helpers, a spiritual benefit society that embraces this same charism to pray for the deceased.

      Jesus Christ merited on the cross the forgiveness and sanctification of the whole world, but when people fail to fully receive that gift from Him, through repentance and faith — i.e., if their contrition for sin and love for God was “half-hearted” in this life — then they remain in partial moral debt to God (still owing, in theological jargon, “the temporal punishment for sin”). So by the grace and merits of Christ we can obtain further graces of contrition for them, and help relieve that moral debt. If this is what the offering of “Family Tree” Masses and “Generational” Masses means in Ireland today, then I see nothing but good in it. It is just another way of praying for the dead. But if people think that they are thereby magically warding off the evil effects on their lives of the sins of their ancestors (effects such as I have described above), or “paying” for their ancestors’ sins in ritual ways so that God will not make them “pay” for their ancestors’ sins in real life, then I am afraid they are afflicted by superstition and a false view of God’s justice. He does not force anyone to pay for the sins of anyone else, and in most cases, the ill effects of the evils of past generations on us today are best dealt with by Christian counseling and healing prayer.

      Thus, the mercy of God can both pardon and heal the sinful hearts of our faithful departed ancestors, and heal us of the ill effects of any of their sins that we suffer from today. That is definitely part of what our Lord meant when He said to St. Faustina: “My Mercy is greater than your sins, and those of the entire world” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1485).

    4. ” Catholic dogma doesn’t teach paying for the sins of others,”
      ” We are all fallen, we all have original sin.”

      I must have been confused when you spoke from both sides of your mouth.
      Be that as it may, genes make us susceptible to all kinds of things and science
      is not yet finished integrating the cause and effect in this new branch of biology.

    5. You don’t inherit punishment from the sins of your family. Original sin was the ultimate event. We were cursed then. That is it. We’re all dying because of that. Not based on the sins of our relatives.

      “Susceptible” is not the same thing as “causes”. And none of it, regardless, is dogmatic.

      You read and interpret what you want. But everything you’re referencing is not only unproven science, but it isn’t Catholic.

      Mental illness is not a curse. It is a cross to bear, an illness. If you go down that road we create an inequality in dignity. It’s evil.

      So you know.

    6. Ok, so I was heavily influenced by all them nuns telling us Adam and Eve were our first parents.. Then realized much later it was an allegory esp since the church said evolution was more likely. Then, being righteously enlightened by Eastern Deism I figured out that reincarnation could explain a lot of things like deja vous, purgatory and … curses, although I prefer karma myself. Let’s face it Mike, any of us could be right and or in the ball park. I would hope you could handle either/ or.

    7. There are only truth and lies. Jesus was not a relativist. And his truth he entrusted with His Church. The Catholic Church. Nowhere else, including the ‘enlightening’ Eastern Deism. We inherited original sin from Adam and Eve, and the price of that is death. But we get ill for more reasons than we’ve just fallen. Catholic dogma does not teach mental illness as a punishment. We have illnesses to help us, help others, reveal God, etc. If we believe in the other, then why confess sin? Why be forgiven? Why not just say you’re innocent and your parents are to blame?

      Most people who opine on these things are neither mentally ill or Catholic. Your nuns may have taught you that Adam and Eve were the first parents, but If they were good Catholics they certainly didn’t tell you we suffer because of the sins of our parents.

      Quit the Eastern Deism. That is rubbish.

    8. Because you can’t build dogma around a fable. At some point a concrete reason
      must be inserted the way steel rods are set in to allow cement to bear weight. Call it .original mortality based on the fact that all organic life ceases. The only reason,
      – the first cause of your mortality – is that two people had sex. What was passed on down to you in genes is every disease of mind and body that you may be prone and privy to – that’s a body thing. What experiences you will have on your life path are potentially soul enhancing lessons that one needs to learn in order to grow and contribute to a spiritually greater good. Don’t be a hypocrite, Mike, if this life is good enough to bring children into knowing all the implications, and eschewing the sin of presumption that the soul that comes with this body may not attain heaven, then coming back again is no biggie. I’m done with you on this thread, friend. So. peace.

    9. I’m done with you too, because you’re anti Christian and cannot understand what dogma is, what faith is, and can’t understand the limits of your own belief system. You are a lost soul and basically a troll. I can’t talk with someone that ignorant and insincere.

    10. Mike, the field of behavioral epigenetics is exploring the idea that some prior-generations experiences “leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA” that may be passed on to future generations, including instances of mental illness, tendencies toward violence and all manner of addictive behavior. Although the field is still in its early stages, there is a growing sense that both abusive and nurturing experiences in prior generations may have some element of biological effects on subsequent generations:


      In this sense, inheritance from earlier generations may lead to certain kinds of tendencies and behaviors. There is even some thought that homosexuality and lesbianism may have some origin through epigenetic mechanisms, in this case through environmental factors in early childhood development:


      although the conclusions of these studies are still somewhat controversial.

      If violent tendencies, some forms of addiction, and homosexuality do indeed have some form of correlation to biological mechanisms, that does not, however, lead to the conclusion that, since some people are “born that way,” that the resultant tendencies or behaviors are necessarily licit or moral. In fact, we all may “inherit” some form of tendency or behavior from our ancestors that we are called to overcome, not to succumb to.

    11. You’ve missed the point. Obviously we may inherit tendencies. But the idea that mental illness is a curse of sin is not dogmatic. Suffering happens for all reasons, not merely because of the sins of a parent or other close relative.

    12. Melanie Jean Juneau

      Over the last thirty years, there have been many debates about the validity of family tree masses to heal the effects of sin and curses passed down through the family tree. One of the best explanations can be found in an article by a priest on patheos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/07/how-can-you-heal-your-family-tree.html

      When I wrote about this very same experience from the perspective of the need for Catholics to pray for souls in purgatory, the comments were all supportive. Yet when I explained exactly How my grandmother affected me as she pressed in for prayer and how I assumed guilt for her sins, suddenly some readers are upset.

      Perhaps my word choice was not specific enough since I interchanged the words curse and sin. but. the fact remains that in my experience, in conjunction with a trained psychiatrist and a respected Roman Catholic priests, my grandmother pressed in on me from purgatory for prayer which caused spiritual, mental and emotional stress.

      Just because you have not experienced how your family tree has affected you does not mean it is not true.As the Catechism explains “It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice.”

    13. Laurence Charles Ringo

      It’s also possible that you were the victim of demonic deception,Ms.Juneau,and I say that because I cannot fathom the concept of so-called ” generational curses” , certainly not any presumed curses carried over on this side of The Cross of Christ.We all of us have experienced much pain, heartaches,and “wounding” of our souls derived from the interactions with various family members,but from my perspective in my abiding In Christ for 39 years now, The Holy Spirit has dealt with,and deals with these issues,so the…”Peace of God, which passes ALL understanding,keeps my heart and mind in Christ Jesus”…(Philippians 4:7.)—So,while I can understand mental illness as being the by-product of the Fall of Man,the idea that it’s passed on as the result of some so-called ” generational curse” isn’t Biblically sustainable,at least not from this side of The Cross. PEACE.?.

    14. Melanie Jean Juneau

      I agree with you. In my case the Holy Spirit has dealt with every issue as it arose, setting me free slowly through the power of the Cross.

      There is a insightful book, called Healing the Family Tree by psychiatrist Dr. Ken McCall which describes how he discovered that our ancestors press in on us for prayer and the amazing freedom which comes when we commit their souls to Christ

    15. Well you don’t know the teaching on purgatory, nor have you read the full bible (prots omitted books to further their beliefs) and you misunderstand Hebrews. That is the problem with Protestants…interpretation is always up for grabs.

    16. Laurence Charles Ringo

      Wow…The late Roman Catholic scholar Ludwig Ott defined purgatory as follows:” The souls of the just which, in the moment of death,are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins,enter Purgatory”–Ott,”Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”,page 482.(Since,you assume I don’t know what I’m talking about,Mike,I consulted with someone who did know.) Since

    17. You reject the seven books because Protestantism rejects purgatory and other universal beliefs. The Protestant bible is incomplete, as Jesus’ Church guided by the Holy Spirit assembled the bible, and Protestants, guided by ignorance at the very least, distorted it.

      Since you aren’t Catholic and since you rely on your own interpretation, or the interpretation of one of thousands of denominations, logic serves that your understanding of Hebrews is off.

      Jesus gave the world Truth, and it isn’t found amount the thousands of Protestant denominations. You prots trace your churches back to men: Catholics trace theirs to Jesus. The Church Jesus speaks of in the bible is the Church we have today. Catholic, which means universal, as it was meant to be.

      It,doesn’t mean people who lead the church are always good people. Scripture tells us that wicked men and trials will come and go ( as in the prot churches), but Gates of Hell will not prevail against it, and the Church’s dogma is perfect.

      Sola scriptural, faith alone, etc., are Protestant things not in the bible. Instead of posting on Catholic sites with ignorance, educate yourself. “Peace”.

  4. Yes, mental illness is real.

    But you’ve gotten some some horrible counseling. “Generational sin?” An “exorcist”?

    You’re the Editor In Chief of this site. I urge you to take this article down and have it vetted by a real mental health professional. It pains me to think that other Catholics might try to rely on this article to help solve their own mental difficulties.

    1. Melanie Jean juneau

      Everything in this article has been vetted by a qualified mental health professional, a psychiatrist, who is a devout Catholic as well.

      The main thesis of this article is that Catholics should out seek professional help from psychiatrists in conjunction with prayer and spiritual counselling. The two go hand in hand.

    2. Melanie Jean Juneau

      The Catholic psychiatrist is in good standing at his hospital, He has written articles and given talks about these views. His breakthroughs and stories of healing for major mental illnesses are one of the success stories for his hospital.

    3. And I mentioned a Catholic therapist who is “endorsed” by our bishop, and she mentions that at every possible opportunity. But she’s a loon.

      Your psychiatrist seems no different than those who want to contact the dead through tarot cards or seances. It’s bad advice.

    4. Since this MD vetted this article and its cliincal approach, I would love to have his name for two reasons: 1. Is someone’s input is attributed he should be named; 2. I would be interested in what he has written on these issues. I find no reason notto provide an authoritative name.

    5. Melanie Jean Juneau

      It is NOT the same; tarot cards and seances are from the dark side. Realizing we are one in the Mystical Body of Christ is completely different.

      Elijah and Moses had died on earth but were alive to Christ

      Luke 9:29-31:
      And as [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.
      Jesus clearly initiates the communication with the faithful departed.

      Hebrews 11-12. Chapter 11 gives us what I call the “hall of faith” wherein the lives of many of the Old Testament saints are recounted. Then, the author encourages these to whom he referred earlier as a people who were being persecuted for their faith (10:32-35), to consider that they are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” encouraging them to “run the race” of faith set before them.

      Revelation 8:3-4:

      And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

      Both the faithful on earth and our brothers and sisters in heaven are united. Believers on earth are initiating prayers which the saints and angels in heaven are receiving.

  5. I will try to be differential to some of your beliefs, yet I will take issue with some of your assertions and agree with others. I do not believe that the sins of the father are re-visited upon following generations. What does Jesus say in the only time he addressed the issue:
    John 9:1-3 “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
    I would take the word of Jesus rather than rely upon out of context OT quotes which appear cherry picked. Here is the context for the OT “sins of the fathers” stuff.
    Mental Illness or whatever word we choose is a harsh reality for many souls. It is caused by Biology (DNA) and perhaps corrupted DNA could be passed down through generations, as with schizophrenia which often skips a generation; also caused by biological factors like brain injury, infection,prenatal damage, etc. Mental Illness can be caused by psychological issues: trauma, neglect, abuse, early loss. Also by environmental factors, death, divorce, substance abuse.
    Mental illness needs treatment by a professional. It happens and is nothing to be ashamed of, although society makes people feel ashamed. I do believe in past lives and that there is work to be done to undo old karma…our job at a deep spiritual level. This I know is not Catholic fundamentalist belief, but I happen to know it is real.
    But let’s put to bed the “sins of the father” being revisited upon generations …this is not what Jesus said and His word trumps out of context OT and Pauline passage. Again Jesus was very clear in the one time he addressed the issue:

    John 9:1-3 “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

    1. Michael Giedraitis

      So are you saying God made a mistake in the passages below?

      Exodus 34:5-7 NABRE

      5 The Lord came down in a cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name, “Lord.” 6 So the Lord passed before him and proclaimed: The Lord, the Lord, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity, 7 continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation!

      Deuteronomy 5:8-10 NABRE

      8 You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; 9 you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation, 10 but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

      Numbers 14:16 NABRE

      18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in kindness, forgiving iniquity and rebellion; yet certainly not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children to the third and fourth generation for their parents’ iniquity.’

    2. Melanie Jean Juneau

      Many Bible verses seem to contradict each other, even in the New Testament; it is part of the wonder and majesty of the Word of God which man cannot simply use to promote his own agenda. I could pull out many verses to explain my own experiences,

    3. Melanie Jean Juneau

      Michael thank you for these verses; I was directintg my previous comment towards Adam

    4. Of course, He didn’t make a mistake, the Bible is a series of stories put together by a primitive nomadic people. Did God (who is Love) approve the genocide of the Canaanites, the killing of the firstborn of Egyptians, setting a warrant for bride price, rules for treatment of slaves and how to take slaves, a snake in Genesis who talks, the strictures of Leviticus. The original sin was narcissism which is rejection of the Divine Hand…..the story is that the consequence of that sin was death….we all die, period. Jesus changed things and made each responsible for themselves. The OT was never meant tp be taken literally, like the Canticle of Canticles…literal. The Jews for who the texts were written understand them better than we do….all is in context of cultural heritage….read carefully
      I really don’t care who vetted this blog post, it’s bad theology and bad psychology…

    5. Melanie Jean Juneau

      All the points you bring up are valid. The example you quote from the Gospel of John is a wonderful example of the fact that not all mental health problems can be blamed on our ancestors. Of course I agree. I mention other triggers such as serotonin levels, stress and unresolved grief as well.

    6. John 9:1-3 “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

      Someday, when the CC finally tackles the older, wiser tenants of Eastern Deism this passage
      will be put into proper perspective. Jesus, in His ultimate wisdom didn’t settle this question at
      all as it was the wrong age to expound upon the implications. He sidestepped the ? in a most sublime way. The emphasis is on the phrase ‘THIS MAN’, singular. He wasn’t about to get into
      a deeper theology at a time when loving ones neighbor and Samaritans were very far out concepts. For more Bible gospel passages that will support references to reincarnation see
      Matt 10:39 and 16:28, Mark: 8:39, 9:45 and 13:30, Luke 9:27, 12:59, 17:33 and 20:36,
      John 8:23-24, 8:51, and the VIP of them all. John 9:1-5 and 21:21.

  6. I think too that from the age of reason we suffer both consciously and unconsciously from knowledge of our own mortality. We see it in so many forms and yet the mind does not allow us to imagine our own death. Living under a death sentence affects our whole personality; its baggage an unimaginable weight carried by our corporeal self. Quite a price to pay for experienced life – that is if you live with good creature comforts to stave off and distract this coming event. Most people don’t worry about their souls, nor do they understand karma in a figurative sense. Good post, Melanie and I’ll end it with a quote. “We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.” Marcel Proust

    1. Melanie Jean Juneau

      I have never seen that quote from Proust before but it perfectly describes the process we must go through. Often a person must first face and taste their suffering and then hit bottom before they are free to chose the path to healing.

    2. Steven Barrett

      C’mon James, you need to lighten up. Take it from a guy who’s almost 65 years old, suffered from one degree of severity with manic bipolar depression, lifetime ADHD (“in spades” as one frustrated doc put it) and a bunch of other problems, on top of fulfilling my duties as a husband and father of four adult children, and soon to be two grandchildren . . . life’s not always a beach, but it doesn’t have to be the other kind of B full of all it’s “baggage,” etc. To me, “Karma” is half the name of an old VW sports car of the Sixties. I do live with what I have to live with on top of the knowledge of knowing any day I could be sitting in a nursing home and drooling into a pan after suffering my “Strike Three” version of what they call a “TIA mini stroke,” (two of which I had within a three year span.) Recently I lost my oldest brother after a long and painful illness . . . and sometimes life just seems like a proverbial ball n’ chain.
      It’s not unless we choose to take on all that “baggage.” But why since Jesus already chose to do so when He took up His cross representing all our sins for our behalf. True, we didn’t deserve such love. That’s because it’s un-merited and unconditional. It’s real love all around. So why write in a tone that suggests we haven’t suffered enough? I’m willing to believe you never intended to lay on yet another guilt trip. That’s how it came across.
      It’s bad enough Catholics have to endure every damn week in some parish that stale staple of “modern” or ” contemporary hymns” written and composed by some of the most tone-deaf “composers” . . . but my break with the Church came on an Easter Sunday (of all days) when it appeared for all eyes n’ ears to literally accept the fact that beauty was being officially replaced by mandatory mediocrity. It was well-more than enough to depress this writer who was so angered by this imposition of mush during the primary 10 a.m. Easter Sunday Mass that I had to walk out lest I screamed out my utter disgust with the tragic toll all this “God hears the cry of the poor” nonsense has taken out on Catholic faithful.
      Never mind all the mind-numbing theological mumbo-jumbo over transubstantiation, consubstantiation, blah blah blah, one of these days I’m hoping to hear some justification for the watering down of our liturgy, our music and even our homilies to the most common denominator. I want to know why I was so distracted thus driven to walking out of the Church on Easter a few years ago. This is one damn burden no Christian should ever face on what should be the most joyous Sunday in any parish.

    3. You are one powerful writer, Steve. i kinda lost you for awhile there but then again you
      dragged me back through a quarter century career dealing with depressed, angry and
      all around unhealthy souls who had more behaviors and traumas than you could exhibit
      in a lifetime. And, I don’t know why you were so distracted to be driven out of church either but perhaps it has something to do with your opening complaints. So, what this guy who’s older, with as many kids, more g-kids and living with a disability from some f *** up conflict in SE Asia is going to do is leave you with a sagacious quote etched into an I Corp bunker – ” There is no gravity the earth sucks “

    4. Steven Barrett

      “Sagacious” … ? At least the Marine who etched the line you call “sagacious” did so under I imagine a hell of a lot more trying circumstances than what you’re facing now. You’re doing a great job of being your own worst enemy. I cited recent and past challenges only to show how people can overcome the circumstances they find themselves in from time to time.
      Certainly not every problem or challenge can be met successfully all the time but at least give yourself a fighting chance by taking the effort to mentally adjust your attitude. You start with prayers, and they they don’t help, ask somebody near and dear to you. In other words, take ownership of your own life and you’ll be far more pleasantly surprised at how fast your attitude in life will change for the better. Whatever it takes to turn your life around on God’s terms. If it requires simple counselling minus having to take medicines, great. If it takes a combination of both, great. Ideally, it takes God, solid counselling and meds to do the trick.
      In the meantime, stop this mental self-flagellation and bringing others to your emotional levels. It’s both selfish and self-defeating. My sincerest apologies if I’ve come across as being too tough, perhaps overly judgmental (a relatively new mortal on the list of PC mortal sins in our age of supreme moral relativism) but I honestly think a far more realistically positive approach needs to be seen and attempted.
      I know it’s hard; damn, damn, damn hard. But we all have to do it because we live among others and it’s not our rightful role to bring others to levels we wouldn’t ever want or tolerate others to bring ourselves down to. I sincerely wish you well James, but you’ve got to take bigger steps forward by paying attention to those who want to see your life turn around and never be afraid to pick up that Bible or any other literature written by trusted Catholic and other leading Christian lights. Kill the television, listen to relaxing classical Church music if need be (Palestrina always lifts me up) and have a handy email address or telephone number on hand to call if need be. If you’re married, love your wife like you’ve never loved her before by spoiling the daylights out of her and this doesn’t cost a dime, but more time in front of the sink and behind a vacuum cleaner sure won’t hurt and will do much to help lift spirits all around your home. Walk the dog, build something for your kids or grandchildren. In other words, be as selfless as you can if you think you can’t … just look at a Crucifix and ask yourself if anything I’ve suggested or other steps similar in mind you can think of to cause you to emotionally, mentally and physically stretch your comfort zone to include and improve the comfort zones of others … just think of Jesus, already beaten, whipped and full of bruises, sore bones and having to wear a cross of deep ,thick and long thorns … then having to reach down and pick up that heavy oak cross-beam to begin his march up that hill where he’ll be “entreated” to lay down on that same oak beam full of splinters, lay out his arms and legs for the ultimate punishing phase of his death which He freely gave on our behalf I rarely if ever describe the Crucifixion (esp. in religious forums like this) because ideally nobody should have to. Jesus’ Passion should have been branded on our hearts from the time we were kids before giving our First Confession and receiving our First Communion.
      As a woodcrafting artist specializing in Christian….mostly Nativity related artwork …. I became over the years shocked and sadly amazed at how few Christians today, even Catholics, handle any depiction of the Passion. But later when I began to see how we became much like our (mostly Evangelical) Protestant separated brethren in the horrifyingly iconoclastic wake of Vatican II, all the quesiness and willies expectedly shown by Evangelicals when they see a Crucifix, began to appear on Catholic faces as well.
      When we lose sight of what Jesus did for all mankind on Good Friday, attending funerals, wakes and dealing with so much of what plagues mankind begins to take on a more emotionally thus mentally manageable place in our hearts and minds.
      Problems begin for Christians in particular, when we choose to whitewash the stain of Jesus’ Sacred Blood from our consciences. Yes, Easter is the most joyous day in our calendar and rightfully so just as the Passover is for Jews. But woe to both of all of us if we lose sight of what it cost the Jews in Egypt for centuries prior to Moses liberation of the Jews from day to day actual bondage and Jesus’ liberation of all mankind through His sacrifice on that Cross. So it really helps to have God’s only Son on that plain cross to remind us that our liberation from Satan’s most insidious spiritual, mental/physical and emotional forms of pulling us away from the Great Healer and our liberation from the weight we place on our hearts and minds because of all the things we dread most having to do or endure.
      LOL, the “gorier” the art in Catholic and even some (mostly German, English and Dutch churches/cathedrals) all the better. At least that way nobody can honestly say they “were not exposed to the Bible during Church.”
      Our Crucifixes are teachers, and pointers to Whom we can trust in our daily struggles with sin and mental illness. We must never be too proud to accept the counsel of wise doctors and human physicians, psychiatrists and psychotherapists for they have received their gifts of healing from the minds and hearts God blessed them with, Christian or not. But as Christians, let’s also never forget the example Jesus already shared at a great price. You have my sincerest wishes and prayers for you, and your family James.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign Up for the Catholic Stand Newsletter!

%d bloggers like this: