Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Father, the person with the mental illness that sits in the back of Church smells bad

Every Catholic parish has people in it who are battling and living with mental illness.  I have a person at one of my parishes who is that way.  This person spiraled into some form of mental illness when her mother died, long before I arrived to the parish.  She has no family and no one else to turn to, and it is likely that she had some kind of serious breakdown when she lost her mother who was also her last true friend.

She says inappropriate things to people at times as she moves from one place to the next around town.  She's been thrown out of McDonald's and the hospital and so forth.  She can certainly be a nuisance, but with some firm love, and repeating instructions to her over and over, she understands that she's not to be up and talking with people while she's at Church, nor is she to greet people at the door.

We've done some pretty awesome stuff at the parish to help her out, and it has been pretty amazing to see a lot of parishioners pitch in to help.  She was going to be evicted from her home, but we were able to stave that off by going over and cleaning out her house which had years of trash in it.  We were able to get her into government housing, and she's doing a lot better.

So yesterday a parishioner came to me and said "Father, some parishioners have told me to tell you that ________ still smells bad at Mass"

And here's the point of all this: my response: "Tell those parishioners to invite her out to dinner"

Mental illnesses are certainly assisted by counseling and medication, but I'm convinced that a lot of the struggles out there that people have with mental illness would be cured, or at least greatly improved by love.  By people inviting others out to a meal, by visiting them, by talking to them.  "Hey _______, how are you?"  Those kinds of simple things.

If you take _______ out to dinner, will she say something inappropriate?  Maybe.  But every show and movie you watch says something inappropriate too.  Who cares that she might say something inappropriate?

We need a lot more people caring for each other, and a lot less people who see other people who are struggling and just call the cops, the government, or tell their priest to do something about it.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.  He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’  Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  

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