Welcome Friends!

A Catholic blog about faith, social issues, economics, culture, politics and poetry -- powered by Daily Mass & Rosary

If you like us, share us! Social media buttons are available at the end of each post.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Do We Do When Prayer Doesn't Seem to Help?

by Susan Fox

Sometimes we face a situation when it seems like God doesn't hear us. I know the standard advice is just to hold on and wait, that He's somehow testing us. But frankly, I have found that there are situations in which we must seek physical and mental health through ordinary means:  doctors, 
naturopaths, and mental health experts. 

This is from my friend Bill: 

I've been in this rut and I thought that maybe I should write to you and get some advice. I've had this one single, massive psychological problem that had a definite beginning in Catholic elementary school and has never fully departed from me. Now, you must remember that I am an atheist. Otherwise, I would turn to Jesus for assistance. I'm trusting that, even though you attribute your talents to God, I don't necessarily have to believe in God myself in order to benefit from your help.

Everything I've been taught as a Catholic, I still feel as part of the way I think. For example, it still seems like a demon is possessing me and affecting everything I think, do and say. I still believe in the seven deadly sins that can ruin my life, even though I don't believe in an afterlife that they would also have an impact on. I still feel like I need to be "saved", not from death and hell, but from my bad habits, which I myself am helpless to overcome.

So, here is my "problem": When I was in the eighth grade, I developed an attitude that I didn't want adults telling me what to do. In particular, I refused to do any homework assignments. At times, I couldn't even focus on writing the assignment down, let alone do it. It upset my mother and she would stand over me at the kitchen table and yell at me to just do it. My hand would tense up to the point that I couldn't hold the pencil and write. I'm getting that feeling now, 50 years later.

In school, I would be severely verbally abused and called "Baby Billy" by the nun in front of the whole class and she even made me go back and sit with the seventh grade one day and maybe longer. I forget if it was for more than just that one day. It never had the desired effect of making me do my homework. It gave me a feeling that there is something wrong with me, a feeling that has never fully departed. When I get in this rut, I tell myself that I am being Baby Billy and the sooner I break the spell, the better off I will be.

The problem went away when I got to high school and then my mother died in my sophomore year. I got through high school and college and married and had kids. Baby Billy takes over my body from time to time and he has been holding on to me longer and longer to the point that I am now collecting a disability for depression and I can't stop sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. I feel my mother's presence and am comforted that she is present even if she is yelling at me. To make matters worse, my wife has to nag me to get things done around the house. I know you probably think I shouldn't be receiving assistance from social security because I still have a few more years before I would receive it without the disability.

So. What do you think? Any advice other than praying about it. I used to go to Eucharistic Adoration for help when I believed but it didn't do any good.

Dear  Bill, 

I absolutely do not feel any disapproval about your choice to retire on disability in this situation. I understand how you feel as I have a young friend who suffers in a similar situation. 

My young friend has two points of similarity with you. As a child he couldn’t take direction. And this manifested itself as yours did – he refusal to do assignments. In addition, at the age of 9, he began resisting all efforts to get him to exercise. So now he is overweight, suffers from depression and an inability to get things done. He is a practicing Catholic and a sweet person.  But – like you -- he also says that prayer doesn’t help, meaning that he prayed and prayed to be able to change his lazy habits and he couldn’t. I think people like him end up with this despair about prayer because they have mental problems, and you can’t pray your way out of mental problems and depression. When you get to that point, you need mental help. 

Heavy Metal Poisoning: Criminals have it

Sometimes mental problems can have a physical component.  Heavy metal poisoning is one possible cause of depression and emotional problems. I had mercury poisoning, it’s called Mad Hatter’s disease because the hat makers used to paint mercury on the hats, and they’d lick the brush with mercury on it, and then become as “mad as a hatter.” It was an occupational hazard. I was treated and I don’t have it anymore, but I was very short tempered when I did have it. I had the highest level of mercury the clinic (a famous one) had known. The second highest level was one young woman – age 27. She developed full-blown bi-polar symptoms from eating a lot of swordfish in one month (she already had a lot of mercury in her body from another source). Normally, bi-polar has an onset in puberty, but hers came on in her late 20s. So they tested her for heavy metals, and sure enough she had mercury poisoning, but less than mine! They cured her of a “mental” illness by chelating her mercury. That means they used natural means, food supplements, IVs, an antibiotic related to penicillin. Apparently, they have measured the heavy metal levels in people in prison, and they are very high. So heavy metal poisoning is something to look at.  A naturopath specializing in heavy metal poisoning could help you.

Panic Attacks are Physical in Origin

I have a family member, who had panic attacks upon leaving the house. So she never did, and she tried to force her poor daughters to stay home with her when they were adults because she was afraid to stay home alone. And so the oldest had to elope and the youngest cried all through her wedding ceremony because her mother was so stressed about her leaving home. Various other members of my family have panic attacks over other things – claustrophobia, fear of heights, social anxiety disorder, arachnophobia, fear of laughing because you’ll sound bad, you name it, we got it. 
There is a physical component to panic attacks. They actually have food supplements to treat it.  My relatives and I aren’t crazy. We are all handicapped. 

Neurofeedback: Help for Depression

Researching what to do for one of my family members I came across http://www.aboutneurofeedback.com

My naturopath recommended it. It’s an alternative to drugs for conditions like depression. Now I have fibromyalgia, and they treat that with anti-depressants. But I refused that treatment, and got over it with physical therapy. I remember sitting in the fibromyalgia doctor’s office, and everyone in the room was hung over saying, “I’m so tired. I can’t get anything done.” They were almost asleep, and there I was bright-eyed and busy-tailed, “You should try food supplements and exercise!” 

Anti-depressants can make you sick! But if you are on them, Bill, don’t change anything based on my advice! But if you are on antidepressants or other mood enhancing drugs, please know this can cause a person to have no desire to do anything.  And a person in this condition is completely innocent.

So you could try neurofeedback and if it works – with your doctor’s permission -- you could get off anti-depressants, or other drugs they use to treat mental illness. Neurofeedback is offered at all the best medical facilities for psychiatric treatment, also at some naturopaths offices. So neurofeedback works for autism, social anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, addictions, post traumatic stress disorder, migraines and more. 

Here the Neurofeedback website says, “Why do we need a new approach to medicating the brain?" Answer: "Pills don’t usually teach you how to change your own brain. Neurofeedback does. What are the implications of teaching people to "trust" their own brain to function better while reducing the reliance on medications?"

I’m no expert in this, but from what I read of this treatment our brains can get stuck in certain patterns. Certainly, my young friend got his brain stuck in the “no more exercise” slot when he was 9 years old with catastrophic results for this health when he’s 25. It seems like people with this kind of problem don’t “listen,” but I’m sure there’s something else wrong. If your mother was angry and yelling at you she was probably like my friend’s mother. My friend’s mother was frustrated beyond belief, because her son wouldn’t exercise, and wouldn’t complete his assignments.  From the child’s point of view, the adult is a “monster.” But the child is not “normal” and the mother doesn’t realize the child needs mental help. She is ignorant.  She can’t understand why she can’t get the child to do what really needs to be done. I apologize for your mother. I’m sorry you suffered with misunderstanding of your condition. Your mother does love you otherwise she would not have tried to get you to complete your assignments. She wanted you to succeed. 

Your grade school teacher was frustrated too with your behavior, but it seems she handled it in a very immature and abusive manner. As an adult now, can’t you see she was very immature?  And you don’t have to take seriously anything she said to you in the midst of her immature behavior. That was not what God wanted at all. I mean just because she was a Catholic nun, it does not mean that she was doing what God wanted. And Bill you really learned from that situation. You learned what NOT to do. You don’t act like the nun. With me, you have always been very, very polite. Your didn’t yell at me and say, “You idiot! Why do you hold those positions?!” So there was some good that came out of that awful situation. We Catholics, we would look at your suffering, and say "Thank you God. For you have brought great good (Bill's polite behavior) out of great evil (the nun's abusive behavior)."

Spiritual Healing of Memories

So forget your mother’s yelling and remember she loved you. She was only frustrated by your behavior.  If you were Catholic, I’d suggest you go back to your memories of your mother, imagine that you are in the situation again, and ask Jesus to be present, and watch Him, and see what He does while it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. Talk to Him. Ask Him, “What am I supposed to learn from this situation?” You know even though you don’t believe in Him you could talk to him. I never ever feel like I love Jesus. I always say, “Jesus I wish I loved You.” But I know that I would not do what I do if I did not love Him, so I simply have to have faith that I do love Him based on my actions. So I am well familiar with not feeling things. The desire to know God is a decision of the will. It can be as cold as ice with no feeling. 

Neurofeedback is non-invasive. It uses software to map your brain and its reaction to certain stimulation, and then it says, “Aha! We have a problem in Sector 56!”  And so it designs a program of sound for your brain to unstick Sector 56. You watch a movie, any movie you like, neurofeedback changes the sound slightly, and over 20 sessions your brain is retrained. It’s like learning to ride a bike. You don’t forget the lesson once you are off the treatment. 

Seen a Clinical Psychologist lately?

Have you already tried the option of seeing a clinical psychologist? You know your wife is Catholic, and she’s probably registered in a parish. Most dioceses have a charitable psychiatric arm that charge you based on your income, dependents etc.  My mother and another close family member have used this outlet very cheaply. And in my mother’s case it helped immensely.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and EMDR

I was just cured from fibromyalgia by a physical therapist. He mostly just massaged my neck. But it caused me to begin jerking my feet and I felt pain leave my body through my feet and hands (this sounds weird I know). I actually ended up shaking like the Shakers and the Amish, groups that shook or jerked their shoulders while “praying.” While I shook I healed. I had this going twice a week for three months when suddenly I was in the middle of treatment, and I got horribly sick to my stomach. The pattern emerged that every time I got in the car to go to the physical therapist I got this stomach illness, and it lasted all day. Then it got worse, and I got in the car to go to a different doctor and I got violently ill to my stomach. Every doctor I saw I got ill. Finally, I came home one afternoon with the bellyache and I said to God, “Why am I sick?” And He reminded me of the moment when I was four years old and I was sitting in the back seat of the car, and my family had a car accident. Three days later, my father died.

At the time of the accident, I was looking at a comic book, and I was desperately carsick. I had motion sickness! Those are the symptoms I was experiencing when I went through this unusual and unique form of “physical therapy.” My physical therapist explained that our bodies take photographs of their symptoms during moments of high stress and that information is stored in our cells. I had emotionally worked through my father’s death, but my body had not come along. After this realization, my fibromyalgia went away. (I’d had it for 10 years. This cure was really unbelievable because I had felt like I was doomed to muscle pain the rest of my life.) My doctor said I had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from the experience of my father dying in the car accident 55 years before, and the fibromyalgia that appeared in my 50s was my body’s response! Believe me if I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t believe it either. In connection with that they recommended I see a psychiatrist specializing in EMDR –-- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s for conditions like post traumatic stress syndrome. Here’s the Wikipedia Link explaining it: EMDR 

Here’s the link to Dr. Francine Shapiro, who discovered the method for alleviating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. http://www.emdr.com

Dr Shapiro had terrible memories and she discovered that if she thought about them and then moved her eyes back and forth she could disconnect from the memory. I’m not explaining it very well, but it’s amazing to me what we can do for mental health other than take drugs and suffer unnecessarily. Look into a psychiatrist with experience in EMDR. Could you have post traumatic stress disorder?  I’m no expert, but you have outlined enough personal pain for me to think it’s possible. I know I was absolutely astounded when I found out that I could have physical symptoms of fibromyalgia because of something that happened 55 years ago!

Demonic Possession and Oppression

However, Bill, even if there is a physical cause, there could be a spiritual dimension to your depression. Demonic spirits can oppress a person. It’s one step short of possession. And they can make life miserable, very miserable. You can have thoughts that don’t originate with you, but come from an alien intelligence bent on evil, something totally other. The great saints sometimes would find themselves cussing in a manner that was not at all normal for them.  I myself have had thoughts that don’t originate with me, were very critical and judgmental against a group that I knew so little about that I was not in a position to form a judgment! But the thought came to me, and unfortunately, I assented to it, and so I had to go to confession. Now this was just one incident. I don’t have a pattern of that kind of thinking. But a person suffering from oppression or possession may suffer chronically from a pattern of evil, complaining or depressing thoughts. Every diocese now should have an exorcist, and if you request an interview at the Chancery, they will set one up. The exorcist can determine if your problem is mental/physical (of the body) or of the spirit. Most of the time they determine it is of the body and then you simply go back to the things I mentioned before. But if it is of the spirit, then they can help you. 

Even if you are not possessed, there is a spiritual component of almost every physical and mental illness. That’s why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Sick in the Catholic Church. These things help our mental health, and our physical health. 

The Healing of Families

There’s another resource I am going to recommend called “The Healing of Families: How to pray effectively for those stubborn personal and familial problems” by Fr. Yozefu-Ssemakula available at www.healingoffamilies.com

I know you don’t believe in God, and I really don’t think it’s necessary for you to believe in Him in order to take advantage of this book. That is, you can simply go through the vocal prayers  “The Healing of Families” recommends. It’s not a hypocritical thing to do. It’s perfectly okay. It’s a pretty straightforward vocal prayer, and then you can see if anything happens. My family has panic attack problems, and I discovered that came from my Finnish grandmother.  I noticed her cousins in Finland had the same kind of panic attacks as we all do. That could be some kind of familial problem caused by one of our ancestors, who maybe stole land, or feared to lose land or something like that. They sort of invited a curse or an illness into our family. The Bible talks about a blessing lasting for 1,000 generations, but a curse for only four generations. Parents have authority, and they can make decisions for children that have negative consequences. These decisions can affect future generations. I have a friend who had a dream as a child that her parents were going to kill and bury her. She remembers her father was sad about it, but her mother said it had to be done. Later in life she found out that her parents had aborted one of her siblings. She suffered physically and emotionally from this decision of which she was totally innocent.   

On my father’s side everyone is chronically constipated. My earliest memory of my grandmother is her offering me some laxative chocolate. I was cursed with that condition for 40 years, but as soon as I came home from that retreat, “The Healing of Families,” I wasn’t “cursed” with that condition any more. Try it, what could it hurt?

Eucharistic Adoration does help the Mentally Ill

Looking at your letter again, if you were a practicing Catholic, and not an atheist, I wouldn’t advise only prayer as a single solution, although Eucharistic Adoration combined with all these other avenues would be helpful. I know when they bring the Holy Eucharist into the mental hospital everyone is talking, talking, talking, but as soon as He arrives, they fall asleep. Sleep is a sign of healing. 

Saying "Pray about it" is sometimes a cope out

But just saying, "Pray about it" is not the answer. Heavens, I have a cousin, who is a Soap Opera Star. A famous actor 40 years her senior asked her to marry him. She called her mother, and asked her advice, "Should I marry him?" My husband and I and my uncle were in the background, hissing, “Tell her not to marry him!”

My aunt answered, “I don’t know, honey, why don’t you pray about it?”   That single piece of advice was a cope out.  

I’ve always found that if God wanted me to be healed, and there was a practical earthly option for getting that healing, He would lead me in that direction. That doesn’t mean He hasn’t healed me the other way as well. And Bill even though you don’t believe in Him, if you are continuing to write to me, then what you are attracted to is God, not me. 

Next time you have a bowel movement look in the toilet. That’s me. I am nothing. I am worse than nothing. But I am somebody because I have a relationship with God. I am the King’s kid. I am His Beloved. And everything good you read in the blog is from Him. The dumb stuff is from me.

God bless you. Susan


  1. But if you are on antidepressants or other mood enhancing drugs, please know this can cause a person to have no desire to do anything. And a person in this condition is completely innocent.

    Wow, Susan. Thank you for saying that. I feel like I am an evil person for being so lazy. It seems that for most of my life the choice has always been before me to decide between doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing and when the right thing required that I make an effort, I chose the other alternative by default.

    I am on three medications: Cymbalta, Wellbutrin and Resperidone. No wonder I don't feel like doing anything. What happened was, in 2009, I made my Cursillo and was riding high. My wife made hers the next month and things were great. My brother is an atheist and I used to preach to him. He convinced me to read some atheist books and I got hooked on them and probably have read about 50 of them.

    Early in this process, I visited a beautiful summer home owned by friends and got this awful feeling that I had wasted my life being religious. (I think I wasted my life anyway and religion was not the main reason but I thought it was at the time). It put me in a deep depression and I was hospitalized and given shock treatments. I didn't, and haven't to this day, tell anyone that I lost the faith that I was so full of after Cursillo.

    I've started blogging and I see that I am trying to get back at Catholicism in particular and religion in general by putting down people's faith on Catholic websites. I call myself an atheist internet troll (AIT). I've been blocked from sites like National Catholic Register and Crisis.

    Then I ran into you and thought I would practice my reason and logic to show you how wrong you are about gay marriage (which I still think you are). But I saw how intelligent you are and I knew I could get advice from you even if it wasn't necessarily all religious solutions.

  2. Well, I'm not sure I understand your point. I don't think you are evil for being lazy. I think you think you are bad for being lazy. Is it possible for those stools in the toilet to rise up and judge you? No, then neither can I.

    I myself am a recovering Catholic guiltaholic. I often try to beat myself up, but now when I get those feelings, I just offer it up. It's a suffering, but it's not real. I want to live in reality. And those feelings stem from when I was a child in Catholic grade school and I was called names repeatedly by the other children. I was very sensitive as a child. I didn't understand how much God loved me. It used to be these feelings of (oh, oh, I did something wrong) were attached to real actions I took, usually good courageous ones. But then the evil one screwed up and started giving me the feelings when I had done absolutely nothing I could associate with "Opps." I still feel it, but I know it's not related to anything at all, so what can you do but laugh at such feelings. You know Satan can seize your senses, and make you think you felt something when you didn't? Many a marriage has been destroyed by not real "feelings" but the poor person was unable to discern his way out of it. One time I was in deep peaceful prayer, and I felt like something dived into me! It scared and distracted me. Satan cannot read my thoughts or dive into my soul. I knew that, so I realized the experience was totally of the senses, and it's only purpose was to stop me from praying at that moment.

    My post was not official Catholic teaching. As a human being, I have gone to the doctor a lot. I am chronically ill. And I have formed very strong opinions against some medicine, the kind where they medicate you to suppress the symptoms instead of trying to really heal you. Hence, my suggestions were all geared to healing, not suppressing. I hope that didn't offend you.

    Are you really totally banned from NCR? I've had comments refused publication too. One time I contacted them, and they said it was an accident, and then published it. Another time, I tried sending it again, and it didn't get in, so I said, "Aha! They don't want that one." I talk to people on NCR all the time, who feel like they are going to be banned, but they let them say all kinds of things.

    Re: Atheist internet trolling. As I mentioned before I am grateful that is your apostolate. It has helped me immensely. However, I wonder if your battle is really with the Church? Or is it with certain individuals in your life, who were in the Church, and who hurt you?
    Maybe the battle is with God Himself because you feel he should have protected you from that hurt. I know I was angry at God after my father died. That is a normal part of grieving.
    God bless you. Susan Fox
    By the way, because of my illnesses, I've had months where I didn't feel like doing anything either, and guilt because I didn't. I've learned to be grateful for what little I accomplish. I'll never be superman again.

  3. I myself am a recovering Catholic "guiltaholic".

    That's a good one. I never heard that word before. I also get a kick out of you calling trolling an "apostolate". I've never looked at it that way.

    One writer, Simcha Fischer, blocked me until I emailed her and apologized. I was not just blocked on her thread but the whole NCR site. She accepted my apology and let me back on.

    No matter how hard I try to not get down on myself, I can't help but feel evil for being lazy. That's when I say that if there is no heaven for being good and no hell for being evil, then what difference does it make. So I'm evil. Big deal. Then the only thing I have to deal with are the immediate and long term consequences such as a messy and falling apart house and a nagging wife and being overweight and out of shape, etc. But then I have no self esteem.

    There have been times in my life when I have been able to just "forget" these feelings and do well. But then "Baby Billy" comes back. It's like I have multiple personalities. I want to just be "Bill". Not "Wild Bill" my cocky side or "Baby Billy" the insecure and lazy side.

    When I had faith, I went to two women in the rectory of a Church near me that holds healing services. They would anoint me and pray over me and drive away the demon that made me feel this way. But it was my believing in that demon and that he had indeed departed from me that made me feel better. Now that I don't believe that the healing sessions don't work.

    I know this is not your problem but I appreciate your listening and feedback.

  4. Dear Bill,
    I don’t see you as a “troll.” That’s kind of a yucky little image. Maybe you are sort of waiting under the bridge to see what comes by. But I see you as another man like Nicodemus, who came under the cover of darkness to seek the Light. Nicodemus was attracted, but he wasn’t sure what he would find. The darkness you come under is the childhood scars you bear, plus the horrible medical care you received when they gave you shock treatments and put you on those drugs!

    I have a friend who wanted to be a nun. She was in the convent preparing to become one, but something happened. She never told me what. But whatever happened, when she came out of the convent they gave her electric shock treatments. I wrote her obituary. You can read it here:


    Without being in the convent, Pat managed to live the life of a Virgin Bride of Christ in the world, the life of a nun. I think God used that suffering in her youth to steer her into the work that she subsequently adopted. She became a nun of the streets. It doesn’t matter who you were, if she felt God was calling her to help you, she would. She had childhood scars as well, which I don’t mention in the blog post. Her mother was a difficult person. I mention her life now to you, so you will have hope in your situation.

    I think there is another kind of darkness you out come from under, and that is the darkness of the local Catholic Church. Now I love the Catholic Church, but I hate the way the local church in America has behaved in the last 50 years. That is, I hate the seminary formation that made men who were insensitive, cold, aloof, sexually dysfunctional, and who did not passionately love the Gospel of Christ. There are numerous notable exceptions to this of course. But the local Church never gave you or me any tools for discernment, nor did they help you understand that being a Catholic is being alive in Christ, not following legalistic rules.

    If it makes you feel any better Jesus also hates the way His shepherds do NOT shepherd the sheep. It’s all through the Old Testament, all through the office of the readings, and in the Book of Revelation, Jesus warns the local church at Ephesus, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place.” He threatened to completely remove the faith from that local area. Whole local Catholic Churches have disappeared. Look at Northern Africa. The good news is that the Catholics in Ephesus did repent because it remained a strong Catholic community for hundreds of years after the Book of Revelation was written.
    This comment is too long I am publishing it in two parts. Susan Fox

  5. Bill, You absorbed the reading material your brother gave you very well. There is a “spirit” about your questions that is hard to think one’s way through. When you ask your questions, I do sit back and think, “Yeah, how do I know that Scripture is real?” And then I pray, and talk to my husband, and suddenly I think, “Wow, he is the one running on faith!” I have history and witnesses, and he has simple belief.

    In a sense – this is just a theory – it seems like when you were a Catholic you were perhaps a Catholic who understood your faith more on an intellectual level. Perhaps you were like I was as a child. You believed in a set of rules. These rules governed your life, and if you broke the rules you felt guilty. When I was a child I thought Catholic was going to Mass on Sunday and following the 10 Commandments. I totally didn’t understand that God loved me the way He does. When a human being doesn’t understand who they are in Christ they can get very hurt by the actions of the people around them.

    Now – in my theory -- you seem to be an atheist in the same mold. You believe in a set of rules, and these rules govern your life.

    You mentioned a crisis of faith when you went on a Cursillo. Can you explain that to me? A Cursillo is a retreat designed to help you get in touch with the emotional side of your Catholic faith. I went on two of them in high school. I remember being very high in the Holy Spirit for a week afterwards, but then I dropped back to earth. What happened after you went on the Cursillo that so upset you about wasting your life?
    God bless you. Susan

  6. Bill This interview with Pope Francis has generated a lot of controversy. But I read it, and he seems to be saying what I am trying to say that the Church needs to wake up and preach Christ, and what you are saying -- don't focus on the little things like contraception, abortion and homosexuality. God bless you Susan

  7. Bill, you mentioned your struggle with not doing things, but I also don't "do" things really. One might look at my life and say it is a waste. I wrote about this in "The Bon Vivant: How to live the Good Life in a Bad Economy." http://christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-bon-vivant-how-to-live-good-life-in.html
    Really, the implications for your life in this article is that maybe you won't do the chores, but just by being cheerfully present to your family, you will be living a fulfilling life. Maybe you are setting the benchmark for a non-wasted life too high. Susan Fox

  8. I felt great after Cursillo. It was when I saw the material success of other less religious friends and my failures that a change came about in the way I felt. I began to think that the reason that I have not striven for the same was due to my being religious. But now that I am not, I have not become more driven to achieve material success. However, I have read a lot of books that have made me doubt my faith and now I'm stuck with no God and no material success.

  9. Bill, I can see that you are beginning to understand that religion was not your problem, but what was it about material success that was so important to you? I mean it must have been a very powerful thing in your life in order for this one angst to lead to electric shock treatments. I really think it must be something deeper that material success represented. No one would go through the suffering you have endured in order to achieve material success.

    Also before you changed your beliefs to atheism, was there some sort of rivalry with your brother over who was right? And did you feel like you had to prove 'Catholicism." Given that your brother was an atheist was there some terrible suffering in your mutual childhood that led you both to reject the Catholic Church? Split personality disorder comes when there is terrible abuse in childhood.

    By the way your issue has never been addressed. Electric shock treatments and drugs do not heal. They simply suppress the problem. You cease to be a problem to the health care provider, so he feels successful and can wash his hands of you, but you yourself are left to suffer with the dilemma that originated the crisis. You are struggling with it still.

    I was physically down to nothing in 2010 after I had heart surgery. The best I could do in exercise was 10 minutes walking a day. That was an excellent choice as now I do Aqua Zumba, Pilates and Swim Aerobics. I am overweight as well, and the worse person in these classes. People remember me because I am the one doing a terrible job of it. They come up to me afterwards and say, "It will get better." But I have been doing it for some time now, and it just depends on what kind of day I'm having physically. After I exercise I feel terrible. Other people feel good, but hey, I figure it's better than death. What I'm trying to say is one can come back from near death and dismal unhappiness, and by taking little steps every day, one can still have a happy life. I do worry that I don't accomplish much but thanks to the fact that I am talking to you, one of the fruits of your trolling apostolate, I now am trying to thank God for everything I do accomplish -- even if it is only brushing my teeth. God bless you. Susan Fox

  10. "However, I have read a lot of books that have made me doubt my faith and now I'm stuck with no God and no material success." You are not stuck with either. God will take you back in an instant, and if you can get help for your health, you could be productive again. Bill, Jesus said that the greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy. That means the farther you feel you are from Him, the closer He comes. God bless you. Susan

  11. This Saturday I finally told my wife that I was atheist. But I softened the blow by showing her a book that I was reading entitled From Atheism to Catholicism by Kevin Vost.

    She pointed out how she gets knocked out, or whatever you call it, by the Holy Spirit at healing masses, which I don't. If that isn't proof that God exists, then what is? It's funny, one would expect that living as a Catholic would be difficult but for me it is much more difficult living as an atheist. It is particularly hard having such a devout wife. I often think of the women that I knew who were not religious and wonder what it would have been like if I had married one of them instead. I think that is my depression speaking.

  12. Dear Bill,
    I'm really glad you told your wife. She should understand how you feel. I go down in the healing services too. But Lawrence doesn't and he's still a devout Catholic. I think God respects our free will in those situations, and if you don't want to go down, you won't. There are times I told God I couldn't go down because I had a small child with me, and He didn't let me go down. However, if you have been in a good Catholic healing service, and nothing weird happened according to the people around you, that's a good sign because I know it's been in the back of your mind that there might be some kind of possession thing going on. And I've seen priests in healing services involved in an exorcism. They always told the lay people around them not to touch the possessed person (Satan likes to travel). The priest made the possessed person go up and down off the floor without touching him (while the person seemed to be unconscious) and without the person being aware of what was taking place. I asked Larry why Satan was so dumb that he'd bring a possessed person to a healing service with a priest having a charism like that. Larry said they can't help it.

    I've known two people who were possessed, and neither one of them seemed to know they were possessed. The book to read on this issue is "An Exorcist Tells His Story by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, and if you are still interested read, "An Exorcist: More Stories" also by Fr. Amorth. He was the chief exorcist in Rome. This book will help you understand that one visit to the exorcist or the "ladies in the Rectory" rarely is enough to dislodge Satan. If one is possessed, Satan has been given permission to occupy that person either by the person himself or by his parents/grandparents. If he has the right to be there, it is not easy to get him out. God respects free will, and gives authority to parents. Only the possessed person (or his parents)can remove the permission he or his parents gave for the possession. Some cases took 10-20 years of exorcism prayers before the devil was out. Remember the apostles came back from their missionary journey and asked Jesus why they couldn't get a demon out in His Name, and Jesus said, "That kind takes prayer and fasting." That book I gave you on Healing of Families is a back door way to get rid of him without fireworks. You simply remove whatever permission you or your parents gave to him to enter your family. Frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession is also a great means of exorcism. I personally wouldn't go to the ladies in the Rectory. I would only allow a priest to lay hands on me because of what is written in the book of James (If you are sick get the priests/elders to lay hands on the sick.) A lay person may lack discernment and can get possessed themselves. Then they lay hands on other people, and you are very vulnerable in that situation. A priest has holy orders. Even if he were possessed he can't hurt you by virtue of that sacrament. These two books will tell you that Rome began a training program for exorcists several years ago, and every diocese in the world is supposed to have one trained exorcist. Who he is is a secret. But if you contact the Chancery (the headquarters for the local Catholic diocese) they can make an appointment for you. A trained exorcist can determine if a person is possessed or not. The proper role of a lay person in an exorcism is to be in another room praying. It is called deliverance prayer. Lay people should not lay hands on a possessed person.

    Yes, it is your depression speaking. Your devout wife is your salvation. God bless you. Warmest regards, Susan Fox

  13. Your wife is your salvation.

    There have been many signs that what you say is true. She wants me to talk to the priest who ran the Cursillo in 2009. I really don't want to do it.

    At that Cursillo, I was very troubled about having cheated so many times. I feared that when we both got to the afterlife, she would know all there is to know and I would be in trouble. I had a private session with a deacon who assured me that, having confessed my sins, it was like I never committed them. I don't buy that, but I don't buy the whole idea of an afterlife anyway, so what difference does it make?

    I have a long story that I feel the need to tell but I can't do it right now. It has to do with what you said about my wife being my salvation. It consists of multiple small miracles and shakes my atheist faith, if there is such a thing.

  14. Bill, the deacon was telling you what the Catholic Church believes. It's true once your sins are confessed, there is no way on earth anyone will ever know them. Even God forgets them. That's why when the priest sex abuse was revealed, it was a sign that there was a lot of unconfessed sin out there. It's not new. I'm reading St. Peter Damien's Book of Gomorrah from the Middle Ages, and he is railing against clergy sexual abuse of their penitents (read young men). He further is very upset because they would have their gay relations, and then absolve each other or absolve their penitent in confession. I think the Church passed a rule that was an invalid confession after he wrote the book in the Middle Ages. Whoa. what Lucifer will put in our minds next! I got a kick out of reading the thinking of some involved in the scandal just past in the United States. They literally taught that gay relations did not violate a vow of celibacy because celibacy was a vow not to marry a woman! I've seen the same logic from the gay movement on the Bible. They actually have literature showing that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality. They do some acrobatics with the translation, and they say when the men of Sodom demanded to have those two angels, who looked like young men, they were requesting heterosexual sex with the men, not homosexual sex. Online talking with some who believed this translation, I mentioned that the context doesn't work for that translation because Lot was so upset that they wanted his male guests that he offered to give them his virgin daughters instead (also horrible). Lot clearly believed they wanted homosexual sex, and he believed that was so horrible that he offered his daughters instead.
    Second part of this post is next. Susan

  15. But I digress. here is a thing I wrote tonight when I was explaining confession to a non-Catholic, and talking about the Pope's letter. The person I was talking to was worried because the pope said he was a sinner, and she wanted him to know he was forgiven: "In the Catholic Church we are washed in the Blood of the Lamb in the Sacrament of Confession. It is like being able to talk directly to Jesus. I never see a priest in the chair across from me. I see Our Lord. We believe that once our sins are shed in the Christ's Tribunal of Mercy, then God does not remember them. Mother Angelica told the story of walking on the beach. She was very troubled by her sins. A drop of water from the ocean landed on her hand, and she heard the Lord tell her to throw that drop of water back into the ocean. She did. Then he asked her to go find that one unique drop of water in that big ocean. She couldn't. And so He told her the same is true for her sins once they are thrown into His Ocean of Mercy. You can't find them any more. I had a priest friend with a very close relationship with Christ, and he was talking to Him, and saying, "Remember when I committed such and such sin." Jesus said, "No I don't." Father got quite angry, "You are God you know everything and you don't remember that sin I committed!" And then he remembered that he had confessed it. It's not that God doesn't know. It's simply that God choses to forget. God bless God in his mercy and his saints. The pope understands that his sins are forgiven, but the world tends to think of the pope as perfect, walking on water. So for a pope to say, "Hey, I am a sinner too" is startling to the world. However, in my comment I was saying that the first pope, St. Peter, also recognized he was a sinful man. Also St. John said if we say we are without sin, then we are liars. But just because we know we are sinners doesn't mean we don't know that we have been forgiven as well. I like to call myself the sinner who has been forgiven much. And what did Jesus say when he was dining at Matthew, the tax collectors house. He heard the Pharisees saying, "This man dines with sinners and tax collectors." Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32) That is the problem with the pro-gay movement in the world today. They do not recognize they have any sin. That position gives rise to scare tactics and intimidation of Christians. But ironically, what the these beautiful Jesuits and the pope is saying that one on one, we need to see Jesus Christ in each person regardless of his views on those hot button issues of gay marriage, abortion and contraception. To be able to see Him in the enemy comes from a repentant and forgiven heart. What if the pope was like some individuals in the gay movement, who say they are without sin. Then he would be a liar. Right?" God bless you. Susan Fox

  16. Dear Bill S. Hope you are doing well and you get this message. Someone has left a message at another post. This one: http://christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-childs-right-to-mom-and-dad-why-kids.html
    They claim to be Bill S. Did you post that comment? Susan Fox

  17. Hi Susan,

    It's so great to be able to blog again. Yes, I know that didn't sound like me but that was me. Wouldn't you agree that if some gays are capable of raising foster children and they do quite well at it, that there should never be a law against them doing it? Why should they lose their freedom to do so? I don't know the splits between successfully raising children and unsuccessfully raising them, but I'm sure there is a split of some sort for heterosexual couples and another one for gay couples. As long as there's some people doing it right, then we can't have laws prohibiting everybody from doing it. I was hospitalized last week for depression. One of the people I met was a lesbian who is married and wants to have kids. There is no way I would ever want to deprive her of that opportunity, especially after having to gotten to know her. This world is very hard on homosexuals but it is changing and some people don't like to see the change. You should try hard not to be one of those people.

    When I get a chance, I would like to tell you about my hospitalization. But right now I am attending an outpatient program and I don't have much time but at least I have my iPhone back. I will tell you however that I have turned to Jesus. The rest will require more time than I presently have. Take care and God bless.

  18. Dear Bill, Glad you are back on line. I'm sorry to hear you were hospitalized for depression. God bless you, friend.
    Bill, You have to read the article. I quote the Regnerus Study that finds that children raised by gays are 4 times more likely to be raped, 10 times more likely to be "touched," more likely to identify themselves as anything but straight once they grow up. They also suffer from attachment disorder. I was dealing with a group of gay people at the time, and asked them for the name of one adult raised by gays that was happy about the situation, but they couldn't produce any. They produced a lot of bogus news stories based on the reports of gays or their young children. Instead, if you will go to http://www.dawnstefanowicz.org she has numerous stories from adults raised by gays who report the horrors of the situation. These adults are still very fearful to say what they are saying because I found spots where they had withdrawn their testimony probably due to persecution from their families or gays. Children -- while they are being raised by gays -- are not reliable sources of information. Dawn herself said she could not out her parents until they were both dead, and right up to her father's death, she was playing the part of happy daughter for the outside world. You should read her book. You'd understand their quandary better. And while from a justice point of view I'm sure it would be nice if they could raise children, the problem is that it is not nice from the child's point of view. They get abused. It is an injustice to the child. That's why the article is called "A child's right to Mom and Dad."
    Bill I was a newspaper reporter for 12 years, and I learned how to do an objective, showing both sides piece, but when the evidence is overwhelming or there is no true evidence to the contrary, then I am not afraid to take a stand. I didn't use religious sources on this one. I used secular sources. That bi-sexual raised by lesbians, Robert Lopez? His position was identical to one that might have been taken by Pope Benedict, but I didn't even look up what Pope Benedict said on the matter. I don't know what the church teaches on gay adoption except by hearsay. I didn't research that at all. God bless you. Susan Fox

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Dear Bill S., I had a suggestion. Why don't you print out my article, this one, "What Do We Do When Prayer Doesn't Seem to Help?" and leave it laying around for your wife to see. Maybe there is something in the article that might help her. You can cut off the blog's address if it comes up on the print out, so she won't know where it's from. Just a suggestion. God bless you. Susan Fox

  21. P.S. Bill, you can also remove the part that is from you. That is only let your wife see the body of the article I wrote. God bless you. Susan Fox

  22. Susan,

    Thank you for your suggestion. I haven't told you yet about my "incident". I tried to end my life by running plastic tubing from the exhaust into my car but was stopped by the police who were called by my son when I sent an email to my family saying where I could be found. Unknown to me, the tubing was forced out of the pipe by the exhaust. I finally realized it and put it back in twice until it finally stayed. But by then the police had arrived and put me on oxygen and sent me to the hospital by ambulance. I was committed to McClean, one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the world. It was like being on a cruise. Everyone was so nice and even the sickest people were entertaining in their own way. I am now going daily for outpatient counseling. I have decided to put my trust in Divine Mercy and look at Jesus as my "imaginary friend". That is all the faith I can muster up for now.

    I will say more at a later date. Right now I am working out at the Young Men 's Christian Association known as the Y. And I am going to breakfast with Linda and Stephen, my gay son. Whatever faith I muster, I will not accept the Catholic attitude toward homosexuality. It is vile and ugly. God bless.


  23. Dear Bill, I am sorry you tried to end your life, but glad you have decided to accept Jesus as your invisible friend. Divine Mercy is an excellent place to go. Jesus said, the greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My Mercy. Always best to take Jesus' Mercy now than His Justice later. The only thing the Church has said about homosexuality is that it is a disorder, but Pope Francis, you know, has said he does not judge anyone ... and if someone is trying to work out his salvation in fear and trembling, he will not judge him by his inclination or disorder. That was very reassuring to many in the gay lifestyle. And remember how Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, and told her, "Neither do I condemn thee." God bless you. Susan

  24. And remember how Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, and told her, "Neither do I condemn thee."


    Gays do not need forgiveness because they are not doing anything wrong. The Church has the problem. Not the gays.

    Thank you anyway for not being overly judgmental and for your kind words. I wish people could admit that the Church is a human institution and screws up too. It screws up every time it condemns gay marriage.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Dear Bill, Sorry I got the passage wrong in the Bible. John 8: 1-11. Jesus didn't say, I forgive you to the woman caught in adultery. Remember they brought her forward and wanted to stone her, and they wanted Jesus to make a mistake, deny the law, so they could turn him over to the authorities for blasphemy. So literally Jesus needed to condemn the woman and call for her stoning if He wanted to live. But what did he say? "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." That's the answer to your dilemma about your son -- "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." That is essentially what Pope Francis has been saying. So what happened? Jesus returned to writing in the dirt. And one by one they all slunk away beginning with the eldest. That is none of them were without sin. Finally Jesus was alone with the woman, and Jesus said, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one Lord" So He responded, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."

    Bill, the church does say homosexuality is a disorder. I don't live an ordered life either, do you? It's part of the human condition. Adultery is a disorder also. We don't promote adultery, but we are all the same. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. No one can. The Holy Spirit is the Author of Order. Not weak human beings. God bless you. Susan

  28. I was reading Matthew chapter five today, and I thought of you: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice; for they shall have their fill." That's you to the T, Bill, and the Catholic Church believes that too. God bless you. Susan

  29. Susan,

    Even the kindest Catholics like yourself will say that homosexuals are sinners but then again we are all sinners. That's a start, but it doesn't go far enough. The homosexuals who harmed their kids, physically, psychologically or both, sinned by doing what they did to them. There are screwed up heterosexuals that do just as bad or worse things to their kids. Of my two sons, I would have to say that the gay one comes closer to being a saint than the straight one. I would go to either one's wedding and love either one's children as my grandchildren.

    I simply must ignore Church teachings on this matter. Having said that, I am enjoying a renewed friendship with Jesus, my "imaginary friend". In my mind I told him that I don't believe he really exists but can look at him as that. In my mind he laughed and said "OK Bill, whatever blows wind up your skirt". That is something a co-worker used to say and I think of Marylyn Monroe on the subway grate when I hear it.

    The thing is that I believe that, if God truly is what we think he is, he understands our unbelief and does not get angry at us for having it. Jesus did not berate Thomas for doubting the others. That's the way I like to think he will be to me if he is real.

  30. Actually, Bill, you are mistaken. Neither Jesus, nor I, nor the Catholic Church said homosexuals are sinners. The Church said it is a disorder. In order for it to be a sin, you would have to be a practicing Christian, have full knowledge of what you are doing, and know it is a wrong against God and your fellow man, and you would have to act in absolute freedom. Researchers have found that most homosexuals are sexually abused as children. That takes away your freedom big time. Could it be they are not sinning? That's why the Pope said he didn't judge someone in that lifestyle. You can't judge from the outside. God bless you.Susan

  31. Bill S said: "The thing is that I believe that, if God truly is what we think he is, he understands our unbelief and does not get angry at us for having it. Jesus did not berate Thomas for doubting the others. That's the way I like to think he will be to me if he is real."

    I agree with you 100 percent Bill. Susan Fox