Spirituality and religion

Joey Garcia

I’ve accomplished a lot of healing through psychotherapy. Now, my mental and physical health are in decline again because of problems with my partner. I would call what is going on between us abusive. Yet friends tell me that I’m a spiritually enlightened person. How can I unite more fully with my divine purpose and calling?

Imagine your calling or purpose as ordinary, not as something exceptional and luminous or beyond whatever you are engaged in. At this moment, answering your question aligns with my calling and fulfills my purpose. So did my activities earlier today: writing in my journal while sitting outside, playing with my dog, welcoming five plumbers into my home to undertake scheduled repairs, showering, writing a love note to a friend, noshing on a healthy breakfast. Each action reflects a reason I have for being on the planet: to experience life in a body, to savor, to sense, to receive and to give back.

If I believe that my purpose or calling must be more heroic, I might be in danger of ego inflation. This doesn’t mean I should avoid ambition. It doesn’t mean I ought to keep my goals small and manageable. A healthy ego can enjoy audacious goals. To nurture ego health, nourish your soul through silence, solitude and time in nature. The soul comes alive in simple pleasures.

One life purpose to consider is choosing freedom from violent relationships. You can become a beacon for how to leave abusive relationships behind forever. A competent psychologist can help you navigate that path. Give yourself the gift of receiving professional support.

I have valid spiritual gifts according to a Catholic priest who is my spiritual director. In my home parish, my spiritual gifts were acknowledged and appreciated, but I was also judged, harassed and condemned. Now someone is attempting to ostracize and silence me. Is Catholicism an untenable path?

I’m not an expert on Catholicism, but will say that some individuals who were judged, harassed, condemned and scapegoated during their lifetimes were later canonized as saints. I’m not saying that you will be canonized or that suffering is required—not at all.

Rather, it’s helpful to remember that mystics, saints and martyrs frighten religious institutions. An individual’s intimacy with God is threatening to any religion because it challenges the status quo. The point of a religious institution is to remain unchanged, thereby proving the eternal, enlightened and divine nature of its founder(s).

It’s worth noting that some researchers say there’s a thin line between mental health and certain religious behaviors. Daily Mass can be a habit that grounds a person in faith. Attending daily Mass can also activate compulsive traits that do more harm than good. Religious ecstasy is an altered state of consciousness that includes visions and emotional euphoria. Religious ecstasy is also a symptom of several psychiatric and neurological disorders. If mental health is an issue in your life, you might not see the problems that your spiritual gifts evoke in yourself or others. If your spiritual director is unable to guide you through these difficulties, find another who can.

Meditation of the week
“We are all given a gift of existence and of being sentient beings and I think true happiness lies in love and compassion,” said actor Adam Pascal. Where does your happiness reside?

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