[This post is quite lengthy and, to me, painfully boring. But I think it needs to be expressed. It describes just some of the many directives, opinions and judgments that various clergy and people have meted out to me over a few years. It exemplifies how lots of people make judgments and form opinions, even people we'd think would know what they were about, but in reflection, their opinions and advice were simply like stones tossed in a game of Hopscotch. But still, people to this day cannot control their urges to make judgments and cast their opinions on that which they have no actual experience. Take whatever good you can and learn from these examples. I do. Read with a sense of humor but also with determination to curb any desire to judge, analyze and cast opinions about anyone's spiritual life.]
It is good to recognize Who Is the Judge. One time when a priest spent his five weekend homilies featuring discrediting me by name from the pulpit, much to the horror of friends but to the titillating delight of gossips, my old spiritual Father made two comments and one directive.
One comment was to meditate on St. Joan of Arc, for he said it was Catholics themselves who tossed wood on the fire. The second was to consider St. John Chrysostom whose feast day it was, as he said he was run out of town and at least I was only run out of the parish. Then he asked me this question: Who is your judge? I answered immediately, "Jesus is my judge." The directive was that I was to not step foot in that parish until the priest spoke to me and apologized. I lived right across the street, and it took him two years to speak. He never did apologize, but he had a huge skeleton in his closet of which the Lord had made me privy. When people have something ugly they are hiding, they tend not to be the types to apologize for anything because they inure themselves to thinking they do anything wrong.
Then were the rumors about me among the Catholics, from his parishioners later on, and letters to the Bishop to the point that he and his right hand man, Rev. Msgr., thought I was someone else, or that there were two people with the same name. They thought the bad one was a woman who does some rather unconventional devotions and is taken up with whatever latest sighting of some apparition or unusual event (Jesus on the cheese toastie stuff). She was an easy target for them because she also had disfigurement which lent to an appearance that fueled their confusing her with the dreadful me they had heard about from the gossips. Actually, the other woman is a sweet soul, even if she gets a bit taken away by sensational theories and sightings.
My identity got straightened out when a yet another priest in another parish admitted to the bishop how it was I knew he had a very big problem. It was but two weeks prior that my dad came to me during Mass and told me I needed to straighten out the bishop's and Rev. Msgr.'s (rather humorous) confusion as to who was the real me.
As for spiritual direction, I've had all kinds of directives. The first priest ordered me to "stop praying." No fooling. Of course, I wept when he ordered that, and later he asked why, and I said because I cannot stop praying and ought not. He backed off that one very quickly. But to think he even thought it something to order?
He also was harsh in grilling me about my mystical experiences, even before I was confirmed, and then he'd say it is his job to be tough and harsh, as he was a "devil's advocate." Later, my only veritable spiritual father who knew me for many years, asked me why I remained in the same room with a priest who would mistreat me as he did? He said I should have had the sense to walk out and never go back. That was when he told me that Teresa of Avila says no spiritual director is better than a bad one. My response was that somehow I thought this was what I had to go through in order to be accepted as a good Catholic. I thought it some training to see if I had what it took to stick it out and that all Catholics went through such brutalizing.
Then there was a priest who told me I ought to be recollected like I was during the mystical state at Mass...all the time. What? As if you can make yourself be in a state like that, and what good would it be to have your faculties suspended and not carry out earthly tasks? Does Jesus deny us our very personalities? This one also told me that with the abuse I was receiving from some of the parishioners, that it is all right because the saints suffered. I asked if my constant pain of body from the car accident and surgery was not enough suffering? I already suffer! Why justify people being cruel by saying that is how it is for saints? I'm not a saint nor want to be, for I think they have more than enough saints in the rota. I just want to be a good Christian and to love God and others. I asked if we aren't supposed to be always improving our souls and learning from what was done wrong in history? Are we to condone sin, now, when it is right in front of a priest, his parishioners being cruel?
Then there was the Bishop. But I've already shared some of his orders. He took a year of going over each detail of the mystical state, and not by any kindly means but repeated questioning and accusing this and that, mixed with at other times assuring me that the Lord is very close to me and what a gift this is, with promises of this and that, not kept. And as I look back, I am thankful he did not keep his promises.
After I did what he ordered and fell, he felt very bad that he had ordered me to stand, thinking the state would go away or that it was somehow coming from me, even though Dr. H. had said definitely not. But the Bishop did not care what an eminent doctor, noted in his field for grasping the paranormal, had to say. But still, Bishop felt bad, afterward, and he thought he could somehow get the diocese, insurance or otherwise, to help me pay the surgery costs. Nope. But I was grateful he asked. So he told me to not make any more donations or tithes to the Church, but to consider the surgery costs as my tithe, for however long it took to make up the difference. Well, that is something like 15 years into the future, and I had tithed well over the 10% the Church recommends. So that was interesting advice that I don't think future pastors in other parishes will appreciate.
Oddly enough, I told Bishop after the initial fall, that I had kind of wondered if this was somehow coming from in me, even though Dr. H. said no, not possible. But after the Holy Spirit overcame me at the back of that chapel, so powerfully that I could not even take a step toward a pew before being laid out, slain, I knew after that this was nothing from me. With my greatest fear for years being falling and the rods in my back coming out from the vertebrae (and they are no small rods screwed in there), I knew there was no way even my deepest subconscious would allow me to fall. Oh well, not that any of it matters now, anyway.
Then there was the foreign priest who was convinced the state was from the devil. He had some prayer he wanted me to pray so many times a day at certain times, for so many days. My director at the time said no, just stick with the Divine Office and do something relaxing like go for a walk. The foreign priest was so convinced, though, and told me it had not gone away because I did not pray the prayers fervently enough. I admitted to him that not only had I not prayed his prayer fervently enough, but I had not prayed them at all because my then director had told me not to.
But I then became worried that maybe this foreign priest was right, as he insisted the devil was doing this; and I asked to be exorcised. But Rev. Msgr. said there was no indication of any demonic in me. The Bishop agreed. I told him what this other priest said, though, as it made sense to me in a twisted way, as the devil loves to get us confused and upset. But Rev. Msgr. said no, and pointed out how ridiculous the notions of the other priest, and asked who it was. Not long after, that priest was transferred. But later on, Rev. Msgr. had himself turned negative toward the situation and me. I noticed the shift occurred when the Bishop told him he was directing me now, and not Rev. Msgr. We are all human, after all, aren't we?
When the Bishop thought I should be teaching at the Cathedral, religious ed, and to tell Rev. Msgr. that he said so, Rev. Msgr. told me I'd never be doing anything at the Cathedral because of my state during Mass. He later said many nasty things, putting me down, whereas earlier he was very supportive and encouraging, although he, too, had put me through the wringer with questions and making it very difficult for me, when all this happening to me was personally difficult beyond what anyone could imagine!
But always, there was God, and the bliss--all but the times when there was something foul in the Mass in any aspect. I called them "bad trips", for it could be someone at the altar or some soul in the vicinity, and one time it was the Lord bringing two souls to my view--souls in serious trouble who were not even in the same city. I was to suffer greatly for these souls, and maybe it is kind of like how we are told the suffering is in purgatory. For I had the bliss of Mass, and then there would be the intrusion of something awful in contrast, and it seemed all the worse due to the intrusion into the bliss. (Some say that purgatory is partly so painful because we are intensely aware of heaven and glory, yet we are not able to be there yet.)
Anyway, some parishioners had decided I was crazy. Others decided I had narcolepsy. One contacted my Protestant cousin with whom she works, and told her I was over-medicated. I had never told my cousin about the state during Mass; I had not told my children for several months, and no one else knew. Rev. Msgr. had ordered me to not discuss it with anyone, and suggested a lie if asked. So I did end up telling my cousin, for she called and said I was to meet her and tell her just what in the world is going on. She knew I was not medicated with anything but Aleve, and this other was horrible gossip in her view, and more of the same stuff she thought about Catholics to begin with.
Then there was the other Msgr. who talked about me with a parishioner, both of them bad-mouthing and saying how they each have the same thing happen, but they are discreet and "do it" in private in the rectory, and her home, respectively. They did this in the sacristy after Mass, and I overheard. I froze, listening to some of the nasty lies, such as that the woman said she saw the Host drop out of my mouth and then saw me reach down and pick it up. What? I cannot move a muscle when the faculties are suspended. The woman proceeded to say that she hates being in Mass when I am there. She was one who would make the crazy sign and point at me when I'd walk in. Honestly.... This monsignor agreed with the woman. I confronted him about it, and he said he had to so as not to have her think he was not supportive of her feelings. However, he was saying nasty things, as well.
Another priest told me I could not come to his parish. I have mentioned this, but I did not give his list of five reasons as to why I will never fit in and why the other priests are threatened by me. He said I am: 1) too intelligent 2) too well read 3) too different 4) outspoken in truth 5) a mystic. He added that all these things are wonderful, and God made me like this and it is a gift, but that it makes people afraid and thus not to come to his parish for they would crucify me and there would be nothing he could do about it. He also asked me how I knew things that others did not perceive. Mercy! (I had already told him that I am shown things by God. It just happens and always has. It is a cross, or so it seems, as a Catholic. And perhaps now, the solitude is His saving grace for me, literally. Praise Him!)
A priest several years ago, prior to the state occurring, said his parishioners were afraid of me. I asked why, for there is nothing about me that is scary that I or my family or friends can see. He said it was because I was holy. Oh, my. I'm as much a sinner as anyone else. In fact, I am being quite honest in my sharing, and it likely goes against what is the "norm" or the "approved" among Catholics who have decided mystics are a certain way if valid, and if not, are hysterics or frauds. I have no desire to be anything but truthful, and if the Lord has some kind of standard for how a mystic is to be, then He will judge me one way or another.
But I've had so many different opinions and judgments by this or that priest or person (and more than I can begin to write about or this would be wretchedly long), but you get the idea of what it is like. Oh, some parishioners thought I had some kind of illness that would cause me to droop and be immobile at Mass. I'm not sure what they thought it was, but I was told by some their diagnosis. Oh, yes, there were those who said they had the same thing, but that they fought it off.
Yes, that is what the Rev. Msgr. asked me to do at first. He said to fight it. So I fought it and fought it. I even took a large safety pin and stuck it deep into my wrist, but I could not continue due to the force of the Holy Spirit overcoming me, and I could no longer apply pressure. Later I got into trouble with the Bishop for having done that, and he told me I must never ever try to keep the Lord from doing what He willed with me, by any hurtful means. Of course, much later than that, he had abandoned me, and the last time I saw him on this earth, he mocked the state.
Then there was the priest who was adamant that it was psychological, and that if I wanted, I could stop it. That was a repetitive opinion. There is so much irony to all of it. Thanks be to God for the humor. Prior to that he thought I was having a panic attack at each Mass. Now, panic attacks are nothing like the state.
This gives more than enough idea of how people who do not have lived experience with some phenomenon, but who try to weigh in, can get so many directives going that the person undergoing the experience is left confused and upset, and bounced around trying this or that, or beaten down. But it all is very good from the standpoint of suffering and to experience a tidbit of what Jesus went through even in carrying the cross (and with help) to Calvary.
But there was one priest who remained steady, and then Fr. V. came along even if briefly. And there was and is Dr. H. who was consulted several times. Being an expert in paranormal and also in hypnotherapy, he asked all kinds of questions and said it was nothing of earth and could not be replicated in a clinical setting. He said it is quite rare, but it is not unheard of. He also advised me how to cooperate with God during the state, as he said in that spiritual mode, there is great love flowing through me that would be efficacious for those in the vicinity or any soul brought into my mind's eye. But most of the time, there is nothing seen, and nothing remembered by me...unless some temporal intrusion.
People can be so incredibly cruel, and I do not understand why some people who have these experiences are treated not so horribly, but others are treated terribly. For the most part, in my research, women mystics are by far more ill-treated in the Catholic Church than their male counterparts. But in Puritan times, we know how such persons were considered witches and burned at the stake.
At this point in my existence, I am hibernating and remaining in His Love, laying low, and seeking the joy and delight that once was mine in the Lord, and the innocence and love and sweetness was readily at hand. Even though Jesus told me to not pay any attention to those who criticize, it is not easy, for ugliness spreads and dampens the spirits. The reason it is so weighty is due to how serious a sin for the people who criticize and give their inexpert opinions.
Not everyone was nasty or hurtful or negative or envious or anything other than nice. My Protestant friends have always valued my friendship and prayers. They were the ones who defended me to my fellow Catholics when I lived in my hometown. Yet they and Dr. H. and even the one priest who knows me best, find it hard to believe I would still remain a Catholic after all this and a whole lot more. I guess I still have the faith and love in Jesus, that somehow these crosses are part of my destiny. I may be wrong, though. Only Jesus knows for sure.
As for the state during Mass, a bulk of Catholics were totally unaware of anything different transpiring at all, which is best. And much of the time, especially at daily Mass, people got used to it. Some asked me in advance to pray for certain intentions. That was positive and a good use of the situation. A lot of the problems came from my being directed to never say anything about it nor answer questions. That tactic was not helpful to anyone.
But, regardless of all of the above examples, none of it matters much other than what Jesus thinks, anyway. When all is said and done, and the state goes away some day or not (there are examples of some leaving and others not until death), what people think it is or is not, is moot. What probably matters most is the state of their souls as well as if they denied any good or understanding of His Real Presence due to their huffing and puffing and thinking this or that, rather than as the one priest says, enjoying the message and reminder of the power of the Mass, and appreciating the gift as a teachable moment. But then, he might be wrong, too.
Only Jesus knows for sure.
So this is part of the tale of the state during Mass but also of previous, varied directives. I've had input from other priests, one who kept asking if I had been mentally checked out and cleared. Yes. Another had the reaction that sadly, some priests and bishops are "just plain mean," as he put it. But for whatever worth, this is but just a smidgeon of what one can be put through when there is some phenomenon that you never asked for nor anticipated in your wildest imagination. Or, prior to the visible phenomenon, how one may be treated when priests know about one's mystical life. In addition to people having envy of such experiences, there is a reason why mystics say never to desire such things.
As for the state during Mass, any Mass, any parish, any locale, the latest word from Dr. H. is: Accept it. The latest word from the spiritual father is to allow the crucifixion and offer it for the Church. For now, though, I have been in hibernation and deep rest, remaining in His Love and asking to be renewed in spirit and love, and to be healed of many facets of the ugliness that one thinks ought not be necessary, but His Real Presence must deem otherwise.
I hope this is helpful to someone, anyone, out there, or some day, for these things do happen, and I pray that we grow as Christians into handling such matters with greater charity and temperance.