As a Catholic, it is important for me to follow the path of holiness that God has in store for me. We each have a cross to bear in union with the Cross of Christ. As a Catholic with Bipolar Disorder, I’ve found that it is better to model St. Gemma Galgani, and other meek saints like her, than it is to put a lot of hard work into studying the great Doctors of the Church.
For quite some time, I have been studying the Summa Theologica on the passions, culpability, development of habits, development of virtues, etc., in order to get myself mentally healthier, so that I can be holier. The fact is, however, that one cannot “think” one’s way into better health. It is laying a heavy burden on oneself to expect one to understand the Summa Theologica in order to become a saint. Furthermore, I don’t have to get better to become holier. Quite the opposite. It’s not what we know that gets us into heaven. It’s how much God loves us, and how much we love in return.
Jesus promises us that His yoke is light.
Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
He wants us to find “rest for our souls.” In Bipolar Disorder, it is often very difficult to think clearly. It is hard work to read the Summa and other such treatises. This is not what God wants for us when we are in this condition.
It also seems to me that people with Bipolar Disorder should not enter those particular Third Orders that are very strict, like the OCDS, for example. Bipolar Disorder is a heavy enough cross to bear without taking on a new cross in addition to it. It should be enough to know that one is privileged to bear a cross in life that one can offer up in union with Jesus’ Sufferings for the sake of souls.
Finally, to believe that one must have some “secret knowledge” in order to get to heaven is actually a form of Gnosticism. It’s not necessary to understand the Doctors of the Church. It’s only necessary to take what God has given you and to give it back to Him with love.
This brings me back to St. Gemma.
Gemma was not a person of half measures; she loved God with all of her being. Her heart was all on fire with the love of Jesus, and Jesus was everything to her.
Let Jesus be everything to you, too, and all will be well, no matter how much, or how little, you know about theology.