Were some saints mentally ill, or holy, or both?

by Stephen G. Adubato, NCR Online  |  05/01/2021  |  

While in the confessional with a struggling novice in a lay consecrated community, the late Puerto Rican-born physicist, priest and writer Lorenzo Albacete recommended reading St. Teresa of Ávila's autobiography as penance.

When the young novice came upon the sections about Teresa's mystical episodes, she "got really scared," saying to Albacete, "This woman is kind of crazy! She's talking to Jesus, Jesus tells her what to do, she does it. ... How does the church know that she was just not crazy? Out of all the crazy people throughout history that have claimed to talk to Jesus, how do you know the true one?"

"Your problem," Albacete responded, "is that you think that crazy has nothing to do with Christ — that it's an objection."

"If Christ cannot win over crazy," he continued, "then there is a space of the experience of humanity that he cannot conquer and win over. So sanctity and crazy are not mutually exclusive. For all we know she could have been crazy, because Jesus can use a certain state of mind to get into a relationship with you. So she might have been crazy, who cares?"

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