Catholics/going to church


Dear Padre,
some people have a real difficult time with socializing and sometimes even experience loneliness around other people. This could be due to Aspergers or personality disorder. Just going to church on Sundays could be too much for them. Not even church is a place for them to relax from their psychological problems.
What do you as a Priest think about this and how do you deal with such problems? Do you have any advice to us with such psychiatric problems?

As a priest I don't deal with psychological problems such as the one you mention.  That is the realm of Medical Science, not Spirituality and Theology.

What I can do for such people is help them understand and process how this impacts their relationship with God.  When a medical condition hampers a person from being able to come to Mass and participate, it can affect the person's relationship with God and with the community.  The trick is to help such people find God in the midst of their condition, and help the people come to God through other means.  Since every person is different, there is no general answer I can give to how I might help a person with this.  

However if a person has a condition such as the one described above---and they feel Church is too much for them because even there they cannot relax from their psychological problems I might ask them the question "What makes you think or feel that in order to go to Church you SHOULD be able to escape from psychological problems?"  After all Church is the place where we encounter Jesus most fully--it seems to me I would WANT to bring all my problems with me to Church so I can offer them to Jesus and we can deal with them together in the midst of the community.  Church is not a place where problems are left at the door, but where problems are brought to God. In Mass we encounter Christ crucified---hence---our sufferings are joined with that of Christ and offered to the Father as our gift.  Church isn't about having our problems taken away, but in finding God revealed in and through our problems.  It is when we are weak that we are strongest for the power of God is revealed in our weakness.  

Secondly I would probably pose the question "Given that there is no place where you can escape psychological problems, what difference does it make to miss Church and stay home?  Whether at home or in Church one obviously has their problems. Seems it is better to go to Church since staying at home isn't going to help anyway."  

Finally--I would encourage such a person to see out medical advice (if they have not already done so) and follow whatever plan their doctor lays out for them.  


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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