An Aspie Catholic

“Anonymous” has left a comment under an old post of mine, Asperger’s and Religion. I want to share it with everyone because it contains a lot of jewels, and I don’t want people to miss them because the post is old. But don’t worry, fans: I’ll be writing another post today about my Matthew daily quiet time, though something tells me that these comments from “Anonymous” will get a lot more replies. I’ve corrected some of the spelling and punctuation, which I’m just saying because there may be a law about that (who knows?). Enjoy!
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I’m an Aspie Catholic myself and I totally agree with all the comments on this issue.

It’s great to know that I am not alone in my thinking. Where i come from in Asia, Catholicism has become rather “feel good” and “charismatic” with emphasis on “healing” and other “touchy feely” activities. I absolutely cannot stand hugging or joining hands with strangers, even though they may be fellow Catholics, and I hate it when I am made to feel “unloving” because of this. Anyway, I have solved the problem by looking for more “traditional” churches. Another trick is to go for early morning mass. I find that these hyper folks tend to be more subdued when deprived of sleep!! Would just like to add my two cents worth about why Catholicism is suitable for Aspies.

Latin chants. I find Latin music and Latin prayers which are sung especially soothing to my senses. It happens even when the priest uses English to chant. I suspect it repeats the “spinning” experience that we Aspies are known to like.

Ignatian Spirituality. I highly recommend this to all Aspies. Years ago, I read the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” and a lot of it did not make sense to me. For me, codification of Catholic doctrine confused more than clarified my faith issues. Because of this, I was lapsed in my faith for a long time, but this was before I learned about the Jesuits and their highly scientific and methodological approach to doctrine and spirituality. Before I came across the Jesuits, almost every catholic or priest I knew always said I used my head too much. I was made to feel that to be a good Catholic or Christian, an Aspie had to suspend his highly logical and critical mind and “listen to Rome.”

The Dominicans are highly logical as well, but I find some of their stuff a bit ” beyond me.” One last thing. Would an Aspie ever become a good missionary, priest, or pastor? It’s quite a complex question. On one hand, an Aspie’s preference not to socialise would make him unsuitable. On the other hand, an Aspie’s hyper-sensitivity means that he will be acutely aware of life issues like injustice, suffering, and other morality issues. This is one issue I grapple with even as a lay Catholic. On one hand, I want to put my faith into action to help the poor and the marginalised. On the other hand, I have an aversion to working with people. Religion has pretty much been “me and my God,” and I have no clue whatsoever on how to go beyond that.

Thought Anyone?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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5 Responses to An Aspie Catholic

  1. Nathan K. says:

    Well, as no one else has jumped in with a comment on this, I’ll offer a bit of my point of view.

    I’m an aspie as well, but I only learned that I was about six months ago. It’s helped to explain a number of things about my life, but I’m still figuring out what it means to have Asperger’s.

    The temptation is to think that practically everything in my life is due to being an aspie, but as James pointed out in some of his posts, people with Asperger’s seem about as diverse as anyone when it comes to things like religious and political persuasions– you’ll get both atheists and fundamentalists citing Asperger’s as a reason why they believe the way they do and being surprised that others believe differently! (No one here has been doing that, by the way; I’m mostly just rambling.)

    Anyway, I can identify with finding comfort in structured worship, even though I’ve never been a part of a church with as structured a liturgy as Anonymous is talking about.

    I can remember when I was at a conservative baptist Christian school, I sometimes heard people express a negative opinion of using things like recited prayers (for instance, the Lord’s Prayer), particularly if this was done week after week. I think they were afraid that it would become “vain repetition,” words spoken without meaning, which Jesus warned his disciples against.

    However, I found that I was just as likely to find my mind wandering during prayer when it was different every week as I did when it was the same.

    As a matter of fact, when I started going to a church that had a little more structure, I found the “repetitious” parts of the service some of the most comforting and encouraging times. At one church, for instance, we would sing either the Doxology–

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow
    Praise Him all creatures here below
    Praise Him above, ye heavenly host
    Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
    Amen.

    –or the Gloria Patri–

    Glory be to the Father
    And to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
    As it was in the beginning,
    Is now, and ever shall be,
    World without end. Amen, amen.

    — before the pastor would come up to preach his sermon. What this communicated to me was that no matter what my week had been like, no matter what my state of mind was, no matter if I had been a “good” person recently or if I had sinned– God was exactly the same God, worthy of praise and glory. And nothing I could do would change that or mess it up.

    It was a very freeing feeling after going to a lot of services that seemed to be asking for a certain emotional response to the songs– causing me to think that if the right emotions weren’t there, there must be something wrong with me.

    I am grateful for things like those songs, reciting creeds, orders of worship that include confession of sin followed by God’s pardon of sin from Scripture, and the Lord’s Supper that remind me of the unchanging promises of God.

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  2. James Pate says:

    I identify with a lot of what you say there, Nathan. For me personally, as far as structure goes, I’m open to different things. But one thing I could not stand was when I visited a church and it was all praise and worship–no sermon. They just went where the Spirit led them (in their minds).

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  3. Pepper Basham says:

    “What this communicated to me was that no matter what my week had been like, no matter what my state of mind was, no matter if I had been a “good” person recently or if I had sinned– God was exactly the same God, worthy of praise and glory. And nothing I could do would change that or mess it up.”

    What an AWESOME comment, Nathan.

    “But one thing I could not stand was when I visited a church and it was all praise and worship–no sermon. They just went where the Spirit led them (in their minds).”

    I wholeheartedly agree. Can we have a true worship service without the reading and preaching of the WORD?

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  4. James Pate says:

    That would be hard to do, Pepper.

    Your sites look interesting. I’ll be taking a closer look at them soon.

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  5. Lorenzo says:

    Hello, my name is Lorenzo and I suffer from Asperger’s syndrom. I live in the Czech Republic and study master’s degree of art history. I do an altar service almost every day. I also like latin prayers. I’m interested in spirituality of St. Francis, crusaders (Czech order) and eucharistians. I’m a lay eucharistian, which is good, I should go for and adoration for an hour a month but I adorate more often. In the CZ are no eucharistians, so I might go to the third order of Norbertines. I like silent adorations. I often feel a subject of discrimination that I can’t become a priest becouse I can’t stand situation in Church. I like latin holly Masses and altar “versus Dei” and I wanna have more posibilities to go for an adoration.

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