by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
“The problem with OCD,” John Eudes says, “is that it leads to a mode of perception and thinking that is too abstract, too narrow. God is life-giving, not a taskmaster or harsh judge of solitary behaviors, as OCD or scrupulosity suggests. To fight OCD, one has to develop other images and thoughts based on reality as perceived within faith, and to savor these and go beyond them in a life of prayer. Our Lord didn’t choose a Greek or Roman princess to be his mother, he chose a young Hebrew girl who knew the real world of mysteries they communicate. We celebrate this mystery when we say the Magnificat: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
“It is the Hebrew, more effectively than the Greek way of thinking, that brings us to touch the immediacy of God, a reality revealed rather than an ideal to be grasped by the intellect alone. OCD and modern science share common characteristics. By trying to control things, whether outward events or inward images considered to be vile and foreign, both OCD and science never grasp the implicit world that is not available to the senses. Even many 21st-century physicists now acknowledge multiverses or other universes that always exert an influence on our world. Their interactions are subtle, following laws that are quite other than those of our sensible existence, so that they escape our observations or do not even register on our most carefully crafted scientific instruments. Whether or not one accepts this explanation of the data, it does indicate that modern science considers that this material world cannot be understood without reference to a world that escapes the senses and our instruments. Faith has maintained that God is the invisible influence that accounts for the existence and maintenance of the material universe. Belief in angels is also belief in an immaterial, created world. Science suggests that there are well established facts concerning our world that support the existence of a material but invisible existence that bear upon our familiar world. Our faith has no problem in accepting such an explanation should it eventually be proved.”
John Eudes believes that “a living monastic enclosure or a faith-based mindset while living in the real world can create the freedom needed to develop a healthy extrinsic or intrinsic subculture or mental outlook that is the antithesis of OCD.” Reading the Bible or Church Fathers is, for Eudes, another way to come as close as possible to the reality of the mystery experienced by these authors. He is currently reading the Gospel of St. John, not in English or in Greek, but in the early Syriac language into which this Gospel was early translated.
Part 4: Spiritual Direction and OCD