EWTN Catholic Q&A
Fanatically "religious"
Question from Mary on 11-20-2012:

Dear Father Echert,

I am sorry this question seems very strange, but I really would like your opinion.

I have a close neighbor who is extremely "religious" in her dress, manner, decorum and conversation. The topic of her conversations always centers on her spiritual life. While I also have great devotion to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother, her behavior makes me extremely uncomfortable --- almost eerie-- especially when she has a habit of gazing intently at the person with whom she is conversing. I always thought the problem was my own perception. However, when I introduced her to a friend, my friend confided in me that she felt very strange in this woman's company and advised me to "keep my distance". I said and did nothing to influence this reaction. Therefore, I felt that my feelings had some foundation. I don't want to be rude, but I can't help but feel this discomfort with a neighbor who is sometimes difficult to avoid.

I value your opinion about this, Father.

God bless you.

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 11-20-2012:

There are many with devout spiritual lives who are normal folks with regards to social relationships and personal mental and emotional health but there are some who are simply peculiar people who also actively pursue a spiritual life. Often the problem is a lack of balance on the part of someone who becomes overly zealous and obsessed with spiritual and religious matters, sometimes at the expense of other responsibilities or in excess. If such is the case with this neighbor, if not her spiritual and religious life she would probably find some other human interest or activity to which she would become so attached that it would dominate her life and her interactions with others. You are probably right in your assessment, especially since this is confirmed by someone who met her only briefly and detected this as well. I would say to remain friendly but you do not have to be close friends and you will have to find practical ways to avoid prolonged engagements or frequent encounters, hopefully without hurting her feelings.

God bless, Mary

Father Echert