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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

The Vanity of Protest

All lives matter to God.


Catholic Psychotherapy  |  Spiritual Counsels  |  Books  |  About CSF

Compensation for Injury | To Condemn the World | Three Conditions of an Act of Protest | What is Not Protest | For the Sake of Love | A World Littered with Corpses | A Quiet Refusal, Not a Public Protest | Imagine | The Real Battle

WHENEVER children are hurt, for whatever reason, some part of them cries out, “Stop, or I’ll die!” Then, through the tears, a desire for some form of recognition and compensation takes shape. A piece of food, a piece of candy, a piece of money—whatever it might be—brings the teary, blurred world back into focus. Death fades away and life resumes.

That’s the way it works for children.

Therefore, even as adults, there will always be a child-like part of us that seeks some recognition of our pain and some compensation for any hurt we suffer. We will say, “Why me? This isn’t fair!” We will feel like innocent victims being persecuted by the world. We will point our fingers in blame. 

To Condemn the World

Like Hamlet holding a mirror up to his mother,[1] the person feeling victimized will seek to show the world its own face as “evidence” that, he hopes, will condemn the world for its own injustice.

Hamlet appealed to his mother, lost as she was in her own vain deception, hoping that she would recognize her sin. But where was his father? Dead, and seeking revenge. Receiving small satisfaction from his mother, Hamlet therefore took matters into his own hands. And so a play about revenge ends on a stage littered with corpses.

And so when we march in the streets and in picket lines, whom do we hope will see us? Whose gaze do we seek psychologically? Just as Hamlet appealed to his deceived mother, perhaps we, frustrated with the injustices of the world, unconsciously appeal to our own deceived mother—to Eve herself? And all the while we wage our futile protest, holding up a mirror to the Mother of Disobedience, the devil snickers in the background.

Where, then, is our Father? Well, unlike Hamlet’s dead father, our Father is everywhere, a living God, witnessing everything. What injustice can occur that God has not already seen? And in His Passion and death, did not Christ experience personally every injustice known to humanity? And did He not endure all injustice with prayer, forbidding us to take revenge?


When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.


—1 Peter 2:23

Three Conditions of an Act of Protest

Shakespeare was a brilliant writer who had a deep understanding of psychology well before the development of psychology as a science and an art. His play Hamlet looks deep into the human psyche and has much to say about social behavior. In particular, the scene of Hamlet holding a mirror to the face of his mother elucidates three fundamental conditions that characterize an act of protest.


An act of protest draws attention to itself.


An act of protest aggressively makes itself irritating to others.


An act of protest makes a demand on others.

Thus we see that Hamlet drew attention to himself by entering his mother’s private chamber; he aggressively caused irritation to his mother by putting the mirror into her face; and he made the demand that in seeing herself in the mirror she should “see” the immorality of her behavior and correct it.

In a similar way, modern protesters draw attention to themselves by massing in groups; they aggressively cause irritation to others by chanting, damaging property, and harassing others; and they make demands on others for social changes.

What is Not Protest

As one example, praying in front of abortion agencies doesn’t fulfill all three conditions of an act of protest. The praying persons may draw attention to themselves by kneeling on a sidewalk, but if they don’t block the entrance to the agency and simply pray quietly they are not being aggressive or causing irritation; finally, their prayers for the souls of the aborted children are not a demand made to the abortion agency. It would be an act of protest, however, to hold up a sign saying “Wake up America: Abortion is a Hate Crime” because that would be an aggressive, in-the-face irritation to agency clients. 

As another example, the pictures and comments on my website are not an act of protest because they do not draw attention to myself since they are seen only by those who freely visit my website; second, the pictures and comments are not aggressive and do not cause irritation to anyone referenced because only the freely-visiting reader of my website sees the images and comments; and third, the pictures and comments state facts but do not make any demands.

Furthermore, simply pointing out fraud and lies—like the little boy in the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes[2]—is not an act of protest; the boy did draw attention to himself just by speaking out, but he did not speak out aggressively just to cause irritation, nor did he make any demands. Likewise, it is permissible to write letters or make other communication to address wrongs or injuries; these things may draw attention to yourself, but you can speak in such a was as to avoid provoking irritation, and you can make a polite request rather than a demand. Similarly, resigning from a job at a Big Tech company because of its illegal censorship of conservative ideas would be witnessing the faith, not protest.

For the Sake of Love

Persons prone to protest, just like a hurt and frustrated child, cope with life by trying to get others to change their behavior, so as to make things more manageable for themselves. Persons of mature wisdom, however, cope with life by patiently enduring suffering—without hatred and without anger—for the sake of love itself: to be filled with love and to sow seeds of that love in the world around them.

The agents of evil, therefore, choose protest—and terrorism—as their choice weapons, but the humble and the just can say, “My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

A World Littered with Corpses

Therefore, if we choose to listen to a living Father, rather than a dead one, we will learn to pray, rather than protest. We will pray in faith, trusting in divine justice, rather than take matters into our own hands only to die in a world littered with corpses.


How long, O LORD? I cry for help but You do not listen! I cry out to You, “Violence!” but You do not intervene. Why do You let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.
     Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.


—Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4

A Quiet Refusal, Not a Public Protest

Even though Christians live in the world but not of it, Saint Paul told us that Christians have an obligation to be subject to civil authority, to pay taxes, and to give respect to whom respect is due (see Romans 13:1–7). Nevertheless, there are limits to this respect. Still, these limits should not be taken as an excuse to vent your anger at God. For example, it would be a grave sin to protest and attack traditional conservative values or the teachings of the Gospel because they don’t suit one’s ideology of progressive liberalism. But when civil law interferes with the peaceful practice of religion, then dissent can be justified.

This philosophy has its support from the Old Testament. For example, in the book of Esther we have the story of Mordecai who refused to kneel and bow down to a king’s servant as if the servant were a god. In the book of Daniel we have the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship the golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar had made (Daniel 3:1–97). In the same book we also have the story of Daniel himself who was thrown into a lion’s den for refusing to follow a law prohibiting prayer to any god or man except the king (Daniel 6:1–29). In the book of Maccabees we have the story of the martyrdom of a mother and her sons for refusing to eat pork in violation of God’s law (2 Maccabees 7:1–42).

Moreover, we have the stories of countless Christian martyrs. It began with Christians who refused to worship the Roman emperor, and it has continued through the centuries with those who suffered persecution and death rather than betray their faith.


Notice that the directive here is not to protest laws contrary to the faith but to refuse to follow any such laws imposed on us personally. Moreover, even deeper than this is the fundamental Christian directive to live in the world but not of it—that is, to refuse to participate in any aspect of society that condones sin. Furthermore, Scripture makes it perfectly clear what that price can be: persecution even unto death.



Imagine if all Christians had a common Christian identity and refused to engage in the wickedness of the world around them. What if all Christians refused to support the fundamentally anti-Christian arts, entertainment, sports, and advertising industries? What if all Christians refused to allow their minds to be corrupted by watching TV and movies? What if all Christians refused to waste time playing video games and texting trivial messages? What if all Christians lived chaste lifestyles? What if all Christians refused to wear immodest clothes? What if all Christians refused abortions? Think of the immense power that Christian behavior could have in witnessing a genuine love for God in a world grown cold with lust and hatred.

But now, sadly, Christian behavior has no more power than the filth it wallows in. That’s why we are in the insane mess we’re in today. That’s why so many families today are falling into psychological and spiritual dysfunction. That’s why so many children have fallen from the Church into the anti-Christian wasteland of social doom.


When I would bring about the restoration of My people,
   when I would heal America,
The guilt of Portland stands out,
   the wickedness of New York;
They practice falsehood,
   thieves break in, bandits plunder abroad.
Yet they do not remind themselves
   that I remember all their wickedness.
Even now their crimes surround them,
   present to My sight.

— see Hosea 7:1–2


The Real Battle

Every Christian has taken baptismal vows to renounce Satan, to turn away from evil and sin, and to turn to Christ in chaste and holy service. Therefore, every Christian, in everything he or she does—no matter whether trivial or important—has an obligation to be a good and holy representative of the Church to all of society. That’s a serious responsibility.


The real battle of life is between Satan and your soul, not between you and other persons. Have no doubts that Satan will tempt you through others in every way he can, to induce you to lose your patience, to fall into hatred, or to defile chastity. And God will allow him to tempt you, as a way of strengthening and purifying your soul. The wicked are not here for us to eradicate them; they are here for us to become saints in our refusal to be like them.


You might believe that you have moral standards to uphold in defiance of your political rivals, but the hatred in your heart that calls for bullying, heckling, and harassment—and rioting and arson—makes you a worse human than any of the persons you despise.

This shows that the ideology of “social tolerance” is all a fraud and just a mask that hides deep unconscious hate and anger. In fact, the intolerance and hate behind the mask of tolerance is eerily similar to the Nazi ideology such persons purport to reject.

Thus we reach the ultimate irony that protesting the fraud of the world only makes you part of the fraud. Using hate to protest anything only stains you with hate.

So no matter how others bait you, your responsibility is to act always in imitation of Christ as a faithful and fruitful representative of the Church. If you fail in this, then the enemies of the Church will just sneer, and say, “See? Those Catholics are all just a bunch of hypocrites.” You will be labeled a fanatic and fall into ruin, and your enemies will be strengthened. Thus everyone will lose.


If you accuse someone of being a racist you are a racist.

If you end up in hell because you try to fight the devil with anything other than love, you will have no one to blame but yourself.


Questions and Answers:
About human rights and the U.S. Constitution

Read an opinion of dissent . . .



1. William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV.

2. See Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes.


The text of this webpage, integrated with other material from my websites, has been conveniently organized into a paperback book of 350 pages, including a comprehensive index.


Though Demons Gloat: They Shall Not Prevail
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

Though we are attacked by liberal activists from without and by apostasy from within, the true Church—that is, the body of those who remain faithful to Church tradition—weeps, and she prays, because she knows the fate of those who oppose God.
     Our enemies might fear love, and they can push love away, but they can’t kill it. And so the battle against them cannot be fought with politics; it requires a pro­found personal struggle against the immorality of popular culture. The battle must be fought in the service of God with pure and chaste lifestyles lived from the depths of our hearts in every moment.

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