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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition


Questions and Answers


In Saint Paul’s writing about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, he seems to speak of marriage as being a remedy for concupiscence, about spouses fulfilling the marital duty, in a way to me that seems quite utilitarian and base. He also speaks about not depriving one another for fear that Satan will tempt them. That doesn’t seem to me like freedom, purity and holiness, but rather that spouses must get their “fix” lest they sin further. Paul seems to laud the unmarried state but grant the married state as an allowance for those who are unable or unwilling to control themselves. Regarding advice to the unmarried, Paul speaks of marriage and its associated troubles, and his desire for others to be spared these troubles, one of which I would think would be the constant danger within marriage of sins of lust and the challenge to avoid them, all the while striving for holiness. Later in that chapter, Paul speaks of a man with strong passions marrying the virgin he is engaged to. This he says is no sin. Although Paul again holds the unmarried state at a higher level, he still says that those who marry because of passion commit no sin. But it seems to me that those who lack self-control outside marriage and are burned up with lust and marry because of it are not really marrying for the right reason. How do we reconcile Paul’s words here with my understanding of the faith presented on your website? It seems like a higher, narrower and much more noble way than what Paul is proposing, or at least making allowances for.

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• Paul’s Nobility
• The Corinthian Culture
• The Higher and Narrower Way

Saint Paul was such a great Apostle because he had such a great influence both on the early Church and on the development of Christian theology through the centuries. All of the great saints, including even the “littlest” of the great saints, Saint Thérèse, experienced a profound Pauline influence on their lives.

Read an excerpt from a writing about love
by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Accordingly, even my own work draws inspiration from Saint Paul’s writings. All that has been deeply transformed by love cannot help but “be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17).

Paul’s Nobility

Consider, therefore, some of the things Saint Paul wrote and how my understanding of the faith presented on this website is in complete accord with them.


For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


—Romans 8:13


Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.


—Romans 12:2


. . . complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.


—Philippians 2:2–4


Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. . . .


—Colossians 3:12–13


Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.


—Romans 12:9-17

Yes, “be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.”

Then ask yourself how often you ever notice anyone in your parish doing any of these things! Most likely you will see overwhelming preoccupation with the flesh; immodesty; vanity and pride; competition; impatience; intellectual arrogance; disunity and factions; self-absorption in heathen, secular entertainments; and resentment, victimization, and anger galore.

Why should this be? It happens because too many Christians have become lukewarm in their faith and have grown slack in the zeal of fighting the spiritual battle between the soul and the world.

The Corinthian Culture

Now, to get to the point of your question, it’s important to remember that Saint Paul was known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. Consider, then, to whom Paul was writing. He was not writing to Jews who knew full well what it meant to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Paul wrote to pagans and heathens whose religious culture concerned itself either with appeasing the gods or with gaining power and escaping death.

So when the Corinthians heard the words “salvation” and “eternal life” preached, the primary question for many of them was, “What do I have to do to make this God give me eternal life?” Their focus was on getting something, and their underlying attitude was, “What is the least I have to do to get into heaven?”

Paul did his best to correct the Corinthian misperceptions by preaching to them the nobility of love (see 1 Corinthians 13), and he emphasized the difference between the flesh and the spirit (see Romans 8). But many of the Corinthians—just like many persons today—either did not want to hear him or they perverted the idea of love into something more of their own liking, something less noble and, well, more of the flesh.

It must have been with a heavy sigh that Paul wrote the passage to which you refer. It’s as if Paul were saying, “All right, if you aren’t going to listen to me, then go ahead and do what you want. Getting married will at least prevent you from committing the sin of fornication. As for lust, well, if you ignore what I have told you about love, your life is in your own hands.”

Note carefully that a willingness to risk the doom of your soul for the sake of temporal pleasure
is in itself an act of concupiscence.

The Higher and Narrower Way

The way of noble love is the higher and the narrower way. This is what Saint Paul preached, and this is what I endeavor to explain on this website—and so we do not need to reconcile the two. The real discrepancy is between the nobility of love and “this age”: the secular culture. Paul encountered this truth, and we still encounter it today. It’s the same yesterday and today—and it will be the same until the end.


Who wrote this web page?


Psychological Healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites is now available at your fingertips in book form with a comprehensive index.
Psychological defenses help to protect us from emotional injury, but if you cling to the defense mechanisms that were created in your childhood and carry them on into adulthood—as most everyone does unconsciously—your quest for spiritual healing will be thwarted by overwhelming resentments and conflicts.
Still, God has been trying to show you that there is more to life than resentment and conflict, something so beautiful and desirable that only one thing can resist its pull: hate.
So now, and in every moment until you die, you will have a profound choice between your enslavement to old defenses and the beauty of God. That decision has to come from you. You will go where you desire.

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