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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I am 25 years old. . . . I am hardworking; I hold education as one of the highest values. I work full time, but have done a master’s degree at night and am planning to do another. I am generally considered easy going and likable by people who know me. I believe in treating everyone with respect regardless of their situation, and that isn’t to tout myself as an angel but that kind of thinking unfortunately is not always prevalent in society.
In August, something not so great happened. . . . I was helping my mother with some shopping, and while I was waiting in front of a store by myself, some guy started yelling at me to move out of the way. He was pulling back in a large black SUV, had a very loud voice, and was very rude and insulting and just not the type of person I am used to dealing with. . . . I begrudgingly moved rather than step out, but also gave him the middle finger, which I admit was stupid but it drove me crazy that he called me an idiot with such malice in his voice (and driving a big SUV too, which fit the personality). . . . That incident threw me into anxiety and grief worse than I ever thought possible. . . . I was humiliated in public not for some other person’s temper, and the transgressor drove off and got the last word in as well. . . . in the back of my mind this lingers as an open transaction, something that could happen again, and that somebody out there actually thinks of me this way. . . . a part of me can’t let go of the scorn that was showered on me and also that my relative peace of mind was broken. . . .
I grew up Catholic. . . . I was quite active until about the age of 18, when doubts overwhelmed my beliefs about going to Church and that religion was best lived personally. I definitely do believe in God, I believe that He acts in ways that we cannot always comprehend and that there is a reason for everything. . . . I have been drawn to your site for more learning; and though still somewhat agitated and carrying a dark cloud over the event, this has certainly forced some introspection.

You offer a perfect testimony to the fact that no matter how well-educated we may be, and no matter how much we might think of ourselves as kind and considerate, we can suddenly encounter the shocking reality that our peaceful exteriors hide a seething mass of unconscious anger.

In fact, many persons—not just the laity but also the religious, sad to say—use an exterior of spiritual “niceness” to hide some very ugly emotions.

Therefore, I certainly sympathize with your anxiety and grief, because when I was your age I was in the same place. Yes, just like you, I thought of myself as peaceful and easy-going. And, yes, I, too, “believed in God” in a vague, personal, generically Protestant way. Only when I entered into psychoanalysis as part of my training in clinical psychology did I begin to recognize how much my deepest emotional life was completely out of my conscious awareness. And only when I converted to Catholicism and submitted to all the spiritual counsels that I describe on this website (and that I never learned in my Protestant seminary education) did I really understand how much we all, secretly in our hearts, dread human scorn—and how much hard and constant work it takes to live a genuinely peaceful life through self-sacrifice as Christ demands of us all.

So you have two options for healing.

You can enter into intensive Catholic psychotherapy and discover for yourself, over the course of treatment, the dark and frightening reality of your own unconscious. Then, if you have the courage to persevere, you will discover the divine grace that flows through the unconscious as your purification progresses.

Or you can submit to the spiritual purgation I describe on this website, and through self-restraint and prayer you can discover and heal the pride and vanity that dwells so deeply in all of us, laity and religious alike. Because our wounds lie so deep, God’s love must cut even deeper.

Saint John of the CrossWhether a soul is wounded by other wounds of miseries and sins or whether it is healthy, this cautery of love immediately effects a wound of love in the one it touches, and those wounds deriving from other causes become wounds of love.

—Saint John of the Cross
The Living Flame of Love, 2.7

For most of us, sadly, love is only a surface scratch, so either option will take hard, disciplined work. With the first option you will at least understand why you act so irrationally, and that will bring you some peace in this life. The second option—on its own, or combined with the first option—can bring you everlasting peace because it demands more than just a personal belief that God exists; it demands a belief in God—and a consequent obedience to God’s will—that must govern your entire moment-by-moment existence. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

Just remember one thing. Saint Catherine of Genoa, the great lay mystic who literally wrote the Saint Catherine of Genoa book on Purgatory, showed us that the price a person pays for spiritual purification in this life is hardly anything compared to the price he would have to pay in Purgatory.

Mind you, this assumes that unrepentant sins resulting from indifference to, or disavowal of, Catholic teaching are repented at least at the moment of death so that they don’t send that person straight to hell. Think about that. It gives practical spiritual meaning to the statement that “you can pay now or you can pay later.”


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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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.