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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

Why don’t you read the Bible and turn your life over to Jesus? You just parrot Catholic dogma.

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• Two Meanings of Tradition
• Rejecting Tradition
• Let’s Suppose It Could Be Wrong
• Let’s Suppose It’s True
• Maybe versus Maybe: Gains and Losses
• Do You Really Love God?

No matter how much you study the Bible, it is still important to understand that there is more to Christianity than the Bible itself. The tradition of the Catholic Church, in fact, has as much value as the Bible. Why? Well, Church tradition determined which books constitute the Bible in the first place.

Two Meanings of Tradition

When speaking about tradition, it will help to understand that the word actually has two meanings relevant to the Church:


In its most simple sense, tradition refers to a particular manner of doing something. For example, the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church is a traditional way of celebrating the Eucharist that differs from the traditional way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Roman rite. Both rites—along with all the other rites of the Catholic Church—are equally “right” because they all preserve the same basic doctrine of what constitutes Christianity.



In its broadest and most profound sense, tradition refers to all the knowledge and practices by which a doctrine is preserved. Thus, when we speak of the Tradition of the Catholic Church, we are referring to everything that the Church has done, beginning with the teaching and acts of Jesus Himself, to expound the fundamental meaning and practices of Christianity.

Rejecting Tradition

During the Protestant Reformation, beginning with Martin Luther himself, Protestants criticized various Church traditions (in the simple sense), and, in revising those disputed traditions, an they created an entirely new tradition (in the broad sense). Thus, in rejecting the traditions of the Catholic Church, the Protestants created an entirely new doctrine. Even though they continued to call themselves Christians, they formulated ideas and practices that departed from and completely missed the point about true Christianity.

Sadly, many persons today who call themselves Christian blatantly reject Catholic Tradition as well, saying that many things central to the Faith are no longer relevant to today’s enlightened and “liberated” world.

These persons may believe that they are merely tinkering with unwanted “traditions,” but they are in danger of rejecting fundamental Christian doctrine itself. Still, I know that arguing with anyone about any of this won’t get us anywhere. So let’s try something different. Let’s look directly at doubt itself.

Let’s Suppose It Could Be Wrong

Let’s suppose that the Tradition of the Catholic Church could be wrong. Maybe the Church’s teaching about morality—such as artificial birth control and abortion, for example—that isn’t found explicitly in the Bible is wrong. And maybe Christ’s teaching about divorce (Matthew 5:31–32; Mark 10:11–12; Luke 16:18), for example, even though it is explicitly stated in the Bible, comes from an archaic culture and really doesn’t apply to today’s “liberated” modern world. Maybe the Church’s teaching about the Trinity is wrong. Maybe the Church’s fidelity to Christ’s own actions in not ordaining women to the priesthood is all wrong. Maybe the Church’s understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is wrong, and maybe we should be celebrating Communion with something—like coffee and donuts—that is relevant to the modern world.

Maybe the Tradition of the Catholic Church is all wrong, maybe it doesn’t have any relevance to Christianity, and maybe God doesn’t care about any of it.


All right. And now that we are on an equal footing here, consider the other “maybe.”

Let’s Suppose It’s True

Maybe the Tradition of the Catholic Church is true. Maybe there are ideas and practices which Christ handed on to the Apostles that didn’t get recorded in the Bible. Maybe the Tradition of the Catholic Church has been inspired by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit over the ages, even if to the eyes of modern logic it seems restricted and conservative.

So what is a rational, enlightened person to do in the face of one “maybe” versus the other?

Maybe versus Maybe: Gains and Losses

Well, consider, then, what you have to gain by rejecting the Tradition of the Catholic Church, regardless of whether it really matters or not. You would gain personal convenience and self-gratification, perhaps, but nothing more.

So now consider what you have to gain by accepting the Tradition of the Catholic Church—that is, if the Tradition of the Catholic Church really does matter: you could gain everlasting life.

And what do you have to lose by accepting the Tradition of the Catholic Church—that is, if it really doesn’t matter? Well, you would lose only some personal convenience and self-gratification—yet you would still have all the psychological benefits of living a chaste and holy life.

And what do you have to lose by rejecting the Tradition of the Catholic Church—that is, if it really does matter? You could be thrown out of the wedding banquet and into the darkness because you refused to put on the wedding garments provided for you. You could, therefore, lose everlasting life.

Do You Really Love God?

So think about this now. If you have turned your life over to Jesus—that is, if you truly love God above all else and seek to live a holy life as Christ taught us—then wouldn’t you do anything to avoid violating God’s will? Wouldn’t common sense—if not love itself—say, “I can’t risk doing anything that will offend Him, even if there’s only the slightest chance that it might be wrong”?


And if a soul, retaining the slightest stain, were to draw near to God in the beatific vision, it would be to her a more grievous injury, and inflict more suffering, than Purgatory itself. Nor could God Himself, who is pure goodness and supreme justice, endure her presence. She would be out of place, and the sight of God, not yet entirely satisfied (so long as the least possible purification remained to be accomplished) would be intolerable to her, and she would cast herself into the deepest Hell rather than stand before Him and be still impure.


—Saint Catherine of Genoa
Treatise on Purgatory, Chapter XIV

In the end, therefore, isn’t your rejection of the Tradition of the Catholic Church proof in itself that you haven’t really turned your life over to Jesus? In your rejection of the Tradition of the Catholic Church, aren’t you saying psychologically that you’re willing to risk everything, even everlasting life, for the sake of nothing more than your own personal convenience and self-gratification, and that you value your own reason more than you value love of God? And, in doing and saying all this, isn’t your so-called “faith” really just a veiled form of pride, the great sin of placing human reason above God’s holy Will?


And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God in hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.


— 1 Thessalonians, 2:13




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