in the Catholic Mystic Tradition
Neither shall you
allege the example of the many
as an excuse for doing wrong.
— Exodus 23:2
Spiritual Counsels |
of Success at Personal Change | Conflicted
about Faith |
Taking God for Granted |
An Example |
Belief | Believing
In Something |
You Cannot Fix Yourself
you have wanted to change your behavior
but, despite your seemingly best efforts, you just cannot succeed. Maybe
you have found that no matter how hard you tried, you just cant fix
This lack of success at personal
change actually derives from deep
originating in childhood, that prevent individuals from taking
responsibility for their lives, despite their
consciously wanting to change things they dont like.
It all starts when parents
fail to raise children in an atmosphere of devout
holiness, and fail to teach them to
love and to fear
Godthat is, to hold God in aweand to trust always in His guidance
and protection. Lacking clear guidanceand often suffering outright
abusethe children become conflicted about Faith
itself. They might accept faith
intellectually, but it means nothing to them
in any practical sense. Instead of learning to revere and trust in God, children
inadvertently learn, through parental game-playing and manipulation, to seize
whatever satisfaction they can get from the world.
Taking God for
And so, claiming to value peace
and love, your parents actually sought out pride,
self-advancement, and aggression. In the midst of this
hypocrisy, then, and in your failure to learn
to trust in an unseen God, you essentially learned to believe only in what
you can see. Instead of taking God seriously, you
end up taking God for granted.
Heres an example to help
explain what I mean.
Have you ever noticed some people
in church who are so overweight that they cannot kneel? If you ask them,
they will tell you that kneeling hurts their back. But why do they have back
pain? Isnt it from overeating and failing
Now, Im not going to argue with anyone about who is really disabled
and who is just using feelings of victimization to get sympathy or be treated
as special. The point is this: Take one of these people crying
and put a gun to her head and say, Get down on your knees and give
me all your money or I will kill you! She will be on her knees in an
instant, begging you to let her live. To save her life, she will forget her
pain and kneel. She will give up all the money she has with her, and all
her jewelry, to save her life.
And what does Christ tell us
about this? I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill
the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be
afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes,
I tell you, be afraid of that one (Luke 12:4-5).
In case youre not clear
about this, who is the one who after killing has the power to cast
into Gehenna? Well, its God himself, who, as our creator, has
power over our bodies and our souls.
And so we will kneel before a
gunman, but before Godour creator and judgewe refuse to kneel
or genuflect, saying its too
inconvenient, too painful, or just not necessary.
So why should this be? Well,
it can be summed up in one word: belief.
We can easily believe that a
man with a gun can kill anyone. But many of us dont really believe
that God cares about our every thought and action. Many of us dont
really believe that the theological concept of sin
is relevant today or that our sins separate us from Gods
love. Many of us dont really believe that
hell, the antithesis of love, exists. Many of
us dont really believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist
as evidence of His love for usor if we do believe it, we believe it
only intellectually. And so many of us dont really believe that our
salvation depends on giving up everything contrary
to love in order to serve God in total purity
Many of us dont really
believe any of this because we are too preoccupied with believing
the world around us, chasing after every
illusory self-satisfying pleasure it shows
us in the promise of numbing the emotional pain of childhood victimization.
We refuse to deny ourselves because the world seems too real, too much of
a good thing, too close at hand, too accessible, too comforting in our
But Christianity is something
else entirely. Christ does not numb our painHe heals it, if only we
believe in Him. He quenches our thirst for real life if only we turn
away from the water of the worldwater that has to be drawn again and
againand seek the living water that quenches our thirst
Blessed are those
who have not seen and have believed. There is here a particular reference
to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. We
are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good
works. The true believer practices what he believes. But of those who pay
only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say: They profess to know
God, but they deny him in their works. Therefore James says: Faith
without works is dead.
From a homily on the
by Saint Gregory the Great, pope,
Office of Readings,
July 3: Thomas, Apostle
If only you would
Now Jesus did many other
signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of
God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (John
20:30-31). And what did Christ say just before that? Blessed are those
who have not seen and who have believed (John
You Cannot Fix
And so, in the end, theres
only one thing left to say. You cannot fix yourself. Numbing your emotional
pain heals nothing and only keeps you enslaved to unconscious feelings of
victimization. Only Christ can fix you, if you
really believe that Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of Godand if you are willing to do everything it
to kneel before Him in awe and
1. A conflict refers
to the psychological fact that one part of your mind wants healing and health
and another part of your mind resists healing. This resistance usually derives
from two things. First, because you have been so mistreated by others, in
the depths of your unconscious you secretly believe that you are
worthless and dont deserve anything good.
Second, because you are so angry at others for
having mistreated you, you experience a certain unconscious satisfaction
in maintaining feelings of victimization so that
you can throw your pain back into their faces in
protest. Thus, to be psychologically and spiritually
healed you must recognize and resolve your conflicts
about healing itself.
2. I have learned through
both clinical practice and
research that back pain can be reduced profoundly
negative thinking, practicing
relaxation, and following an exercise and
weight loss program. Those persons who reject
(or drop out of) this treatment essentially reject the belief
that their own behavior can affect pain perceptionand so they remain
victims of circumstance, trapped in fear,
separated from the healing that Christ could bring
them if only they would believe in Him more than they believe in
their stomachs. So the choice is simple: use body fat to defend your identity
as a victimized child, or trust completely in Christ, understanding that
in exchange for your service to Him, He will defend
you from all that can threaten you.
3. In the ancient sense
of the word, victim means an animal offered in sacrifice. These
sacrificial animals, however, did not offer themselvesthey were taken
from the flocksand so, through the ages, the term victim became
unconsciously associated with the idea of someone who (a) loses something
against his will or (b) is cheated or duped by another. Consequently, in
modern secular society at least, the meaning of a holy victim has
been lost to us, and our use of the term victim carries with it all
the unconscious resentment we feel for being cheated, duped, or unfairly
treated. In essence, according to todays language, a victim is someone
who has been victimized.
And so, when we call someone a victim today we imply
that the person suffered unwillingly and unfairly; moreover, according to
modern sensibilities, we unconsciously assume that this injustice deserves
some compensation. If the compensation does not come freely, we demand it.
We sue. We protest. We even kill.
This very attitude, this bitterness and resentment for
having been treated unfairly, is the poison that prevents emotional wounds
In contrast, those who give the
pain to God free themselves from unconscious resentment and blame; in
letting their suffering joyfully flow through them in imitation of Christ
as the true holy victim, they choose not to feel victimized. No matter
what happens to them, they never lose the mystical peace of
healing through divine love.
4. The psychoanalyst
Jacques Lacan said, To believe
in? What does it mean? If not to believe in beings in so far as they
are able to say something. So, when we believe in Jesus, we
choose to listen to Him as the Word of God, knowing very well that He has
something to say to us. Therefore, to believe in Him, we believe
Himthats called love. In contrast,
when we believe in the world, we make of it an idol
that (we suppose) can speak to us. And God knows how much we
listen to the worlds entertainment rather
than listen to Him in prayer.
Lacan, Seminar of 21 January 1975. In Mitchell, J. & Rose,
J. (Eds.), Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école
freudienne (New York: W. W. Norton [paperback], 1985), p. 169.
5. Such as living in
chastity, praying constantly,
reading the Bible and Catechism, studying the writings
of the saints, stopping smoking, giving up
the need to be entertained by the worldand
losing weight! In short, everything recommended
in the Counsels of this website.
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.