Home

Introduction

Self-help

Doctrine

Prayer

Recommended Readings

Spiritual Counsels

Consultation

Questions and Answers

Subject Index

Contact Me

Related Links

Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Catholic Compassion

How to shift the emphasis on sin
to a  focus on healing.

 

Love  |  Fear  |  Guilt  |  Sexuality and Romance  |  Books  |  About CSF

 

Reprints of this article are available 
for yourself or for someone you know 

 
Compassion | Chastity | Responsibility | Serving the Self | Disobeying God | Same-sex Attraction | Identity | Obedience to False Authority | Duped | To Die in All Things | The Proof | The Call | Blessings

 

HE STOOD in silence, smoldering in anger at the smug self-assuredness of her accusers. She knew in her heart why she had committed such an act. Surrounded with hypocrites, she was angry with the world, and she was angry with God. She was fed up with the misery she had to endure and wanted some excitement, some satisfaction, some sense of something for herself.

Still, she felt a strange curiosity about that man squatting on the ground in front of her. “What is he going to do?” she wondered. She cast quick glances at him, yet she never caught him looking at her.

She waited for what seemed like an eternity. People were shaking their heads and walking away, muttering to themselves. She looked at him. He didn’t look at her. He just scratched in the dust with his finger.

Then, with a mysterious calmness, he looked up and asked her a question. She shrugged and shook her head, almost whispering, “No. No one sir.”

For the first time she felt him looking at her—not just at her, but into her. His next words stunned and confused her. “Neither do I condemn you.” Her heart quivered as it tried to comprehend what was happening.

Yes, what was happening? Call it compassion. But note something carefully. He had something else to say.

“Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

Many persons who retell this story neglect these final words. They try to make it seem that compassion amounts to a broad-minded acceptance of anything. But that misses the point.

Jesus came to us to save us from our sins. His mission was not to condone sin and pretend it didn’t exist. His mission was to show us how much we do sin, how much our sin hurts us, how much it hurts others, and how much we will lose if we persist in it. His mission was a mission of compassion: to call us away from sin and into holiness—to cause our hearts to quiver in doubt about our assuredness in our sin.

Moreover, as this story of A Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:1–11) makes clear, sexuality and sin are closely entangled. A holy life depends on sexual purity. A holy life calls us to chastity.

  
Chastity

Sin feels good. Period.

Sin gives us raw physical pleasure. It can be intense and intoxicating. But sin is not bad because someone in authority, for some arrogant and mysterious reason, says so. Sin is not bad because the Catechism says so. Nor is sin bad because it feels good. Sin leads you away from the goal of holiness and into the empty pleasures of merely feeling good. Sin misses the point of life.

God is the point of life, and, in regard to sexuality, He gave us genitals so that we could bring new life into the world. Note that we aren’t creators; God is the Creator and we are procreators—that is, we stand in the place of the Creator. Our genitals therefore serve the purpose of procreation [1]. They serve love by bringing children into the world who will learn to love Love—God Himself—to become love themselves.

Despite its intensity of feeling, sin defiles love. Sin is the hatred of love. Sin makes pleasure its own end, and so it ends in failure.

Still, sin feels good—and that points to the ultimate spiritual battle. Despite the throbbing intensity of sin’s attraction, we have to struggle against its pleasures and struggle to remind ourselves that, despite all the allure, sin is the hatred of love.

The battle against sin can be fought only with love, and chastity is one powerful weapon in our hands.

  

Chastity is not the repression of sexuality, it is the purifying transformation of desire into love.

  

As the full human response to divine love, chastity encompasses all the psychological, social, and physical consequences of accepting that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). In chastity we renounce lust, dress modestly, set aside our illusions about the “self”, and distance ourselves from—or, in scriptural language, die to—the corrupt social world in which we all live, to prepare ourselves for holy service in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

  

When every child is born, it is in danger of being devoured by the devil. Children conceived in lust are all that more vulnerable to demonic influence throughout their lives. If parents do not take their procreative responsibility seriously, they will be raising demon fodder, not children of God.

  

Chastity is not just an attitude toward human sexuality, it is the full acceptance of the human responsibility to the holy lifestyle that Christ preached—and lived in His body—and that contemporary society, in all its psychobabble about happiness and self-fulfillment, tries its best to subvert.

Chastity, then, is a way of life—the way of life, the only lifestyle, the only “orientation”—for anyone who would follow Christ and claim to be Christian. And woe to the soul that spurns chastity. Love is chaste, and to spurn chastity is to spurn love. If you spurn love, you will find that in the end you are left with nothing but everlasting broken emptiness. To spurn chastity is to spurn Christ Himself, who, in His real and physical suffering on the Cross—truly present to us in the broken bread of the Eucharist—offers the only means to heal our human brokenness. 

  

There is but one price at which souls are bought, and that is suffering united to My suffering on the cross. Pure love understands these words; carnal love will never understand them.

  

— as told to St. Faustina
(Diary, 324)

Chastity is also a choice, a choice of love. Moreover, just as chastity is a choice, the rejection of chastity is also a choice, a choice of hatred.[2] Those who ridicule the Church for its teachings about chastity, saying, for example, that the Church has a phobia about sexuality, are those who themselves have a phobia: the fear of choosing to live a holy life with all the suffering, all the sacrifices, and all the love a holy life entails.

Still, we have an obligation—an obligation that ensues from having chosen to follow Christ in the way of the cross—to not hate those who hate chastity, to not fear those who fear suffering, to not reject those who reject holiness itself. And even if they close their ears to our words, we have a compassionate obligation to pray that they might someday, before they die, make the choice to listen to, rather than reject, the Holy Spirit.

 
Responsibility

It was almost the end of his shift. He was off at noon that day; a game was on TV early that afternoon, and he wanted to get home as soon as possible. He saw the bag on the floor. There were several men standing by a distant window talking on their cell phones.
   “It’s a nice bag. It must belong to one of them,” he told himself, as he walked by.
   Later, as he was watching the game, he saw the news item: the bomb had killed and injured dozens of tourists.
   When he was called before his boss, he stammered, trying to justify his actions.
   “What do you mean, you didn’t think it was anything serious?” His boss glared at him. “We have procedures to follow! You’re fired! Get out of my sight!”

It’s a horrific story.

But what if this were your teacher, a priest—or you—who, having disregarded the Tradition of the Church, had to stand before Christ in final judgment?

Depart from Me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

  
Serving the Self

Because chastity is a matter of respect for our bodies, we must be responsible caretakers of our bodily sexuality. Saint Paul said (1 Corinthians 6:12–20) that a lack of respect for sexual and reproductive functions are offenses against one’s own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Psychologically, these offenses are acts of narcissism,[3] and narcissism, by definition, is the psychological defense of self-love.

Self-love, when reduced to a psychological defense, is a rupture with the divine because it offends true love: it places one’s self above love of God, Who made heaven and earth—including our bodies. The offense of self-love makes the temple into a brothel, so to speak.

Any activity that reduces the sexuality of the body to something no more than a form of entertainment is narcissism because it seeks to make yourself seen through your desire for another person. When you look at another person with desire, you do not see a soul enrobed in chaste beauty; you see only the exuberant fantasy that your aching throb of loneliness might be alleviated through someone’s body. Narcissism makes your pleasure in having your body fondled the focus of your satisfaction. It makes your pleasure in playing with the body of another person—turning God’s temple into your toy—into the focus of your satisfaction. That’s self-love placed above love of God, isn’t it?

So where does all this self-love placed above love of God  lead us? Well, let’s find out.

 
Disobeying God

In order to understand how friends, teachers, professors, the entertainment industry—and even priests—can lead you away from God, under the guise of “being compassionate,” consider how the serpent tempted Eve to disobey God (Genesis 3:1-6).

First, he led her to doubt God by making Him seem irrational: “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”

Then he led her to doubt that God was being honest with her: “You certainly will not die!”

Consequently, Eve saw that the fruit was good for food and looked really nice. It was natural, so it had to be good for her, she thought. So, persuaded by disobedience itself, she disobeyed God’s command and satisfied her desire.

Moreover, we continue to be tempted in the same way today by those who convince us to doubt God so that we will ultimately disobey God’s commands. Today, we are induced to look with desire at behaviors that separate us from a holy life, saying to ourselves, “How can there be anything wrong with something that seems so nice?”

Thus we are drawn away from God by so-called “well-meaning” persons who—as odd as it sounds to say it—lack compassion for us. They lack compassion for us because they seek only their own self-satisfaction.

  
Same-sex Attraction

The need for compassion and the danger of being led away from God find a particularly poignant merger in regard to feelings of same-sex attraction (SSA). These feelings can occur in children because of dysfunctional family dynamics that affect a child unconsciously.[4] For example, a girl whose mother jumps to conclusions and does not listen emotionally to her daughter, and whose father does not demonstrate an authority of competent justice tempered with considerateness, can be attracted to the emotional openness of another girl’s personality. Likewise, a boy whose mother tends to be angry, critical, and demanding, and whose father does not demonstrate an authority of emotional understanding, confidence, and protection, can be attracted to feelings of acceptance and protection from another boy. In these cases, the fantasies of attraction are not natural expressions of the girl’s or boy’s being; instead, the fantasies point to the psychological truth of what is missing in the family structure.

Having same-sex attraction fantasies, therefore, does not mean that a person is homosexual.

Consequently, children need competent, emotionally-sensitive psychological explanations of their feelings of same-sex attraction. But if children do not trust their parents to understand their confusing and embarrassing feelings, the children will be afraid to go to their parents for guidance. Thus, lacking any psychological resources, the children will be driven into shameful isolation and will eventually end up in the hands of political activists who, instead of offering psychological truth, will direct the children into a political agenda with its purpose of undermining the Catholic faith.

When this occurs, conditions are ripe for a crisis of identity.

 
Identity

Halloween. Mardi Gras. Masquerades. Our cultures are full of ways we pretend that we can change our identities by changing our outward appearances.

In times past, a person’s hat really did identify his profession. And even today we wear secular uniforms (uni- means “one” and form means “shape” or “outward appearance”)—as well as religious habits and liturgical vestments—which give one common appearance to all who perform a particular function.

Most of us, however, understand full well that a uniform, in itself, does not mean anything. Unless you have been trained to perform a job, no matter what uniform you put on you won’t be able to perform that job.

Nevertheless, there is one uniform which does define us absolutely and which can never be changed. This is the uniform of the body, and it defines us sexually, according to reproductive function.

Reproductive sexuality is a pure function of biology. The problems with sexual identity begin in the unconscious. Notice how children tend to believe that what is seen is real. If a child sees a man wearing a Santa Claus costume, the child will think, “That is Santa Claus.” In the same way as a child attributes reality to appearance, it often happens that individuals will unconsciously confuse their sexual functioning with the costumes which create a sexual appearance.

But the truth is that no matter what clothes you wear, no matter what kind of play you enjoy, no matter whom you choose as playmates, no matter how you act—no matter, even, how you might change your body surgically—you can never change your genetic reproductive reality.

So why, then, would anyone develop a desire to change a reality made by God? Well, even if you accept the reality of a non-gendered immortal soul, the basic facts of bodily life—reproduction and death—are still painful realities. These realities don’t mean anything; that is, they do not carry any mysterious secrets about life—they are just facts of life. A fantasy of changing your personal reality by changing your gender or your God-given heterosexual “orientation” derives from a misguided belief that your sexuality contains some mysterious, meaningful secret that will release you from the hard facts of social emptiness and death. But social emptiness and death are the result of separation from God, and no human effort can restore the soul’s union with God that is lacking in all of us. Only the divine grace of real love can lead a soul back to God.

Consequently, if you fail to recognize the inherent fraud of all social identity and cling to the belief that sexuality has any meaning apart from reproduction, you cling to an impossibility: the unconscious attempt to escape responsibility to genetic reproductive reality and, ultimately, responsibility to God Himself.

It would be far better to find your identity in something that never changes, something that can never be taken from you.

  

All flesh is like grass,
   and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
   and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever.

  

—1 Peter 1:24–25

 
Obedience to False Authority

Two guards lead you into a cold, harshly lit concrete room. The room is empty except for a man kneeling on the bare concrete, blindfolded, with his hands bound behind him. You recognize him as one of the terrorists who have been undermining your work. A military officer enters. He quietly removes the pistol from his holster. Holding it by the barrel, he hands it to you, glancing at the man kneeling on the floor.
   “Here. Take this. Put it to his head and pull the trigger.”
   You feel stunned, your mind momentarily paralyzed by the incongruity of the events.
   “Go ahead, take it,” the officer says. “Kill him. You have my permission.”

What would you do? If you are like most people, you will likely say that you would refuse. Fair enough. But what would you really do? What would you actually do in those particular circumstances? Well, if you are like most people, in those particular circumstances there is a good chance that—unless you have the same living depth of faith that allowed the Christian martyrs to not betray their Tradition—you would kill the man. 

Now, that’s a shocking statement. But consider two important social-psychological scientists from the 1960s and 1970s who investigated obedience to authority. In his experiments, Stanley Milgram found that ordinary adults would be quite willing to inflict horrifying electrical shocks to other persons when told to do so by an authority figure.[5] Philip Zimbardo, in the Stanford Prison Experiment,[6] found that when ordinary, “nice” students played roles of prisoners and guards, the situation quickly degenerated into demeaning inhumanity to such an extent that the experiment had to be called off.

Years later, Zimbardo wrote, “. . . ordinary people, even good ones, can be seduced, recruited, initiated into behaving in evil ways under the sway of powerful systemic and situational forces.” [7]

So think carefully. Raised Catholic, you now hear teachers and priests—as well as television, movies, music, video games, magazines, and newspapers—telling you, “Go ahead. If it feels good, do it. You have our permission.”

Yes, they give you their permission to do anything that makes you feel good—and they even insinuate that there must be something wrong with you if you do not comply. You are being duped.

 
Duped

Those who don’t understand the reality of the great spiritual battle against evil are being duped by an anti-Christian society into believing that lust and hatred have the power to redeem our emotional emptiness.

You are being duped especially by the entertainment industry, an industry that for decades has been working subversively to destroy Christian family values. Thanks to movies and television, the romantic illusion has become the sustaining hope of life; Christian faith has been depicted as contemptable hypocrisy; humility has been mocked as cowardice; hatred, revenge and violence have been extolled as virtues; power, strength, and cunning have been glamorized; foul language has become customary; women have been induced to forsake feminine modesty and dignity and to imitate masculine arrogance and aggression; and immodesty, nudity, fornication, and adultery have become routine behaviors.

Yes, you are being duped and brainwashed by the “progressive” liberal agenda of the entertainment industry into sanctioning the idea that sin does not exist, that religion is foolish, and that lust and violence are necessary for your happiness. It has all been going on openly right under your own nose, and you haven’t even noticed it. As a result, instead of taking personal responsibility to detach yourself from subversive social illusions, you willingly consume them, over and over. Sin enslaves you even as you are told that sin does not exist.

So what is your responsibility here? Well, you’re not responsible for others trying to dupe you, but you are responsible for learning the truth and resisting the subversive attempts of others to dupe you.

 
To Die in All Things

In its early years, the Church struggled against the opposition of the Roman government, which drew its identity and strength from pagan religious practices. Thus, when Saint Paul founded and visited churches, he had to remind the converts not to get caught up in the prevailing cultural norms.

For example, to the Ephesians, he wrote, “I declare and solemnly attest in the Lord that you must no longer live as the pagans do—their minds empty, their understanding darkened. They are estranged from a life in God because of their ignorance and their resistance; without remorse they have abandoned themselves to lust and the indulgence of every sort of lewd conduct.”

Then Saint Paul went on to remind the Ephesians that lewd conduct and lust were opposed to Christian conduct. He paused in reflection, perhaps thinking about those individuals in the community who had been preaching untruths and leading the Christians astray. Then he added, almost sarcastically, that he was supposing that when they learned about Christ, He had been preached to them and taught to them “in accord with the truth that is in Jesus” rather than in accord with prevailing cultural ideas about lust and the indulgence of every sort of lewd conduct.

What, then, is this “truth that is in Jesus”? Well, Saint Paul continued, it is the truth that “you must lay aside your former way of life and the old self which deteriorates through illusion and desire, and acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth.”

Or, stated in its most elegant simplicity, you must die in all things of human identity to have life in all things divine.

  

“Whoever knows how to die in all things will have life in all things.”

  

—St. John of the Cross
The Sayings of Light and Love, no. 160.

 
The Proof

The proof of all this is in Christ Himself.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

Did He cheat us or lie to us? No. Did He desire the death of His enemies? No. Did He use us for His sexual pleasure to find “happiness”? No. Instead He suffered for us, as an act of compassion and mercy. 

In His Passion He showed us what real love is: to will the good of others.[8] And in today’s world—this confused and broken world—love continues to manifest itself by calling us away from sin into holiness. The false “love” touted by contemporary society does not call us into anything but sin; instead it tempts us to abandon holiness for the sake of sensory feelings. But as long as you are concerned about what you can get from life, you will always be dissatisfied. Everything material—food, entertainment, drugs, masturbation, pornography, erotic pleasure in another person—passes quickly only to leave us overpowered by cravings for more.

Real love calls us into acts of sacrifice and giving—not the giving of material things that merely bribe others to like us, but the giving of qualities such as patience, kindness, understanding, mercy, forbearance, and forgiveness. These are compassionate qualities whose ultimate purpose is the salvation of other souls.

Christ calls us all to live lives of love, with Him, free from our own narcissistic identities. Thus Saint Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

 
The Call

You were dictated to and reasoned with. You feel emotionally misunderstood and lonely. You crave affection. You feel confused. Then you discover those who seem different. They’re free thinkers. They’re not afraid of the unusual. They call to you, “Come, be like us. We won’t reject you.”

You want to be understood. You want to feel appreciated. You want to belong.

But stop. Consider. Christ was misunderstood. Christ was rejected. Yet He never sought the approval of others. He brought truth. Many did not want it. Still, He called them—and He still calls us—to chaste purity in the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who wants it can attain it.

 
Blessings

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the parents who have died in all things, who keep their love for God as the entire reason for living, who pray constantly with their minds in their hearts, and who, for the sake of love, forsake the satisfaction of personal convenience and take the time and make the emotional sacrifices to dedicate themselves to providing their children with explanations, comfort, reassurance, protection, and guidance into the way of holiness. Blessed are the children who, for the sake of love, forsake the satisfaction of personal identity, the satisfaction of comforting themselves, the satisfaction of reassuring themselves, and the satisfaction of disguising narcissism and eroticism as love.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are those who, for the sake of love, forsake personal pride and choose to live in chaste purity of heart and take pride only in the Lord.

 

Order a bound copy of this article
for yourself or to give
to your family and friends

 

Who wrote this web page?
 

Notes.

1. Please note the word “open” in the phrase open to procreation. This is not to say that every sexual act must produce a child. It means that the fundamental meaning of sexuality is in its procreative function—rather than as something done for fun or sport or entertainment. To cast away the fundamental meaning of sexuality (as in masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, artificial birth control, etc.) is to fall into sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it this way: “. . . every action which . . . proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil ” (CCC 2370).

2. The spiritually negative emotion of hate does not necessarily mean a passionate loathing; it can just as well be a quiet, secret desire for harm to come upon someone or something. Hate can be a subtle thing, therefore, and it often is experienced more unconsciously than consciously. Consequently, it will often be very easy to deny that you feel any hatred for anyone at all.
     Note also that hatred and anger are theologically synonymous. Christ Himself taught the crowds, “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). And Saint John the Evangelist reflected this sentiment when he said, in one of his letters, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). The theological implication of these texts, therefore, is that any desire for harm to come to another person—whether through active loathing or through passive resentment—is, in its spiritual essence, an evil desire to remove the fullness of life (with its possibility of love and forgiveness) from that person. 

3. Narcissism, in its psychological meaning, refers to making oneself seen and noticed; its operations are concerned entirely with the self and its satisfactions, such that all motivation begins with the self and returns to the self.

  

“. . . The root of the scopic drive [i.e., the motivation to see and be seen—RLR] is to be found entirely in the subject, in the fact that the subject sees himself. . . . in his sexual member. . . . Whereas making oneself seen is indicated by an arrow that really comes back towards the subject, making oneself heard goes towards the other.”

See Jacques Lacan, “The Partial Drive and its Circuit” and “From Love to the Libido.” In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981, pp. 194–195).

  

Therefore, in contrast to this self-centered orientation of a narcissistic culture, Christ, Who is the Word, makes Himself heard by compassionately calling us out of ourselves, to listen to Him, and to follow Him. He is the good shepherd, the gatekeeper who opens the gate, “and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice ” (John 10:4). 

4. Those who do not understand the concepts of the unconscious—such as unconscious desire and unconscious anger—fear the unconscious, and so they take up the politically-correct ideology that we are “born with” our desires.

5. See Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371–378.
    Early in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram, a professor in social psychology at Yale University, conducted experiments about obedience. Although controversial by today’s ethical standards, the experiments revealed a dark side of human nature: many persons were quite willing to obey someone in an apparent position of authority even if such obedience meant inflicting severe pain on someone, even to the point of risking that person’s serious physical injury or death. Moreover, even though the experiments were themselves a deception (that is, the “electric shocks” the subjects administered to the victims were not real, and the “victims” were actually part of the experiment, only pretending to feel pain), many of the subjects suffered considerable disillusionment and trauma to discover that they had the capacity within themselves—in obedience to authority and peer pressure—to inflict such agonizing torment on another person. 

6. See P. Zimbardo. The Lucifer Effect. (New York: Random House, 2007).

7. Ibid., p. 443.

8. St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. I-II, 26, 4.

 


 
Recommended Reading
 
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips in book form.

 

Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility, children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.

Ordering Information

 

No advertising—no sponsor—just the simple truth . . .

For the sake of truth, this is a website with NO ADVERTISING.

If you find these pages to be informative and helpful, please send a donation in appreciation,
even if it’s only a few dollars, to help offset my costs in making this website available to you and to all.

Home

Imprimatur?                                           

Questions and Answers

Spiritual Counsels                                                         

INDEX of Subjects

SEARCH                                                       

Privacy Policy

Permissions Policy                                           

Contact Me

Consultation                                   

Chastity

In San Francisco?

www.ChastitySF.com

CATHOLIC PSYCHOLOGY

in association with
A Guide to Psychology and its Practice
 

 
Copyright © 1997-2016 Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
 

All material on this website is copyrighted. You may copy or print selections for your private, personal use only.
Any other reproduction or distribution without my permission is prohibited.
Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.