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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

But when the Son of Man comes,
will he find faith on earth?

—Luke 18:8

 

Catholic Psychotherapy  |  Spiritual Counsels  |  Books  |  About CSF

 
Detachment from the World | Dissent | Faith and Doctrine | Family Life | Forgiveness and Mercy | Guilt and Scruples | Hate Mail | Healing | Matrimony | Sexuality | Sin | Social Responsibility | Struggle for Holiness | Student Training | Miscellaneous

 

 
New Questions

 

(The most recent that are new or with new major revisions)

How long will I be troubled by temptations?  –  12 AUG 2017

Traditional Catholic or Sedevacantist?  –  9 SEP 2016

Hatred and apologies—and heresy  –  5 JUL 2016

Wanting to undo past sins  –  22 FEB 2016

Supreme Court decision about gay marriage  –  27 JUN 2015

When your spouse is BPD  –  22 APR 2015

Christian bakeries  –  9 APR 2015

Low self-esteem  –  19 MAY 2014

Unconscious anger and sin  –  18 NOV 2013

Paralyzed in a dysfunctional family  –  6 AUG 2013

Homosexuals’ right to marry  –  5 JUN 2013

Parental love for a child  –  18 JUN 2012

Honor your father and your mother  –  22 APR 2012

Why it’s important for women to wear a veil when praying  –  21 MAR 2012

When a priest disregards the rubrics  –  9 AUG 2011

Bullying and Revenge  –  21 APR 2011

Procrastination  –  6 APR 2011

The Original Protective Purpose of Psychological Defenses  –  2 JAN 2011

Lust in Marriage  –  29 NOV 2010

 
Hate Mail updated 26 APR 2014

 

 
Detachment from the World

1. 

Thank you for this website. You’ve saved my life, I think. . . . But none of the priests in my Church preaches these things. None of the parishioners lives this way, and none of my family and friends lives this way. What am I supposed to do now?

2. 

Why wasn’t I taught any of this in Church?

3. 

[I am preparing to enter an RCIA program, and everyday is a new test and I feel like I am failing every one of them. I feel like the tests are here to show me that I can’t do this. Even at Church today I felt helpless. The reading [Luke 9:51-62] was talking about the disciples of Jesus and I didn’t understand what was going on. What is He trying to tell me? . . . Why would Jesus not want us to bury our dead? . . .

4. 

Wait a minute. Christ never told us not to smoke or not to drink our diet colas. What does giving up these things have to do with a spiritual life?

5. 

What’s wrong with sports? Don’t they teach us fair play?

6. 

Is it possible to engage in sports without becoming overly competitive? Certain sports foster aggressive activity but others like ping pong seem to be less aggressive. What about playing board games such as “Monopoly” or “Trivial Pursuit” or various card games?

7. 

But can some forms of entertainment such as wholesome movies and classical music provide a momentary way to “chill out,” “escape,” or relax? What about watching religious programming such as EWTN? What about news programs? How do you suggest that people stay abreast of what is happening in the world around them?

8. 

Is it a sin to get a tattoo? Some of them are really bad, but what about flowers and nice things, or religious pictures? My daughter got one on her ankle, and I think it looks cute. I was thinking of getting one too.

9. 

This all sounds like that silly medieval idea of hating the world. What’s wrong with God’s creation?

10. 

. . . But how should we live with respect to our churches, our communities? . . . All this to say, it seems to me there is a certain value to secular education and even having some idea as to what is going on in the world today! . . .

11. 

. . . . While there is obviously Biblical merit to separating from sin and idolatry in the pursuit of God and realizing by faith our identity in Him, it is the draconian and ruthless manner in which I feel driven toward such separatism by what I perceive to be God’s Spirit that unsettles and repulses me. . . .

12. 

I’m not certain I could live up to the standards of living you have mentioned. I’m wondering if you have to be born inherently good in order to live that righteously. (That feels like too strong a word, but the only one that comes to mind.)

13. 

...How can I find guidance if the odds are so pathetic I’m going to find a priest who truly practices the faith? ...my greater fear is how would I know that I’m not placing my trust in an abuser/rapist? Even if he is not exploitative to me, personally.

14. 

. . . although I want to grow spiritually, I am afraid because I have been overwhelmed by the cross and God did not give any respite despite my call to Him and at the back of my mind there is this thought: If I grow closer to God, I will be given a heavier cross. I don’t think I can take any more crosses. The saints are made of hardier stuff than me.

15. 

You write that saints love in a real way meaning they give up all carnal things in the world, even identification about themselves, even anger at God which is a human emotion at times. Then, your psychology website consistently talks about acknowledging human feelings or emotions to heal fragmentation but on the other hand, you write that feelings of simple love, defenses, bribery, victim thinking, etc. are illusions opposed to real love. So what are saints giving up if everything in the world is an illusion and that our very humanness itself is to be denied as an illusion?

16. 

Every time I say the Our Father I wonder what it means, “Lead us not into temptation.” Would God be that mean to us to tempt us? I’ve never heard an explanation that isn’t just a fancy cover up of what seems to be the obvious yet shouldn’t be.

17. 

Does nakedness of spirit mean no pretension or motivation other than God’s will? Does spiritual purgation mean to take out of motivation or understanding all things of self motivation?

18. 

. . . what about friends? How do they fit into a devout life?

 

 
Dissent

1. 

You’re nuts. Who would ever want to do something this foolish?

2. 

Lies! Your unscientific blathering makes you just a whore of the archaic and deluded. I’m proud to be homosexual! GAY PRIDE!!!

3. 

You’re a psychologist and ostensibly trained in modern science, yet in some places on this website you speak disparagingly about science. What’s wrong with science?

4. 

Where do you get the things you say on your website? The Catechism tells us that it’s not a sin to fight wars and defend ourselves, and Pope John Paul II even blessed athletes. How do you justify yourself?

5. 

Aren’t psychologists merely using psychology as their own psychological defense? Psychologists seem so quick to call the inferior behavior of others out, but in reality they are running from their own emotional confusion by an incessant drive to be in control of the minds and emotions of themselves and others. . . .

6. 

Someone forwarded to me your discussion of voting, and in my opinion much of what you have written is very useful and fully in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic Church. I would commend to you, however, some consideration of . . . [etc.].

7. 

Your site has a feeling of being quite JUDGMENTAL. I know you quote a great deal from the Catechism, but I believe that today we ARE a bit more open as our world has changed? . . .

8. 

I certainly respect your views although I must disagree with the belief that gay men and women of good faith are restricted to a celibate way of life in attempting to fulfill their baptismal vows. . . .

9. 

I have to say that for me and, I believe, for many other [religious], there exists an even greater benchmark than the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. We used to speak of a well-formed conscience and a pure heart shaped by prayer and the love of God. . . .

10. 

I feel sorry for your clients unless their [sic] all cloistered monks and nuns, they only would be able to meet your ridged [sic] demands and I doubt they would agree with you. . . .

11. 

I can’t believe what I just read. I am a Catholic and a psychotherapist. I think you need to step into the present and out of the dark ages. . . .

12. 

How do you live in San Francisco and have such a trite understanding of feminism? Catholicism makes little room for the thinking woman or for that matter the thinking man. . . .

13. 

. . . [If Jesus] had been free to choose women as apostles, it’s unlikely the “infallible” Church would have been harboring male target pedophiles for centuries—protecting them over children—(What would Jesus have done, do you think?)—and now facing its own stubborn disintegration. . . .

14. 

Has anyone ever told you you come across like a rigid fundamentalist hell fire and brimstone preacher? Jesus shows compassion for human frailties even to those who don’t deserve it.

15. 

I have read your Guide to Psychology and your Chastity websites. A friend told me about them but there seems to be quite a difference in response to questions. Psychology shows empathy and concern while the other seems conditional and almost impatient with the process. Why is there such a difference in response? . . .

16. 

I would rather give up on the daily Eucharist, if it means that I can have my soul and my psyche revived in a different church—everyone claims to have “theeee one true doctrine” —someone’s gotta be lying. . . .

17. 

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

18. 

All you Catholics do is worship saints and statues. I left the Catholic Church for that reason.

 

 
Faith and Doctrine

1. 

All of this sounds like medieval theologians arguing about whether chewing on a blade of grass breaks a fast. What’s the point of nitpicking?

2. 

Why wasn’t I taught any of this in Church?

3. 

But aren’t all religions the same?

4. 

I am having a problem with laziness in Mass attendance and this is frightening me. I start and stop in my prayer life and Mass attendance. . . .

5. 

In John 12:32 Jesus says, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” How can one understand these words when so many people die without even having heard about Jesus, and if so many people die within so many non-Christian religious denominations. . . .

6. 

Then can anyone be saved outside the Church?

7. 

Well, then, are we justified by faith or by works?

8. 

It seems to many of my rather wealthy friends, that . . . when a baptized person sins—any sin—that sin is only concupiscence. . . . [and that if] we are called sons and daughters of God as a fact, and not as an honorary title, how can God send his very own children to hell to suffer unspeakable tortures for ever and ever and ever?

9. 

What do the mystics say about prophecy? What about Biblical predictions of the “End Times”? I hear so many conflicting things about this that I don’t know what to think..

10. 

. . .[someone] swears to me, though, now he has accidentally opened/gone into a “box” inside and has a battle going on with not only demons, but he speaks with Lucifer himself. . . .

11. 

. . . perhaps what started out as a trip to Medjugorje made out of curiosity, or some more shallow emotion, a desire to see Our Lady perhaps, a need to “feel good” even . . . at least that soul has gone out of its way, to draw closer to Christ somehow. Their soul is hungry for something and they are trying to find food, even if it is cotton candy. . . .

12. 

. . . I do think it is very possible that the holy water we find in many churches today, does not include the exorcism that was used by better informed priests of former times. The devil is not as real as he once was to many, and so perhaps in consequence the lengthy exorcisms are seen as unnecessary? . . .

13. 

Recently, I heard a discussion on the radio about whether or not homemade hosts, with eggs and sugar and so on, were acceptable. There was a priest who said that such hosts made the Mass invalid. Well, what about all the people that day? What happened to them? Did Christ deny them His presence. . . .

14. 

Please explain the difference between a miracle where God interferes with free will and when God just allows something evil to happen because of choice. . . .

15. 

I read Little Cindy’s Letters per your recommendation on the website, and I was a little disturbed by Rob’s handling of the Marian consecration part. . . .It almost seemed to imply that Marian consecration was a distraction to following Christ fully and his logic for asserting possible demonic consecration instead was a little bizarre.

16. 

I will be having a debate regarding celibacy and our side is not in favor of practicing the vow of celibacy. Can you share with me points and views that I can use to be able to defend our side?

17. 

What do you think of Cursillo? My priest wants me to go through it and commit to having group meetings in our parish. He will be one of the spiritual directors. Several people in our diocese have asked me to be involved as well.

18. 

I tend to prefer the traditional Mass, but I also accept the Novus Ordo Mass. I agree with you when you talk about abuses in the Novus Ordo Mass. But I have had people use Matthew 23:27 (“on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing”) to justify abuses (not their word!), saying that we should be concerned with the intent of things, not with “obsessive” ceremonies. What does this Biblical passage really mean?

19. 

I feel like I am becoming an “Angry Trad” and I know this is not what God wants. I wonder why does this issue make me so mad. Life is about the salvation of souls right? Not about arguing endlessly over externals in the Liturgy. Why do I feel the need to constantly learn every argument to protect myself in case I am questioned about it? Why do I feel I must fight for this and why do I get so angry about it? I feel that the issue while being about the liturgy is important my overwhelming anger about it points to something much deeper and I am wondering if you have any insight as to what that might be?

 

 
Family Life

1. 

I’m a devout Catholic, but my adult children have fallen away from the Church. I pray for them, but is there anything else I should be doing?

2. 

I am desiring to seek assistance for my family. Right now it is for my 10 year old son. It is a long story but to come to the present my son is not acting normally. I believe he can be but is showing abnormal behavior I believe because of emotional problems, mainly because of our home environment. . . .

3. 

[Recently] my husband started to yell at our son and I tried to stop it. It ended up with his becoming angry yelling and accusing me. . . . What I was trying to settle turned out worse. . . . My husband makes it like nothing ever happened and life goes on. . . .

4. 

I have been married to a Baptist for 10 years. I began the marriage very blind and lost, but have come to know and love the Catholic faith over the course of those years. My husband was severely physically abused by his father as a child. He is critical, quick-tempered and seems to always be looking for a reason to be angry and frustrated. We have 5 daughters and I worry about what this will do to them emotionally. . . .

5. 

My son (age three) has “discovered” masturbation. . . . How do you recommend I handle this situation. . . .

6. 

I am starting to feel resentment toward the catholic church. . . . Let me explain, I am a good person (or so I like to think) but I do not have alot of money. I try very hard to make sure my children are brought up the right way. We use to go to church every sun or sat night as a family. But then I was told I don’t put enough money in my envelopes . . . .

7. 

I am a lawyer and father of six. I am thus very occupied most of the time. I know being holy is for all the faithful and I strive to incorporate prayer and penance throughout my day, revolving around the Eucharist. My question is: Are the ascetical practices of St. John of the Cross, as you mention on your website, meant for all or only for the few religious who can devote their entire life to them. . . .

8. 

Concerning the lawyer: if you had six kids, what would you do? Are you married? Do you have kids. . . .

9. 

Lawyer: most likely the lawyer is training his children well but I give up. So what happens now if parents messed up their children? Is it a life sentence to hell?

10. 

I have always forgiven, you have no idea for how many things. What I really need . . . is how to love myself enough to stop the feelings that I keep stuffing down in order to NOT hurt others. . . .

11. 

I have been dealing with a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder for a long time. . . .

 

 
Forgiveness and Mercy

1. 

Why be so strict? We’re only human, and we all make mistakes. God is love, so God will forgive everything in the end anyway.

2. 

. . . I seem to be having the . . . problem of being unable to forgive and to trust.

3. 

Then why do we say Kyrie, eleison—“Lord, have mercy”?

4. 

[What about the need] to know yourself and love yourself? Many can’t love themselves so they use the love of God instead. . . .

5. 

I want to know about the concept of reprobation and predestination. Is that something that can be understood?

6. 

I go to confession to feel good about myself. Why do you recommend confession to begin the treatment?

7. 

I was taught that anger is a bad thing. I’ve had an abusive childhood but it is hard to feel any anger about it because I feel guilty and afraid about offending God or blaming my parents.

8. 

My life has been a mess. Debauchery and perversion too bad to put in writing. A couple years ago, in my late-40s, I “saw the light” and converted to the Catholic Church. Your website is a gem. But whenever I try to talk about this to anyone, it’s just like you say: “indifference, ingratitude, and contempt.” What am I supposed to do? I’m running out of patience. . . .

9. 

I am confused about Saint Faustina. I am reading her book . . . and I am confused about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I really thought it was Saint Margaret Mary that Jesus asked to bring the image of His heart to us. But Saint Faustina’s book makes me think He gave it to her. Were they both given the image? Did they live at the same time? I don’t understand.

10. 

I read Bishop Knecht’s commentary on the 10 virgins. I understand what he is saying about the story itself. What I am not getting is how it compares with stories of God’s mercy. . . .

 

 
Guilt and Scruples

1. 

[Through much of my life] I was convinced (and I still struggle with this issue) that I could not turn to God. After all, isn’t it a teaching of the Church that if one isn’t in the state of grace, then one’s prayers are worthless (except the prayers asking for the grace of repentance). . . .

2. 

You say that forgiveness from God is there waiting for my acceptance. . . . Who’s to say, that as long as I accept God’s forgiveness for my past, that I won’t do something just as horrible tomorrow and ask for forgiveness and then say the same thing. . . .

3. 

I am beginning to realize that I need some professional help . . . . I have lived outwardly as a “normal person” (others even see me as an outgoing, cheerful, fun person) while interiorly hiding terrible guilt feelings and mental anguish. I do not dare tell anyone the truth about me, that I have lived with secret interior misery and despair. . . .

4. 

. . . . I recently visited [your website] to see if you had anything about excessive anxiety, as I tend to struggle with that. I am a very scrupulous person, and . . . I tend to agonize over the state of my soul. So to be presented immediately with the phrase [b]ut by continuing in your self-sabotaging behavior you show that you would prefer to send yourself to hell just to prove to someone how much he has hurt you was just about enough to give me a heart attack. . . .

5. 

. . . what is the Penitential Rite all about when Catholics proclaim: that I have sinned through my own fault . . . in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do. By being passive (not saying “No,” or not defending your own self) in a sexual assault incident, sodomy, or rape—whatever you call it—isn’t that failing to do something on your own stupidity, before the eyes of God, as well as to yourself?

6. 

. . . I let the fears that I will be yelled at in confession and/or refused absolution keep me from it. (I have intense panic attacks over the whole confession experience.)

 

 
Hate Mail

  

[Miscellaneous hate mail. Pray for the enlightenment and repentance of these souls lost in hatred and feelings of victimization.]

 

 
Healing

1. 

How does one “give the pain to God”? Simply by praying those words? How does one heal? What does “healed” mean—pain doesn’t simply go away. It is the process of healing that I do not understand.

2. 

I have been hearing some priests talk about temperment recently. How useful a concept is this in psychology? Can it help me get along better with other people if I know what their temperment is?

3. 

Too many bad things have happened to me in my life to trust God. What did I do wrong? The reality is that God has abandoned me. How can I trust a God who never answered my prayers?

4. 

. . . why in spite of my attempts to get in touch with my anger and my own attempts to face my OCD fears, do I still have this problem? Are there other spiritual reasons for OCD that you see from what I write below. . . .

5. 

I am from an alcoholic family, had my own problems with alcohol, married an alcoholic. i believe God helped me to no longer desire alcohol. i have been told by counselor that i am codependent and should go to al-anon. have been for awhile but cant seem to stick with it. what do you think of aa and al-anon. . . .

6. 

I am a Presbyterian minister, and found your comments and statements very illuminating in my study of the book of Jonah. When I preach through a book, I always try to ask “why” questions, to get beyond the surface issues to the truth that sometimes hides on a deeper level. Jonah is certainly a book about following God’s direction and leading, but I wanted to know why Jonah made so many suicidal references in this short book. . . .

7. 

. . . The question came up, “What, then, is the purpose in suffering, and healing (or lack of it)?” . . . . I believe, especially in Job’s case, the point to which God was driving Job was to recognize the self-righteousness under which he was living. . . .

8. 

I don’t understand the story of Jephthah and his daughter. Why did God stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac but then allow Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter? It doesn’t seem fair.

9. 

I . . . wonder about evil. It would be easy to say the devil made me do it!

10. 

I could write a long list of things I need to change. Every sin that I cling to and every temptation that I face knows I am an easy target. I am amazed that I am not an alcoholic or a drug addict. I can’t control myself. The list would be never-ending, I think. There are a lot of reasons for me to hate myself. And I am trying to fix me. I just can’t seem to do it. . . .

11. 

Would Jesus the shepherd see the lost sheep as an unworthy sheep for wandering off? If Jesus thought so he might scold the sheep without loving him and caring for his wounds. Maybe then Jesus would give up and leave the sheep there to die lost in his pain. Maybe the sheep needs many lessons of love from Jesus so he will not keep wandering off away from the shepherd. . . .

12. 

. . . How about talking directly about Carl Rogers and his effect on the Catholic Church. Leave out the hell, fire and brimstone and give a logical explanation of how the humanistic, person centered theory doesn’t work in the Church. . . .

13. 

. . . 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. . . .

14. 

. . . . I don’t understand why God doesn’t heal amputees, and, as always, I am on the fence on the issue of religion.

15. 

I have read your information on DID, and what nags at me is whether or not this disorder is ever able to be fully cured. . . .

16. 

Especially around the anniversary of 9-11 we keep hearing about good coming out of evil acts. How can that be? How can good ever come from evil, especially, in particular, evil sexual acts when they have changed someone’s life forever?

17. 

The Church is strict about respect for life at any stage. What about the proposed policy by the Bishops to excuse a priest for ruining the life of just one child through sexual abuse? How is that showing respect for life? Isn’t that a contradiction and cop out by the Church?

18. 

How do you get well if you don’t even know you are sick?

 

 
Matrimony

1. 

What then are the odds that we will find, and recognize, another who is at the same point, or at least of the same will, so that we engage in a healthy relationship? And if we don’t, then what becomes of the yearning to generate and nurture a union that is more than the sum of two individuals?

2. 

On the subject of purpose of marriage (procreation), how does it affect a married couple whose children have grown and the wife is no longer of child-bearing age? . . .

3. 

What about the marriage then, as a holy union, especially when procreation is not possible?

4. 

In Catholic marriage which emphasizes procreation, what about an older couple creating a holy union in marriage that includes a life of love in serving God together in the Church but where sexual pleasure is still an obvious consideration?

5. 

Lust in marriage?

9. 

How do we reconcile Saint Paul’s words 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.

7. 

I am a 34 year old female, married for seven years. We have no children and we have never used birth control. . . . Can it be that some of us are called to things other than parenthood?

8. 

Do you think that . . . a couple pleases God by making love within marriage when they don’t desire or intend any more children? Or do you agree that a couple which wishes truly to please God should (mutually, of course) put sex aside out of their lives after the birth of the last child, and concentrate their energies on their and their children's salvation?

9. 

Would you say that sex exists primarily for procreation and family not any kind of self-fulfillment? The pleasure aspect of sex being an accidental part of procreation used primarily for ego-building?

10. 

. . . I wonder if you could give some clear guidance about divorce and remarriage in the Church. . . .

11. 

. . . All the holiness and life in perfection is worth nothing compared to the gift of having [one’s] own child. Even if the child and the mother both suffer to hell and back. . . . my empty life, filled with religion, is pitiful misery. . . .

12. 

. . . I’ve been a stay at home mom since my first son was born, but I want to go back to school (not immediately, but in the next couple of years) and slowly (one class a semester) work on my Masters so I can eventually become a therapist. But this would most likely mean no more kids. This causes a lot of fear for me that I’m letting God down (the same God I can barely believe exists). . . .

13. 

I . . . fear that I’ll go to hell if I don’t follow these rules, fear that if I do follow the rules and refrain from sex my marriage will suffer severely (my husband would not tolerate no sex), fear that if I do keep getting pregnant I’ll be even more overwhelmed than I am now. And I fear how all of this will affect the kids I do have.

14. 

I have had a nightmare marriage. My husband has been condescending in non-stop ways. I have been henpecked and could do nothing right. He has disciplined me in front of the children. . . . I feel he is oversexed and does not understand the word “No” in bed. . . .

15. 

I have long suspected my husband suffers from BPD. He can be sweet and loving at times, but all I have to do is disagree with him about something and a mask of rage and hatred comes over him. He then viciously attacks and devalues me, and afterward never shows any remorse for the wounding he caused me. . . .

19. 

I’m . . . married over 20 years, have [several] great kids and a wonderful wife. Here’s the deal: For the past 27 years I have not been able to stop thinking about my high school girlfriend. . . .

17. 

Is it adultery when a husband fantasizes about pornography before or during sex? Should the wife have to comply with his wishes? . . .

18. 

My husband is living with another woman and is, of course committing adultery. What is the catholic doctrine in regards to me having sex with my husband while he is committing adultery? . . .

19. 

Why does the 9th Commandment say, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife?” Why doesn’t it also say, husband or spouse in general?

20. 

I recently met a man who says I’m a gift from God to him. But his wife divorced him almost 20 years ago and I’ve been told I can’t marry him in the Catholic Church. It’s not fair. Why would the Church be obsessed with what happened 20 years ago?

20. 

I am quite comfortable without marriage. What do I need a husband for? I can still have children with my partner.

 

 
Sexuality

1. 

What does “the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” mean, and how does this impact on your ideas about chastity and human sexuality?

2. 

I don’t know the difference between modesty and the desire to be “invisible” based on insecurity and fear.

3. 

I know many gays and lesbians who are very nice persons. So why should they be rejected by the Catholic Church?

4. 

What’s wrong with sex? God created me the way I am, with all my desires. Celibacy is just a medieval attempt by the Church to repress homosexuality.

5. 

But sex is natural. How can you deny that?

6. 

Do you have any thoughts on sexual feelings during prayer?

7. 

Can you explain something about the theological meaning of the orgasm, especially the female orgasm?

8. 

About a year ago I went to confession and confessed masturbation and looking at pornography and the number of times, also going to communion before confessing these sins. My priest told me that it was not a mortal sin in my case because it was leading me towards love and I should continue to take communion. . . .

9. 

I am getting overly upset about society’s portrayal of women as sex objects. . . . This is, obviously, having a negative effect on my current relationship. I am interested in self-help. . . . I don’t want the “easy way,” I want the cold hard truth.

10. 

I was sexually abused by my father and raped by my uncles. Now I’m a Lesbian, and I know that God loves me.

11. 

I was exposed to pornography as a child. . . . I was a frequent masturbator. . . . Between 1996 and 2001, I engaged in a series of regrettable sexual acts. . . I am asking you if I pose a danger to society and if so what I steps I should be taking to put an end to that danger. I am also asking for some guidance as to any steps that I should be taking to deal with the above noted pattern of behavior.

12. 

. . . what do you think of [changing sexual orientation with psychotherapy]. I suffer from a male identity problem and have homosexual tendencies and have been tormented with this secret condition all my life and want to seek help but don’t know how? . . .

13. 

I woke up during the night because I felt an odd sort of external presence around me, an eerie presence, like evil and seductive, that felt like it was smothering me, and I couldn’t move or protect myself because my body felt completely paralyzed. Can you explain what this was all about?

14. 

I know the Church has this thing about not using condoms, but what’s the best way to stop AIDS, psychologically speaking?

15. 

How do I undo a vow of celibacy? I made a personal vow not to have sexual relationships but it is too hard to keep. Now I am miserable. What can I do now?

16. 

Why do religious and clerics have such a hard time with celibacy?

 

 
Sin

1. 

Does not all sin come from woundedness? It seems that each time I self-examine for sin, what I find is tied to my own woundedness. So, is it really to be guilty over or simply to be healed?

2. 

What is an unforgivable sin? Is it the same as a sin against the Holy Spirit?

3. 

But what if we were taught, more often than not, how to be kind to one another through charity? Don’t you think sin would then take a back seat? Reading about sin all of the time is depressing. . . .

4. 

. . . . I wonder about the [Bible] passage that says to let your anger “be without sin.” Then it talks about wrath and not letting the devil work on you. What does that all mean? I thought wrath was sin, so what is “anger without sin”?

5. 

Recently I went to Confession and told the priest about the difficulty I’m having in trying to stop smoking. The priest told me to think of it like the thorn in the flesh mentioned by Saint Paul. I like this explanation because it gives me permission to keep smoking. . . .

 

 
Social Responsibility

1. 

It is obvious that we live in very sinful times and are bombarded with encountering people with no knowledge or with antipathy of the teachings of Christ and His Church.  Now, during my social interaction with others, when am I bound, under pain of mortal sin, to admonish sinners, correct them, and tell them that this or that is wrong in the eyes of God? . . .

2. 

Reading across the different responses on your Q&A to questions concerning social issues, I am a little confused about what exactly we should be doing about the abortion issue . . .

3. 

By today’s contemporary ideas in self help psychology such as making personal choices and the victimization of women etc., who is responsible for the fall of “man,” Adam or Eve as it reads in the Bible? How is today’s psychology the same or different from what the Bible says?

4. 

In my culture we have the concept of honor, and if someone insults me or my family, I won’t take it.

5. 

What about terrorism? Surely we have a legal right to avenge ourselves.

6. 

But there are real social problems that need to be fixed. I need to be involved in the fight. How else will anything get accomplished?

7. 

Then what about peace on earth? How will there be peace if we don’t work to make it happen?

8. 

. . . but the Bible is filled with stories of war. The Israelites defended themselves with God’s approval.

9. 

I think, however, that your comments on the futility of protest are wrong and are not in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. . . .

10. 

. . . .can a lone person make much impact with people whose minds are already closed?

11. 

. . . Should the Church issue moral guidelines on how to potentially mitigate damage to others if a person is already intent on committing mortal sins, for example, by using condoms to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS?. . . .

12. 

I have wondered how you have been doing in San Francisco with the absurdities now taking place with the marriage licenses. . . .

13. 

What are we to do about the elections when every candidate is a liberal? But the Church tells us we have to vote, doesn’t it?

 

 
Struggle for Holiness

1. 

I discovered your Web site . . . in the way almost all gold mines are discovered — that is, while looking for something else. What I had (perhaps foolishly) hoped to find was hard and fast rules about the competency of a person to give spiritual direction, and that is because I am distressed over the last meeting I had with my own spiritual director. . . . perhaps . . . my director is being controlled by his own flaws.

2. 

. . . I see [my current confessor] . . . maybe twice a week (he said to call him anytime I need to) to confess my failing in relation to the issue of impurity and he gives me absolution after a decent chat. . . . In short, I think we are becoming a little too close, and that we may be using confession as a way of making up for a lack of close friendships. I also question the theological integrity of his advice about impurity. . . .

3. 

While I was at college, I had a professor (a Benedictine Monk) tell us that homosexual acts are not condemned by the Bible. . . . Once I heard this from the monk, I allowed my curiosity to go further and was involved with a girl for about 7+ months. . . . Please let me know what you think—could I be a candidate for religious life or not?

4. 

I live a spiritual life in my own way. Why go to church? It’s just filled with hypocrites anyway.

5. 

. . . when it comes to [speaking in] tongues, I myself have never desired to pray in this way, but I cannot condemn another if God inspires them, and I mean a genuine inspiration. But what is real and what is false? What is the Holy Spirit and what is simply human emotion trying to find satisfaction in the wrong places? . . .

6. 

You talk about masochism on the psychology website, but isn’t masochism the same as humility? If not, what is the difference?

7. 

[My abusive mother] . . . was an immaculate housekeeper and I’m not. When I’m at home, I’m either reading or writing, and keeping house and washing dishes just isn’t on my radar screen until it’s absolutely necessary. . . . Do you have any comments about this?

8. 

In reading Through the Eyes of Jesus I keep encountering the hand holding during prayer, which is the Protestant approach to prayer, at least it has been as long as I can remember, and one that has pained me even as a child. . . . But then even Catholics today pray more and more this way . . . I was nudged repeatedly in the ribs when I refused to hold hands during the Our Father. . . .

9. 

[I am preparing to enter an RCIA program, and everyday is a new test and I feel like I am failing every one of them. I feel like the tests are here to show me that I can’t do this. Even at Church today I felt helpless. The reading [Luke 9:51-62] was talking about the disciples of Jesus and I didn’t understand what was going on. What is He trying to tell me? . . . Why would Jesus not want us to bury our dead? . . .

10. 

I continue to question why you stay in California. It seems every day I hear more and more about what distressful things are coming out of that State. . . .

11. 

Have you . . . read anything on St. Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises—especially discernment of spirits? . . .

12. 

I saw a TV program the other day where a group of religious and non-religious people were discussing faith and mental health. A psychologist mentioned the harmful effect it can have on some adolescents and in some cases it can be linked to OCD. . . .

13. 

I wonder about God’s need to have us praise him. It’s in the Gloria, in the Te Deum, and in a lot of the Psalms. Sometimes it makes me think of God like an insecure Third World dictator who needs praise to make himself feel powerful.

 

 
Student Training

1. 

. . . . Your approach to psychological healing is precisely what I feel called to do, and I was hoping you might have some advice or insight on graduate programs you have experienced or would recommend for consideration.

 

 
Miscellaneous

1. 

Protesting PayPal?

2. 

Why do you use dream interpretation? I don’t dream.

3. 

Over the past few days and years, I have realized number connections with my dreams and certain phrases that come to my mind. I don’t make numbers a religion, of course, but I don’t fully understand why these things happen in my unconscious. . .

4. 

Recently I heard about a case of child abuse in which an infant was killed by the mother’s boyfriend. Someone asked me what will become of the infant’s soul, because the infant had not been baptized. What should I say?

5. 

I have been having a lot of death thoughts. . . . I have become obsessed with death.

6. 

By the way, I’m curious—what do you think of the Potter and Tolkien fantasy books?

7. 

What do you think about Medjugorje? A lot of people have gone there, and I was wondering if I should go.

8. 

How could God have allowed the [space shuttle] Columbia disaster? These were good people, with families, doing good work for science and their countries.

9. 

How come the media hasn’t covered sexual abuse in Protestant churches? How is it different from sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?

10. 

What if we don’t feel happy all of the time and what if we don’t want to spend money? Should we feel guilty about that, like we are not helping our country? . . .

11. 

What is money?

12. 

What happens after following your spiritual counsels for 3 months? I mean, will I need psychotherapy?

13. 

What are your standard office policies?

14. 

What sort of education and training do you have?

 

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