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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

The Vanity of Protest

You can’t carry your cross
if you’re carrying resentment.

 

Catholic Psychotherapy  |  Spiritual Counsels  |  Books  |  About CSF

 
Compensation for Injury | To Condemn the World | For the Sake of Love | A World Littered with Corpses | A Quiet Refusal, Not a Public Protest | The Real Battle

 
WHENEVER children are hurt, for whatever reason, some part of them cries out, “Stop, or I’ll die!” Then, through the tears, a desire for some form of recognition and compensation takes shape. A piece of food, a piece of candy, a piece of money—whatever it might be—brings the teary, blurred world back into focus. Death fades away and life resumes.

That’s the way it works for children.

Therefore, even as adults, there will always be a child-like part of us that seeks some recognition of our pain and some compensation for any hurt we suffer. We will say, “Why me? This isn’t fair!” We will feel like innocent victims being persecuted by the world. We will point our fingers in blame. 

 
To Condemn the World

Like Hamlet holding a mirror up to his mother,[1] the person feeling victimized will seek to show the world its own face as “evidence” that, he hopes, will condemn the world for its own injustice.

Hamlet appealed to his mother, lost as she was in her own vain deception, hoping that she would recognize her sin. But where was his father? Dead, and seeking revenge. Receiving small satisfaction from his mother, Hamlet therefore took matters into his own hands. And so a play about revenge ends on a stage littered with corpses.

And so when we march in the streets and in picket lines, whom do we hope will see us? Whose gaze do we seek psychologically? Just as Hamlet appealed to his deceived mother, perhaps we, frustrated with the injustices of the world, unconsciously appeal to our own deceived mother—to Eve herself? And all the while we wage our futile protest, holding up a mirror to the Mother of Disobedience, the devil snickers in the background.

Where, then, is our Father? Well, unlike Hamlet’s dead father, our Father is everywhere, a living God, witnessing everything. What injustice can occur that God has not already seen? And in His Passion and death, did not Christ experience personally every injustice known to humanity? And did He not endure all injustice with prayer, forbidding us to take revenge?

  

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.

  

—1 Peter 2:23

 
For the Sake of Love

A child copes with life by trying to get others to change their behavior, so as to make things more manageable for himself. Persons of mature wisdom, however, cope with life by patiently enduring suffering—without hatred and without anger—for the sake of love itself: to be filled with love and to sow seeds of that love in the world around them.

The agents of evil, therefore, choose protest—and terrorism—as their choice weapons, but the humble and the just can say, “My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

 
A World Littered with Corpses

Therefore, if we choose to listen to a living Father, rather than a dead one, we will learn to pray, rather than protest. We will pray in faith, trusting in divine justice, rather than take matters into our own hands only to die in a world littered with corpses.

  

How long, O LORD? I cry for help but You do not listen! I cry out to You, “Violence!” but You do not intervene. Why do You let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.
 
Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

  

—Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4

 
A Quiet Refusal, Not a Public Protest

Even though we have an obligation to respect civil authority, there are limits to this respect. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this perfectly clear: “The citizen is obligated in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons, or the teachings of the Gospel” (§ 2242).

This philosophy has its support from the Old Testament. For example, in the book of Esther we have the story of Mordecai who refused to kneel and bow down to a king’s servant. In the book of Daniel we have the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship the golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar had made (Daniel 3:1–97). In the same book we also have the story of Daniel himself who was thrown into a lion’s den for refusing to follow a law prohibiting prayer to any god or man except the king (Daniel 6:1–29). In the book of Maccabees we have the story of the martyrdom of a mother and her sons for refusing to eat pork in violation of God’s law (2 Maccabees 7:1–42).

Moreover, we have the stories of countless Christian martyrs. It began with Christians who refused to worship the Roman emperor, and it has continued through the centuries with those who suffered persecution and death rather than betray their faith.

  

Notice that the directive here is not to protest laws contrary to the faith but to refuse to follow any such laws imposed on us personally.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes no mention of the price of such refusal, but Scripture makes it perfectly clear what that price can be: persecution even unto death.

  

 
The Real Battle

Every Christian has taken baptismal vows to renounce Satan, to turn away from evil and sin, and to turn to Christ in chaste and holy service. Therefore, every Christian, in everything he or she does—no matter whether trivial or important—has an obligation to be a good and holy representative of the Church to all of society. That’s a serious responsibility.

  

The real battle of life is between Satan and your soul, not between you and other persons. Have no doubts that Satan will tempt you through others in every way he can, to induce you to lose your patience, to fall into hatred, or to defile chastity. And God will allow him to tempt you, as a way of strengthening and purifying your soul. The wicked are not here for us to eradicate them; they are here to help us become saints, and in the process, maybe to convert some of them.

  

So no matter how others bait you, your responsibility is to act always in total imitation of Christ, as a faithful and fruitful representative of the Church. If you fail in this, then the enemies of the Church will just sneer, and say, “See? Those Catholics are all just a bunch of hypocrites.” You will be labeled a fanatic and fall into ruin, and your enemies will be strengthened. Thus everyone will lose.

 

If you end up in hell because you try to fight the devil with anything other than love, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

 

Questions and Answers:
About human rights and the U.S. Constitution

Read an opinion of dissent . . .

 

Notes.

1. William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV.

 


 
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.

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