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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I started attendling the Traditional Latin Mass (also known as the Tridentine Mass or TLM) about 2½ years ago. In my experience attending it amazing things have happened, pain has surfaced and even healed, I “feel” fathered (this is very important to me because my father was absent and apathetic in protecting me from my mother’s emotional and sometimes physical abuse). I feel that at the TLM that I come into contact with God and am totally captured by its beauty. . . . [T]he image of God presented in the TLM really inspires me to love God for his own sake, despite the fact that I fail in this miserably. It also provides a refuge against the liturgical chaos in our [Novus Ordo] church.

. . . I have tried to talk to [the priest at my parish] about Liturgy and offered to start a Latin Mass Society and I have offered to get financial assistance for him to learn the TLM and offered to go leaps and bounds (including getting the local FSSP Priests to come and offer the TLM and even train him for free, I offered to train alter servers and recruit people to start a choir that could do Gregorian Chant) and the response that I get is, “That sounds great, but I don’t have the time” or “I understand these things have value, but the liberals will rebel so I have to go at a ‘baby steps approach.’”

My problem is that this has evoked serious anger from me because I feel that while people at the Novus Ordo say they take liturgy seriously, I don’t believe that they really do. I feel ignored and mistreated pastorally because while the school has to be reformed and they are going leaps and bounds for that, it appears that it is OK that Our Lord in the Eucharist is mistreated and I am the crazy one for getting upset about it.

So this evokes terrible anger in me because my wife who does not entirely understand my appreciation for the TLM wants to continue to go to [our] parish. . . . I find myself so angry about this whole issue and even when I attend [the] Novus Ordo (priest facing the people, way too many extraordinary ministers of Communion, terrible choir, bad lay readers, etc.) I can’t help but get angry and wonder why doesn’t anyone do something about this?? . . . [I]t is hard to take my mind off it.

I often wonder if there is something deeper to this anger something more, 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?

. . . Should I avoid the Novus Ordo to help cope with my anger? I recognize I probably am mad at my father but when I think about my father my rage never flares up even though I know intellectually he really has failed me I never get angry with him beyond just irritation because he is a nice guy so I find it hard to be mad at him but I suspect this is the root of my anger because he was never around and failed to protect me from my mother. How do I undercover this anger toward my Dad so I can feel the pain, give it to God and take responsibility for it?

Outline of the Answer
• The Fundamental Purpose
• Love—or Veiled Hatred?
• Fear of Love
• Cheating Yourself of Love
• Removing the Obstacles to Love
• Conclusion: Self-deceived

 
The fundamental purpose of prayer, whether private or liturgical, is to grow in love. True love will be manifested as love of self, love of neighbor, and love of God, all embraced in a dynamic unity. Thus, if you say you love God but hate your neighbor, you’re a liar; if you say you love your neighbor but hate yourself, you’re a liar; if you say you love God but hate yourself, you’re a liar; and if you say you love your neighbor but hate God, you’re a liar.

Any anger and hatred, therefore, puts you in a bad place, regardless of whether the anger is about liturgical abuses or not.

 
Love—or Veiled Hatred?

Now, in regard to liturgy, the Traditional Mass preserves a reverent environment well suited to nurturing love. The language, the music, and the liturgical actions of the priest(s), server(s) and the congregation all combine to focus human action into an act of love.

The Novus Ordo has this potential as well. For example, I know of a chapel where the Novus Ordo is celebrated mainly in English (once a week in Latin), while still using the original altar; the priest faces the tabernacle rather than the people; the Kyrie, when sung, is sung in Greek; the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, when sung, are chanted in Latin; Extraordinary Ministers of Communion are not used; and many in the congregation receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling at the altar rail.

Nevertheless, many in the chapel receive Communion in the hand while standing and without showing any more reverence than children eating candy. This illustrates that the Novus Ordo, especially in English, has as much potential for abuse as it has potential for holiness. Consequently, in many parishes today, the “love” in the Mass is no more love than the “love” experienced by someone having sex with a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Everyone calls it love but it’s really a hatred for authority that itself is a veiled hatred for God.

Notice the word. Hatred. Most people will cringe when hearing it; they will say, “That’s ridiculous! We don’t hate God!” Yet they do hate God. Hatred is an expression of anger, anger derives from emotional hurt, and people who want to liberalize the Church were once children who were emotionally hurt by their parents’ hypocrisy. It’s a long chain of events, but when you follow it out psychologically it takes you to one inevitable conclusion: emotional hurt always provokes an impulse to hatred, and because of that dynamic unity I spoke about earlier, all hatred ends up as hatred of God.

This, now, brings us to your questions.

 
Fear of Love

You ask how anger at your father manifests in your behavior. Well, even though you do not say very much about it in actuality, you say very much psychologically. “My father was never around and failed to protect me from my mother.” In your eyes, therefore, your mother was a danger; she must have been very angry, and you must have suffered from her yelling and screaming and her hostile, irrational behavior. Moreover, by shirking his responsibility to the family, your father cheated you of a confident image of fatherly guidance and protection that could stand up to—and take command over—irrational hatred.

So, then, what was the result of all of this? In learning to fear your mother’s hatred and to hate your father’s cowardice, you learned to fear love.

You learned to fear love through a series of psychological steps. You would have felt hurt by your mother and you would have experienced impulses of anger at her—but, because your father failed to teach you anything about emotional responsibility and how to limit and direct impulses of anger, you learned to fear your own anger. You feared it as if it were an uncontrollable wild beast that could overpower you and devour everything around it.

So, not knowing how to manage anger in a spiritually healthy manner, you stifled your awareness of your anger by stifling your emotional life. You didn’t eliminate emotions entirely (because no one can), yet you stifled your feelings sufficiently to convince yourself that what you were feeling was somehow wrong, or in error, or unnecessary, or of no real purpose. You learned to function in the intellectual realm, seeking out reasons and explanations—learning every polemic in the book—to allow you to ward off your emotional hurt. You did what many children do. You hardened your heart sufficiently to the emotional pain of yourself and others to protect yourself from your anger while still allowing you a sense of duty to carry out your responsibilities.

You did this all, not realizing that, in denying your own feelings, you were essentially cheating yourself of the very love your father denied you.

Again, notice the words: cheating yourself of love. What does this mean?

 
Cheating Yourself of Love

Well, reflect on why God gave us free will. If we couldn’t say “No” to God, our saying “Yes” to God would be meaningless. In a similar way, if we cannot acknowledge our capacity to hurt others—indeed, our desire to hurt others—when they hurt us, then we cannot express our love for them through a refusal to hurt them. Without an honesty about our hatred for others, any good we do for them is just an act of duty; it’s not really an act of love. To love others is to wish them good, especially by refusing to do them the harm that, somewhere in the recesses of our minds, we would like to do to them.

Consequently, to love others you must first know that you want to hurt them; then, as an act of love, you can refuse to carry out that hurtful impulse.

Thus, maybe now you can understand that, because your mother allowed herself to carry out her anger in actuality, she did not love you. Moreover, your father did not love you because, in fearing his own anger at your mother, he implicitly gave your mother permission to carry out her anger in the family. Your father, therefore, is as guilty of your mother’s abuse as she is—and you have been angry all your life at your father because he failed to protect you as he should have done.

So where does that leave you? Well, it leaves you at Mass, doesn’t it? It leaves you in a place where you get angry at others because they don’t do what you think they should do. It leaves you hating others because, in shirking their responsibilities, they demonstrate that they don’t love God—but your hatred for them leaves you hating God too. Your dilemma is that you are surrounded by people who don’t know how to love God and that you’re one of them, too.

The problem isn’t with the Novus Ordo.

The problem is that, because of the way your parents treated you, you fear love—and, because you fear love, you have been suppressing your anger just enough to keep it out of sight but not enough to prevent it from leaking out when you are most vulnerable. In your case, you are most vulnerable when others’ lack of respect for your sense of duty causes you to catch a momentary glimpse of the truth that duty is not love. Your anger is just a puff of smoke—a magician’s trick—that allows you to quickly remove from sight your lack of love for God and replace it with your indignation that others lack love for God.

 
Removing the Obstacles to Love

What can you do, then? You cannot force yourself to love, but you can do whatever it takes to remove the obstacles to real love. Endeavor, through prayer and scrutiny, to look back into your past with honesty to feel the pain you have been denying, to identify the family behaviors that caused you to fear love, and to embrace and transform that fear. 

This is hard work. It means that once you open up the door to your suppressed emotions you run the risk of letting your anger out as well. This, however, is really not as bad as it may seem. If you can learn to acknowledge and understand your angry impulses, rather than shut down any process that would reveal them to you, you can then learn to make a conscious effort to refuse to carry out those impulses. Instead of allowing your impulses to push you right into sin, you can let those angry impulses be warning signs that you have been emotionally hurt somehow, you can then turn back to examine that hurt honestly, and you can then turn to prayer for assistance. Pray for God to protect you, pray for the repentance of those who have hurt you, and pray for your ability to grow in love because of your trialsand pray especially that you can remain in a place of love regardless of what others do around you.

Read an excerpt from a letter
by Saint Peter Damian about tribulations

 
Still, the difficulty of the work explains why a priest will balk at opening up his church to liturgical reverence: if he does, the liberals’ lack of love will be exposed, and their anger will come gushing forth—and many priests right there back away in fear, just like your father, because they lack the courage to face the anger of others, to restrain it, and then to teach others how to love, rather than hate.

 
Conclusion: Self-deceived

In the end, no matter what prayer and liturgical practices you follow, if they are not leading you to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; if they are not leading you to forsake the world and its enticements; if they are not leading you to live a chaste and modest lifestyle; and if they are not leading you to treat others with forgiveness and compassion, then, to borrow an expression from Saint James, you are self-deceived.

 

Who wrote this web page?

 


 
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 donít see living faith. They donít see protection from evil. They donít see genuine, fruitful devotion. They donít 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 credibilityóand 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. Letís bring them back.

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