to be clearer about your material – not all people who suffer with anxiety/
depression are going to Hell. If a person unconsciously desires to harm, then
this is unconscious (not in one’s consciousness, therefore, not a volitional
act). . . . How can something unconscious be a sin?… [Y]ou need
to revise your theology. You are more or less saying that unless people know the
material on your website (i.e. their need to heal from childhood hurts), they are
doomed to Hell. This is a grave misunderstanding. What about the many people who
lived prior to the psycho-dynamic theory was even thought of? . . .
You cannot tell people: Well, turn away from
the satisfaction of thinking that you are in a state of grace when you unconsciously
desire to harm yourself and others. . . . Unconscious
“desire” cannot be sinful – it is not volitional. . . . I just
dont want to be carrying a false sense of guilt. If what you are saying were
true, then by all means, I would accept it. But it undermines Catholic doctrine.
You have not given me anything Catholic to support what you are saying except an
opinion based on psychotherapeutic studies. Where there is confusion between opinion
and Church teaching, I rest with the Magisterium.
here’s nothing more Catholic
than putting your trust in God’s mercy and love.
How beautiful to accept your wretchedness
gracefully and trust in God’s mercy! If you did this you would not
be afraid of anything.
What To Do
Nevertheless, many who call
themselves Catholic are afraid to trust in God’s mercy. Because of
humiliation from being mistreated in childhood
they hide their wretchedness. They hide it from everyone, even themselves.
As children they were not taught by their parents to turn to God for comfort,
and so they were unable to turn to God for comfort when they experienced distress.
Consequently, they learned nothing about emotional
honesty. Instead, they fell into the trap of intellectualizing their distress
by telling others what to do.
emotional hurt because of something someone did or
said, the hurt bypassed their conscious awareness and passed into their
unconscious, and all they
could think about consciously was the desperate desire for others to act differently.
“You can’t do this,” or “You can’t say that,” or “You need to do such and such” all
amount to saying, “Change your behavior so I can feel good about myself.” In its more
primal sense—that is, to a helpless child—it means “Care for me so that I can live.
Without your love I am in danger of perishing.”
spiritual scrutiny or
psychotherapy, this desperation—this
futile desire to go around proving that someone
is wrong—will be carried on into adulthood. Demanding. Critical. Accusatory. Argumentative.
Angry. These qualities will define such a person’s life. It’s a life of sad desperation
on a continuum whose extreme is terrorism.
Always telling others what to do, you
believe that you have done nothing wrong. Yet underneath it all you carry the
guilt of being angry at your parents, and its an anger
that has now been driven into your unconscious. Because you fear the guilt you are
desperate to call it a false sense of guilt. Its all because you
lack faith, and you fear God’s
mercy. Instead of admitting your
wretchedness to God and calling upon His mercy to be
freed of guilt, you try to convince yourself that you haven’t sinned.
Trying to convince yourself that you haven’t sinned, though, is opposed to God’s
mercy. How can you say, “God have mercy, I have sinned” if you persist in saying,
“But I haven’t sinned!”? When you are warned, you get angry, and you fall into the
futile desire of trying to tell others what to do.
Let me say also
that when we are given a warning and corrected for doing something wrong, we
should not be so foolish as to take offense and be angry. There are times when
we are unconscious of the sins we commit because our hearts are fickle, lacking
in faith. Futile desires becloud our minds.
Think about that. It sounds like something
that psychodynamic theory would say, right? Well, it was actually said in a homily
written in the second
It was a truth given to Christians who lived well before psychodynamic theory was
even thought of.
The Will to Chaos and
In Canto I of Book I (Hell) of Dante’s
Divine Comedy, Dante finds himself lost in a dark woods (symbolizing the
spiritual blindness of a heart hardened by sin). He tries to escape by climbing up
a beautiful mountain, but he is driven back to the woods by three animals, a leopard
(symbolizing lust), a lion (symbolizing violence) and a wolf (symbolizing malice).
Back in the woods he meets the shade of Virgil, an ancient Roman poet, who proposes to
guide Dante down through Hell to get to Purgatory and ultimately
The Mountain, which on
the mystical level is the image of the Soul’s Ascent to God, is thus on the moral
level the image of Repentance, by which the sinner returns to God. It can be ascended
directly from the “right road” but not from the Dark Wood because there the soul’s
cherished sins have become, as it were, externalized, and appear to it like demons
or “beasts” with a will and power of their own, blocking all progress. Once lost in
the Dark Wood, a man can only escape by so descending into himself that he sees his
sin, not as an external obstacle, but as the will to chaos and death within him (Hell).
Only when he has “died to sin” can he repent and purge it. Mount Purgatory and the
Mountain of Canto I are, therefore, really one and the same mountain as seen on the
far side, and on this side, of the “death unto sin.”
So what is the will to chaos and death
within us that Sayers describes but the futile desire to commit sin that
characterizes our fallen nature. The psychological implication of this is that in order to
attain holiness we must all descend into the inner hell of a “desire to commit sin” that lurks
in the unconscious of us all and that
will lead us to our doom unless we encounter it and pass beyond it with
a courageous desire for purification.
Everything on this website points to one
fundamental spiritual truth: our salvation depends on our renouncing the deep futile
desire to commit sin that lurks in our hearts because of our fallen nature. If we
can renounce that desire to commit sin and battle against it in
every moment, then we will be on the way of perfection, motivated by the holy desire to
seek God with a pure heart.
Your predicament is like someone who
has received the gift of spiritually enlightened truth, and then, because the truth
he sees conflicts with his futile, unconscious desires,
sins by trying to turn off the lights.
Well, if you refuse to learn from your
mistakes, maybe someone else will learn from them here. As for you:
do what you want.
From my secret sins
cleanse me, O Lord.
And from those of
others spare Thy servant.
See the Liturgy of the Hours: Office of Readings, Saturday of the Thirty-Second
Week in Ordinary Time.
2. From her commentary on Canto I of Cantica I: Hell
(L’Inferno) in Dante’s The Divine Comedy, trans. Dorothy Sayers
(Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1949).
Sending yourself to hell to prove that someone
has hurt you
Blind to your own anger
What is anger without sin?
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.