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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

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.

 
I have heard of some persons who have had good experiences with Cursillo groups, and I have heard of some persons who have had very bad experiences with them.

So, rather than say anything specific about any particular organization, apostolate, or lay association, let me just provide a simple way to sort out truth from lies. That way you can make your own decision about any group.

In general, groups that thrive on popular enthusiasm are often just a lot of sugary sweet sentiment that makes you feel good but that has little to do with the core basis of Christianity: “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me” into a life of self-sacrifice and suffering for the salvation of others.

So, if you say you love Christ, and if you want to follow Him, and if you are willing to do anything it takes to fulfill your desire, then pay attention to several things.

Cling reverently to four fundamentals of Christianity: the Eucharist, the Passion, repentance of sins, and a holy lifestyle.  Any teaching that neglects these fundamentals should be shunned. Be wary, too, of any bishop or priest who advocates any teaching that neglects these fundamentals.
 

Avoid any teaching that emphasizes human fellowship above the divine mysteries of the Mass.  Feeling good about yourself through your interaction with others is like the Israelites in the desert worshipping the golden calf instead of the true God.
 

Avoid any group that spreads through peer pressure.  In its proper place, peer pressure does have a value because it can help you avoid certain behaviors. For example, in regard to overcoming addictions, peer pressure can be helpful in supporting you to avoid the use of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and unchaste sexual behaviors.
     But peer pressure cannot make you acquire virtue. Virtue is an expression of love, and love is an act of free will, and so, if you are pressured into doing something, especially if the pressure causes you to violate your personal boundaries, it is not an act of love.
     Keep in mind, therefore, that genuine Christianity is a matter of pure love which spreads through a quiet, humble demonstration of self-sacrifice despite tribulations and persecution. Consequently, if you do anything to gain the acceptance of others, or to keep them from rejecting you, it’s a defilement of love, and, in the spiritual sense, it’s all a fraud.

  

Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

  

—Matthew 6:1

Assess the value of any teaching according to its fruits: the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  If these fruits are not being clearly manifested in a group or association, just focus on living the Faith quietly and privately.

 
Summary

Given the choice between feeling good or suffering hardship and sacrifice, many persons today will choose the former. Even those who call themselves Christian want enjoyment and excitement from life so much that they will even go so far as to purge the Church of any reminders of the Crucifixion so as to revel in the glory of the Resurrection. They will sit or stand rather than kneel; they will hold hands and make themselves, rather than God, the focus of prayer; and they will babble rather than revere the divine mystery in loving, prayerful contemplation.

But Saint John of the Cross warned us:

He who seeks not the cross of Christ
seeks not the glory of Christ.

—St. John of the Cross,
The Sayings of Light and Love, no. 102

So listen to his warning—at least, if your desire to follow Christ is not just another way to feel good about yourself, and if you sincerely struggle to carry your cross rather than merely wear it around your neck as a pretty piece of jewelry.

 

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