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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I am preparing to enter an RCIA program, and every day 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? The reading said that people were trying to follow Him. One man asked to go bury his father before joining Jesus. Jesus told him not to. Another wanted to say good-bye to family and he also was told not to. I thought Jesus wanted us to take care of each other. I just don’t understand. If we are asked to do God’s work, that means to take care of each other, right? Obviously NOT right. Why would Jesus not want us to bury our dead? Why would Jesus want us to leave without saying good-bye?

Outline of the Answer
• Lies and Distortions
• The Historical Context
• Our Real Social Obligations
• The Desire for Love and Recognition
• An End to Victimization

 
I find it very sad that many, if not most, RCIA programs in this country are run by dissenters from the true Faith whose sole purpose is to mislead innocent souls with lies and distortions of genuine Christianity. These RCIA teachers don’t have a clue about the demonic oppression and apostasy attacking the Church today, nor do they understand the great spiritual battle against evil that defines the Church; instead, in their ignorance they present the Church as a human fellowship organization dedicated to social justice.

Furthermore, even if the priests in such parishes understood how powerless they often are to purge their parishes of apostate teachers, the priests still fail to take a stand in their homilies by explaining and defending Catholic dogma directly to the people.

Consequently, those poor souls in the RCIA classes have to sit through homilies that give clever intellectual explanations of Biblical texts but fail to teach the people how to live holy lives by detaching themselves from the moral corruption of the world. Sadly, many priests themselves fail to live in spiritual detachment from the world, and so they fail to achieve the intuitive, mystical understanding of the Church that persons such as Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila attained. So we have multitudes of souls hungry for the truth who are fed people-pleasing homilies that do little more than whet the appetite for coffee and donuts after Mass.

Now it’s significant that this passage from Luke so troubled you, because it points directly to what the purpose of RCIA should be. So, to understand the full meaning of this passage, let’s begin by first putting the text in its historical context.

 
The Historical Context:
Leaving the Spiritually Dead World Behind

Jesus was leading His disciples to Jerusalem—to His Passion and death on a cross, and, ultimately, to His Resurrection and the establishment of the Church. Thus the journey to Jerusalem represents the way to Heaven and the Way of the Cross represents the most difficult passage along the way. Jesus needed to make it clear, then, that His journey to Jerusalem was not just some vacation pilgrimage. To follow Him—then or now—means to give up everything: to “die” to the world and its concerns for wealth and social prestige, and, with resolute determination, to turn full attention to the journey ahead.

In this passage from Luke, Christ was speaking to a man who intellectually wanted to become a disciple, but who in his heart was more concerned with securing for himself his family inheritance and therefore his social prestige. To go back and bury his father meant to arrange things so that when his father died, he would be secure. Christ knew all of this, so He said what He said, speaking directly to the lack of true faith in this man’s heart, so as to put to the test his desire to follow Christ.

Letting the “dead bury the dead” means, therefore, to make a clear and total break with the spiritually dead—that is, with the spiritually “dead” world you’re leaving behind. When you resolve to travel to “Jerusalem,” you can’t look back. In that moment of conversion, the past means nothing, and the future becomes everything.

 
Our Real Social Obligations

Now, to us, in the world today, this passage has an additional—a psychological—meaning. Christians today must follow Jesus in spirit, not along a real dusty road to a real city plodding along behind the actual historical Jesus. So, yes, to follow Him in spirit we do have to “die” to the world, but nevertheless we still have our real lives in this world with real social obligations. When we part from our friends, we really do say goodbye to them. When our parents die we really do have to bury them.

But there is more to life than its literal social obligations.

 
The Desire for Love and Acceptance

“Letting the dead bury the dead” means that to live a genuine Christian life we have to give up our psychological desire to make the world—the spiritually “dead”—give us the love and acceptance we believe we deserve.

Let me explain.

Let’s assume, for example, that your parents are still living and that your father is an alcoholic, or that your mother is a sort of professional “victim,” always complaining of being mistreated and criticizing everyone with an acid tongue. Or maybe your parents aren’t quite this bad, but maybe they have misunderstood you in other, more subtle, ways. In any event, you would be wounded deeply, and you would have suffered greatly because of the inconsiderate behavior of others. You would feel unnoticed, unheard, and unloved. You would feel abandoned. You would feel rejected. You would feel the anguish of not knowing what is going on, and you would feel the frustration of not having anyone explain things to you. So what can you do?

Well, in the past, as a result of all the hurt that was ever inflicted on you, you felt victimized. You complained about how poorly you were treated. Moreover, in those complaints, you wanted unconsciously to show your parents—and the rest of the world around you—how much you have been hurt. Furthermore, in wanting to show them how much you have been hurt, you have wanted compensation—and, in some ways, you have wanted something that is more than a just compensation for what you have lost; you have wanted revenge.

OK. So that’s what you have done according to the ways of the world. You have done what many persons do in law, and what almost everyone does in politics and sports: feel victimized and demand satisfaction for your hurt. And if you can’t get that satisfaction, you will find ways to act out your pain. Smoke cigarettes. Drink alcohol. Use marijuana. Become overweight. Dress immodestly. Defile your body with tattoos and piercings. Defile your soul with sexual perversions. Allow your physical and mental health to deteriorate. Reject the Church. Scoff at authority. Lost in pain, lost in confusion, and lost in an empty desperation for love, you will do anything it takes to make someone notice you.

 
An End to Victimization

Yes, everyone craves revenge. But what did Jesus do when his disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to avenge the insult they have received? Jesus rebuked them. (See Luke 9:54-55.)

Consequently, as a Christian, it’s important to respond to your hurt by “letting the dead bury the dead.” In other words, stop trying to make the spiritually dead—your mother, your father, and anyone else who has ever hurt you—“love” you or give you the recognition you so desperately crave. Whenever you are injured, realize that you cannot call down fire from heaven to avenge yourself. You cannot make the world treat you fairly. You cannot make the world love you. You cannot make the world notice you. Instead, turn all your attention, with resolution and determination, to the real destination of your life: Jerusalem, where all victimization must end, and where suffering and death on a cross for the sake of others is the only path to true love—and the Kingdom of Heaven.

So there you have it. In the end, as you say, “I can’t do this”—but the full truth is that you can’t do it alone, without the grace of following Jesus to Jerusalem.

If you follow Jesus, you will have life.

But if you reject Him, you are dead. The spiritually dead are concerned about their affairs in this world, so if you turn from Christ to go back and arrange things so that you can draw benefit from the world, you are dead. If you claim that you want to follow Christ but haven’t detached yourself from the world, you are the dead wanting to bury the dead.

Therefore, if you stay in the place of psychological victimization, like disobedient RCIA teachers, you are dead. You’re simply defending your pride, feeling sorry for yourself and demanding that the world notice your pain. But healing from victimization involves recognizing your feelings of hurt and then resolving to speak about them charitably and calmly without demanding anything. If others listen to you, fine. Work with them to find a solution to the problem, as you have done by writing to me. And if they fail to hear you, well, pray for their repentance. Then tell yourself, “I don’t need them” and let the dead bury the dead.

 

Who wrote this web page?

 


 

Though Demons Gloat
They Shall Not Prevail


by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

 

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 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.

Ordering Information

 

Healing
Psychological Healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition


by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.


A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites is now available at your fingertips in book form with a comprehensive index.
 
Psychological defenses help to protect us from emotional injury, but if you cling to the defense mechanisms that were created in your childhood and carry them on into adulthood—as most everyone does unconsciously—your quest for spiritual healing will be thwarted by overwhelming resentments and conflicts.
     Still, God has been trying to show you that there is more to life than resentment and conflict, something so beautiful and desirable that only one thing can resist its pull: hate.
     So now, and in every moment until you die, you will have a profound choice between your enslavement to old defenses and the beauty of God. That decision has to come from you. You will go where you desire.

More information

 


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