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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I’m terrified of hell. I grew up terrified of hell and because of the abusive situation and growing up feeling like I was evil, I was certain I was headed for hell. Then I grew up and stopped believing in hell. I stopped believing because the whole thing just doesn’t seem fair, considering all the child abuse in the world. . . .
 
Then I found your website and everything makes sense to me. Because what you say makes sense based on my own experience of myself, I now believe that you must know what you’re talking about. . . .
 
This puts me in a state of fear: fear that I’ll go to hell if I don’t follow these rules, fear that if I do follow the rules and refrain from sex my marriage will suffer severly (my husband would not tolerate no sex), fear that if I do keep getting pregnant I’ll be even more overwhelmed than I am now. And I fear how all of this will affect the kids I do have.
 
The fear I’m feeling over this is intense. . . . I’m terrified of hell and I’m terrified of having more kids and I’m terrified of my husband being unhappy.

Outline of the Answer
• No One to Blame
• Love
• Sexual Activity is Not Love
• Sexual Abuse in Childhood
• Healing: Imperfect and Perfect
• A Career of Love

 
No matter how much you worry about going to hell, it won’t prevent you from going to hell. Souls end up in hell because they reject God’s love and forgiveness, and, in so doing, they fail to repent their sins. Those who end up in hell, then, have no one to blame but themselves.

Worrying about what might happen will not do anything to change it.

So try considering a different strategy.

Instead of worrying about hell, which is characterized by selfishness and hatred, think of its opposite—love—and let love motivate you to change your behavior.

 
Love

God is love.

But only Christ can tell us what love really requires of us. And only Christ can tell us what offends love. And He did tell us, as is recorded in the Scriptures and through the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

Christianity therefore teaches us to purify ourselves of whatever offends love because no soul committed to offending love can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

God is love. He is not like some deluded emperor who demands adoration and praise from everyone around him to satisfy his inflated ego. Souls who love God don’t serve Him because He demands their obedience like an irrational parent; souls who love God love Him in love for the sake of love, and, through His grace, they become love. 

 
Sexual Activity is Not Love

Now, when speaking about love, we have to become very clear about something very important: sexual activity is not love. Those who pursue sexual pleasure apart from its reproductive meaning—that is, those who pursue erotic pleasure to gain someone’s attention, to avoid feeling abandoned, or just to feel good about themselves—reject love. Erotic pleasure pursued for the mere sake of your own emotional needs is a rejection of love. And those who reject love have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Their only place is hell, because hell, with all its selfishness and hatred, is the place of those who reject love.

Read more about Jesus’ teachings on matrimony

 
Sexual Abuse in Childhood

Those who have been sexually abused in childhood almost invariably get caught up in the illusions of sexuality. In order to survive, an abused child will learn to use sexuality as a way to appease others, to gain their attention, and to avoid being abandoned—or killed. These illusions, which keep you alive in childhood, will persist unchanged, as unconscious defenses, into adulthood unless they are brought to conscious awareness and healed.

 
Healing: Imperfect and Perfect

If it’s an option for you, psychotherapy can help your healing. But unless the treatment is with a Catholic psychotherapist, most likely it will be imperfect, because most psychotherapists are themselves still carrying their own illusions about sexuality. Through Catholic psychotherapy you can face the emotional pain you have kept hidden most of your life, and you can learn emotional honesty, but if your psychotherapist has not overcome his or her own illusions about sexuality, you will remain stuck in your illusions. It will be like the blind leading the blind.

  

It would be a disaster if anyone became a psychotherapist without having first overcome his or her illusions about sexuality. Without knowing what love really is, a psychotherapist cannot teach clients to love. And the psychotherapist will be held responsible by Christ for leading those clients astray, because not teaching others to love is a defilement of love.

  

Perfect healing can occur through genuine surrender to Christ in love. When you surrender your needs for attention, surrender your fear of abandonment, and surrender your desire to satisfy your ego through bodily pleasure, you will have died to yourself. Having overcome the selfishness of your ego, you will be capable of growing in love.

 
A Career of Love

Therefore, your immediate career is to learn love.

Commit yourself to living a chaste and holy life in love. Then you can trust in Christ to take care of you and protect you. Then you won’t have to worry about hell—at least, not for yourself. But you will have to pray constantly for all the other souls in danger of hell—including your husband who demands your sexual service—because they still cling to their childhood illusions, and, in so doing, commit themselves to offending love.

  

If, after you explain these things to your husband, he continues to place his desire for bodily pleasure above the welfare of his soul, the welfare of your children’s souls, and the welfare of your soul, then he has openly renounced his baptismal vows for the sake of lust. His state of spiritual blindness and mortal sin give you full justification to distance yourself from him physically, to protect your own soul.

And if he tries to claim that you have forced him to seek relief elsewhere, well, that’s just a lot of horsefeathers. That’s victim talk; it has nothing to do with Christianity, and it’s further evidence of the depth to which he has sunk into spiritual blindness.

  

Pray earnestly, then, for your husband, your children, and yourself. Remember Christ’s own words, repeated throughout the Gospels: Do not be afraid.

 

For more detailed information about Catholic marital issues, see the
Matrimony section of the Questions and Answers part
of this website

 


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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.

 

Healing by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. explains how 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.

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