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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I知 in a panic. I知 afraid I知 going to hell. Is it a sin to go to the Novus Ordo Mass? Is it a sin to receive the Eucharist in my hands? No one can give a clear and concise answer. Everyone says something different. What am I supposed to do? What if I make the wrong decision? Will I go to hell? Maybe I知 being obsessive-compulsive about this, but I知 terrified. What if I receive in my hands but kneel and bow and lick my hands clean? Will that make it okay? What do I do? I知 afraid that if I make the wrong decision I will go to hell.

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• The Dynamic of Undoing in OCD
• Being Told What to Do
• A Fine Line
• Seeking the Reverent Path

 
The real issue in front of you is not a matter of choosing correct behaviors but a matter of choosing the most reverent path. The difference between these two choices is actually the difference between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and trust in God.

 
The Dynamic of Undoing in OCD

In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the underlying dynamic is a matter of undoing 澱ad behaviors (or sins) so as to remove the guilt of having committed those behaviors. This dynamic of undoing, though, always misses the psychological (and spiritual) point of real healing because it always looks backwards with the objective of using your own ritualistic efforts to reverse something unwanted. In contrast, healing looks forward with the objective of developing new, healthy growth. Furthermore, in the spiritual sense, healing depends on trusting in God痴 mercy so that sins can be admitted, guilt can be healed through forgiveness, and new healthy behavior can be learned and practiced.

Now, in your case, bowing and licking your hands is just an OCD way of trying to undo the guilt of receiving the Eucharist in your hands. And you池e terrified of the matter.

 
Being Told What to Do

In your case, the terror that you experience has its core in a very disconcerting fact: you can never be certain that your attempts at undoing will actually 努ork. As great as an idea of undoing might seem, there will still be doubt that you have managed to escape condemnation for your bad behavior. Consequently, you want the assurance of someone telling you, with clarity and certainty, what is right.

Nevertheless, even I cannot tell you what to do. You want to be told the right choice in the hope that when you are judged by God you will not be sent to hell for having made the wrong choice. But judgment is not about the thing chosen; instead, it痴 about the intent of the choice.

 
A Fine Line

Judgment concerns a subtle line that separates the path to heaven and the path to hell. It痴 a subtle because it depends on the difference between innocent ignorance and a refusal of what is reverent, for in this difference can be found the deep intent of any choice.

Consider an example.

Let痴 say a man goes to Mass wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Let痴 also say that maybe he is ignorant of the need to dress reverently at Mass. Still, he sees other men熔r maybe even only one man謡earing dress clothes. So, if he has any desire for reverence, he will say to himself, 鏑ook here. What is this all about? He will then set about investigating the matter. He will ask others. He will read. Maybe he will discover the parable of the man thrown out of the wedding banquet and into the darkness because he refused to put on the fine clothing required for the banquet (Matthew 22: 1–13). At that, he will have to make a decision. Either he will choose to start wearing dress clothes to Mass, or he will say, 哲o way. I知 fine the way I am.

So how will he be judged? Well, the matter is not a literal issue about whether casual clothes are a sin, nor is it an issue about whether the man could be forgiven because he was ignorant about how to dress at Mass. Once he knew that other men wear dress clothes, his ignorance would have been shaken, and so his judgment by God would be about whether he chose or rejected the most reverent path.

Now, there can be many other examples. Women wearing chapel veils. Women wearing skirts rather than pants. People receiving the Eucharist on the tongue. People receiving the Eucharist while kneeling. All of these examples raise the same issue: 展hat is this all about? And judgment will be about whether someone, in noticing these things, will choose to ignore them or will choose to look deeper and then choose the most reverent path.

 
Seeking the Reverent Path

 
The Novus Ordo Mass is legal. That痴 a fact. But that痴 not the issue. The real issue is whether things are done reverently. Casual clothing. Women wearing pants. Women not wearing chapel veils. Receiving the Eucharist while standing. Receiving the Eucharist in the hand. What should you do? Well, I have made recommendations on this website, but the issue is not whether you do exactly what I say, or whether you will go to hell if you don稚 do what I say, or whether you can undo wrong choices.

The real and final issue is whether you are willing in all things to choose the most reverent path and grow along the way. That means seeking the path to heaven様ooking forward and trusting in God痴 mercy to heal your mistakes, not in looking backwards fearing hell.

 

  
Related Pages

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder
Unfinished business in OCD
How a defense is a protection
Catholic Recommendations for treatment of OCD

 


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