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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I’m . . . married over 20 years, have [several] great kids and a wonderful wife. Here’s the deal: For the past 27 years I have not been able to stop thinking about my high school girlfriend. We were young, ignorant, sexually active. For me it was an excessive love. When she dropped me at 18, I spiraled into severe depression, anxiety, sexual addiction, and drug and alcohol abuse for some 5 years. When I married, I was an emotional wreck but covered up pretty well. Over the years, I have improved slowly in fits and falls but consistently so that today I make it through my day. I am a faithful Catholic and have tried to be during my married life.
 
Now, I was a very sensitive, idealistic, narcissistic adolescent, and being rejected by my girlfriend (my world, my love!) and the pathetic aftermath remains for me a trauma that seems to affect or define my every waking moment. I feel like I will take this unnatural “love” for this woman (that I do not even know) to the grave. This loss is overwhelming, and I feel like all I can do is just try to accept it. I’ve heard of pining for someone for a few years but never this many unless the person was a stalker type, which I was not, so I have difficulty placing it all. I have not spoken with anyone about it because it seems to me to be a pathetic excuse for a deep trauma. But it has affected me that way. Have you seen something like this before?

Outline of the Answer
• Holy Matrimony
• Intimacy
• True Christianity

 
I see it all the time. But anyone who is Christian should know that love for God is more important than anyone or anything in your life—including your own life. Sadly, most Christians—and most Catholics even—don’t know this. And that’s why I was told to make this website.

So let’s read Luke 14:26.

  

If anyone comes to Me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

  

—Luke 14:26

Now, hate as used here does not mean “to wish harm to.” Instead it means “to remove your emotional dependence on.”

And that’s why Holy Matrimony is not based in romance. Romance is a secular medieval literary concept that seeks emotional fulfillment in another person to compensate for the emptiness that results from a lack of religious faith. But if you know—and believe—that God loves you, then you don’t need to look for recognition through other persons. So instead of trying vainly to fill yourself with fantasies of romance, you can . . .

  

. . . know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

  

—Ephesians 3:19

So if Holy Matrimony is not based in romance, then what is it all about?

Well, imagine two small weights, joined together by a length of string. Notice that the string joins the weights, but does not draw them together. Now, however, if you pick up the string in the middle and lift it up, then the two weights, drawn upward with the string, will swing together.

That’s Holy Matrimony. In the sacrament of matrimony, a man and a woman are drawn together when they are mutually lifted up by God’s love through the sacramental presence of Christ.

Holy Matrimony, therefore, is an act of service to God, to bring children into the world for one purpose: to lead those children to God by teaching them to love God in the context of the love for God shared by both the mother and the father.

 
Intimacy

Now donít get me wrong here about intimacy between a husband and wife. Even though they must not be dependent on each other, and even though they must not seek to draw themselves together, a holy marriage requires emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, and sexual intimacy between the man and the woman.

Emotional intimacy enhances all human relationships, and so it must be present in Holy Matrimony as well, as a concrete expression of one’s mystical intimacy with God. This intimacy is the basis for honest communication and for mutual cooperation.

Physical intimacy serves to strengthen the bond between the husband and wife in their service to God. Still, contrary to popular opinion, physical intimacy involves far more than, and does not even have to include, genital arousal and satisfaction. Hugging, holding hands, a compassionate caress, or a kiss on the cheek are all physically intimate behaviors that can be free of lust.

Sexual intimacy is necessary for conceiving children, and, as long as it is not closed to procreation and is free from lust, it can serve to strengthen the bond between the husband and wife in their service to God. But once sexuality is stripped of its essential procreative nature and made into a recreational sport, it degenerates into a seductive flirtation with death that defiles matrimony.

  

In the book of Tobit we learn that Sarah had been married seven times, but that as each husband approached Sarah on the wedding night, he was killed by a demon. Guided by the archangel Raphael, Tobit married Sarah, and because he and Sarah prayed together and renounced lust, Godís mercy protected Tobit from the demon.

  

—Tobit 6:14Ė8:18

Thus it can be said that the sexual relationship with your old girlfriend has opened the door to a demonic obsession that has been defiling your marriage all these years.

 
True Christianity

So, considering all this, then, your attachment for your old girlfriend is just a romantic illusion you are keeping alive because you are afraid to renounce lust as Tobit and Sarah did. You fear the consequences of loving God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. In essence, you fear dying to the world.

I know it’s hard to hear this because I had to hear it myself once. But that letting go is what it takes to set out on the mystic path to true Christianity. You simply cannot get to God if you cling to anything in this world—whether it be another person, a social identity, a substance (such as alcohol or drugs or cigarettes or food), or wealth and riches. Christ said that plain as day. Still most of us refuse to believe itóand then their lives, the lives of their spouses, and the lives of their children wobble on the brink of doom.

 


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