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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

As you may have heard, the Holy Father has recently stated that the Church owes homosexuals an “apology.” In his three year reign as pope, he has also said many things that go against Catholic dogma and has put homosexually-friendly bishops and cardinals, who repeatedly make confusing anti-Catholic statements into key Vatican positions.
     Recently, one of the pope’s closest advisors publicly issued a disturbing statement saying that the Catholic Church must “apologize” to homosexuals and that it is the duty of the state to give same-sex couples the same rights and protections as marriage. When Pope Francis was asked about the statement he agreed that the Catholic Church must apologize to homosexuals whom it has “offended.” In a statement that has been seized upon by LGBT activists the world over, the Holy Father even explicitly spoke against giving “theological” reasons for condemning homosexuality.
     In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Our Lord says that the time will come when “Even the elect . . . will be confused.” Our Lady of Fatima warned that the final battle against Satan will be against marriage and family. Thus, I understand these things must come to pass (and the papacy is not immune to spreading confusion) but in the meantime how is a Catholic to react when the pope himself is making seemingly heretical comments? . . . Are we obliged to remain silent when the Pope is spreading errors that are influencing the weak and vulnerable Catholics and non-Catholics among us? . . . Aren’t we taught to admonish the sinner, as a charitable work of mercy? I know that we are to focus on Christ and the Church’s Traditions at all times in the Church, particularly when things get rocky, but I am presently very disturbed by all this and not sure how to keep focused in this storm.
     Next, how would you respond to a statement that although there have been extraordinarily awful popes in the past, the Church not only survived but thrived, and so the Pope should be above criticism?

Outline of the Answer
• Spiritual Battle
• The Office of the Pope
• Hatred
• Apologies

 
Wn the great spiritual battle against evil, Satan and evil spirits have the power of influence over souls in this world. Nevertheless, it’s a perfectly fair battle. Although Satan has the free will to tempt us to join him in hell, we have the free will to accept his seduction or, through faith in Christ, to reject all that would tempt us to our doom.

Thus our salvation depends on our remaining faithful to all that Christ taught us and commanded of us and that has become formulated as Christian doctrine. Christian doctrine is as old as Christ, and it has been preserved through the ages by the Tradition of the Catholic Church. If we cling to the Tradition of the Catholic Church, we have a solid rock to give us shelter from the chaos of demonic insanity raging around us.

Therefore, as the chaos of apostasy and heresy rages around you, and as demons are snatching souls on all sides, your spiritual task is to reject anything that contradicts the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Maybe the demons are gloating now that they have snatched someone big, but don’t let them snatch you. For the most part, your rejection of error must be done silently in your living a holy lifestyle of chastity, humility, modesty, prayerfulness, and detachment from the vanity and pride of the world.

If anyone challenges you, say, “You can reject the Tradition of the Catholic Church if you want, but just remember that in doing this you’re risking everything, even everlasting life, for the sake of nothing more than your own personal convenience and self-gratification. If you are wrong, the demons will gloat. But it’s your soul, not mine. Do what you want.”

 
The Office of the Pope

In all of this, we owe respect to the office of the Pope, but, when the man filling that office makes errors, we need, for the sake of our own souls, to admit that he is wrong.

  

Consider an example from aviation. When aircraft fly in formation, the lead airplane provides direction to all the other airplanes who must follow the lead in every maneuver. Sadly, though, in the course of aviation history there have been many cases when the lead pilot became disoriented and flew into the ground—and all the aircraft in the formation followed to their own doom. If any one of the aircraft had been able to recognize the danger and break away at the last moment, however, it could have been saved. 

  

For the sake of our souls, then, each one of us must take personal responsibility for avoiding sin, regardless of who may be providing guidance to us. Even when I give spiritual guidance to my clients I do not say, “Do what I tell you.” Instead I make recommendations, and then I say, “Go and pray about it, and then do what you want to do.” [1] Always remember that when you have to stand before Christ in judgment it won’t do you any good to say, “But so-and-so told me to do such-and-such.” Your judgment will be based on the fact that you (regardless of who influenced you) of your own free will chose to do such-and-such.[2]  

Consequently, even though we know that the Church can survive bad popes, the danger of papal error is that bad guidance can lead myriads of souls into temptation and doom. Only when you can say, “The Pope has departed from Church Tradition and is wrong about this matter, and so I must not follow him to my doom,” can you avoid being led into temptation.

Read an excerpt from a sermon by Saint Augustine
about this matter

As for other souls, their salvation is their responsibility, not yours—but your choice to resist temptation and live a holy life can be a holy influence on them.Remember, it’s far easier to criticize someone for being a heretic than it is to live a holy life yourself. And it’s far easier to hate than it is to love.

 
Hatred

Therefore, be careful that in your rejection of error you do not fall into hatred for the person espousing the error. To hate someone is to want harm to come to that person. Hate can take many forms, so let’s be clear about what it is and isn’t.

It’s not hatred to say that behaviors contrary to Christian doctrine are sins. Nor is it hatred to say that someone professing to be a Christian and who has strayed from Church Tradition has fallen into heresy or apostasy. Nor is it hatred to warn someone that he or she has strayed from Church Tradition. None of these things is hatred because the ultimate intent is not to harm another but to correct error.

It’s also not hatred to criticize publicly a person’s public performance, or to criticize privately the behavior of someone such as a parent, so long as the intent is to state facts dispassionately and not to insult the person.

It is hatred in the heart to wish harm to befall others. It is hatred in the heart to curse others silently. It is hatred in the heart to fantasize about committing acts of insult or violence. These acts of hatred are venial sins, and they can be remitted through interior contrition. But if through lack of contrition they linger in the heart, they become unconscious resentments that act like poison in your own heart. Thus even though hatred in the heart only fantasizes about harm to others, the harm to yourself is real.

Hatred becomes mortal sin when it becomes an outward act. To curse someone, to insult someone to his or her face, to disparage someone’s character through social media, to send hate mail, to spread lies, to assault others, to incite violence or damage property in revenge—all these are grave sins. They cause real harm to others, and they also poison you.

Real Christians renounce hate and want only good for others, and to want good for others means only one thing: to wish their salvation. Real Christians, in compassion for sinners, pray for the enlightenment and repentance of sinners so that the sinners can experience God’s mercy. Mercy is for the repentant; it’s not something to hand out like candy even to those who have no contrition for their sins.

  
Apologies

Nevertheless, through the ages many individuals in the Church have forsaken compassion and have fallen into hatred for those who commit sin. Hatred is wrong, period. If it becomes mortal sin it requires contrition, confession, and, where possible, an apology.[3]

But the converse is also true: those who have committed hatred against the Church, even if it’s because they were hated by individuals in the Church, owe the Church an apology.

 

Who wrote this web page?
 

Notes

1. I say this, though, with the understanding that clients will reject any “guidance” from their prayer that contradicts the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Never forget that what we hear in prayer can be deception by demons.

2. An exception here is a religious bound by formal vows of obedience to a superior or spiritual director.

3.For example, if you curse a stranger in the street, when you come to your senses it may not be possible to go back and apologize.

 


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