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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Recommended Reading

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.

—2 Timothy 4:3

 

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Introduction | Primary Readings | Additional Readings: Saints | Additional Readings: General |
Additional Readings: My own books

 
AFTER the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, when illiteracy became the norm of the general population, the average Christian depended on icons and preaching for guidance in the faith. And for centuries thereafter, even with the Renaissance in the West, lay Catholics depended on educated clerics for religious instruction.

Now that’s all well and good, except for the fact that when the clerics get it wrong, everybody suffers. And that is precisely the case in the modern world. Most priests today feed their flocks little of any holy substance but offer them, day after day, the spiritual equivalent of potato chips and soda pop—or, as it is in many parishes, coffee and donuts. Furthermore, religious education has, more often than not, fallen into the hands of those who dissent from the true faith. Religious educators, seduced by the social world around them, like the ancient Hebrews embracing the idols and abominations of the heathen lands around them, now place their “faith” in the diversity of secular values derived from humanistic psychology. And all the while the bishops, like shepherds terrified of the wolves, run from the cross with their tails between their legs.

Do you know how people often snicker when they hear the words “military intelligence,” thinking it to be an oxymoron? Well, true Catholics feel the same way when they hear a reference to “Catholic education.” And, even more sadly, especially in the US, the same is true of the words, “holy bishop.”

So I will say it plainly, and yet with tears and sadness: if you think that being a good Christian means no more than going to church on Sunday, praying the Rosary, and then enjoying yourself the rest of the time, and if you’re not willing to spend serious time in prayer and reading spiritual texts by giving up social media, TV, movies, video games, and constant texting on your mobile device, then you’re in serious trouble.

“What’s wrong with these things?”

“They corrupt your mind and lead it astray by opening it to demonic influence—and you won’t even be aware that it’s occurring.”

“That’s ridiculous. I use Facebook and Twitter and watch TV and movies all the time, and I don’t see anything wrong with them!”

“That’s what I just told you.”

So, do you get it? We’re all in danger of having our minds snatched by evil, and most of us don’t even realize it—even those who have already been snatched.

But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. . . . For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
 

— 2 Timothy 3:14–15; 4:3–5

 

Primary Readings

Read this book to learn the essential facts of the Christian faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance With the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II, 2nd edition (Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 2000).

Paperback ISBN: 0-87973-976-2

 

Read this book to make the Bible easy to comprehend.

A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture

Bishop Frederick Justus Knecht, D.D. A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture
TAN Books and Publishers

Paperback ISBN: 0-89555-757-6

If you need help interpreting the Bible, in simple, understandable language, this is it.

 

Use this book to help make prayer a foundation of your daily life.

Christian Prayer

Christian Prayer [the one-volume edition of the Liturgy of the Hours]
Catholic Book Publishing Corp.

ISBN: 0-89942-406-6

Use the four-volume edition if you are familiar with it.

 

Read this book to understand and conform to the will of God.

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure and Blessed Claude de la Colombière. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence / The Secret of Peace and Happiness.
TAN Books and Publishers

Paperback ISBN: 0-89555-216-7

Extracts from the writings of two influential religious writers and spiritual directors from the 17th century.

 

Read this book to learn the basic simplicity of applying Christian ideals in daily life.

The Imitation of Christ

Thomas à Kempis. The Imitation of Christ, trans. William Creasy (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1989).

Paperback ISBN: 0-87793-411-8

There are many versions of this timeless classic, and, in my opinion, this is the best.

 

Read this book to learn the core principles of genuine prayer from the heart.

The Art of Prayer

Compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valmo. The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, trans. E. Kadloubovsky and E. M. Palmer (NY: Faber and Faber).

Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0-571-19165-9

The book draws heavily on the writing of Theophan the Recluse, a 19th century Russian Orthodox bishop and spiritual director. In my opinion, no other writer—Eastern or Western, Orthodox or Catholic—equals Bishop Theophan’s spiritual and psychological clarity, and his ability to never miss the point about prayer.

 

Additional Readings: Saints

Read this book to learn how to put into practice a genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 

True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin

St. Louis Marie de Montfort. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin (Bay Shore, NY: Montfort Publications, 1980).

Hardcover ISBN: 0-910984-49-2

Contains the Consecration To Jesus through Mary.

 

Read this book to learn about the mystic process of “dying to the self” through holy love.

St. John of the Cross. “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” and “The Dark Night.” In The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, trans. K. Kavanaugh and O. Rodriguez
ICS Publications

Hardcover ISBN: 0-935216-15-4

 

Read this book to learn from a practical, down-to-earth woman how the mystical effects of divine love transformed her life.

St. Teresa of Avila. “The Way of Perfection” and “The Interior Castle.” In The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume Two, trans. K. Kavanaugh and O. Rodriguez
ICS Publications

Paperback ISBN: 0-9600876-6-4

 

Read this book to learn how a life of devout Christian love reflects Christ’s own suffering, sacrifice, and obedience.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The Autobiography of Saint Margaret Mary
TAN Books and Publishers

Paperback ISBN: 0-89555-295-7

Intimate insights from the saint to whom Our Lord gave the Sacred Heart revelations.

 

Read this book to learn the details about Purgatory and Hell.

St. Catherine & Don Cattaneo Marabotto. The Spiritual Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa
TAN Books and Publishers

Paperback ISBN: 0-89555-355-X

This great lay mystic “wrote the book” about Purgatory.

 

Read this book to learn how divine mercy becomes real in everyday life.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Diary
Association of Marian Helpers

Paperback ISBN: 0-944203-04-3

The Apostle of The Divine Mercy records Jesus message of mercy in a diary.

 

Additional Readings: General

Read these books and be enthralled as the meticulous details of Biblical events allow salvation history to come alive in its full human and divine reality.

Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations
TAN Books and Publishers

Paperback ISBN:
(Vol. 1) 0-89555-787-8
(Vol. 2) 0-89555-787-6
(Vol. 3) 0-89555-787-4
(Vol. 4) 0-89555-790-8

One of the greatest treasures of Catholic mystical writing shows “how the Roman Catholic Church faithfully follows the teachings and administers the Sacraments of Jesus Christ Himself.”

 

Read this book to get a sense of how Jesus may have actually spoke and taught on a day-to-day basis.

Through the Eyes of Jesus

C. Alan Ames. Through the Eyes of Jesus.
Touch of Heaven

Paperback ISBN: 0-9748225-3-1

Episodes from the daily life of Jesus, seen through His eyes—as revealed to a modern visionary.

Read an excerpt from the book
(from the publisher’s website)

 

Read this book to learn the historical details about the mysteries recalled by the Rosary.

Johnson, Kevin Orlin. Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads (Dallas: Pangæus Press, 1996).

Paperback ISBN: 0-9653660-1-4

A comprehensive reference for the history and meaning of the Rosary.

 

Read this book to learn the tell-tale signs of genuine mystic phenomena.

Johnson, Kevin Orlin. Apparitions: Mystic Phenomena and What They Mean (Dallas: Pangæus Press, 1998).

Paperback ISBN: 0-9653660-0-6

The only comprehensive reference book that puts supernatural events clearly in their Biblical context.

 

Additional Readings: My own books

Anger and Forgiveness (3rd Edition)

Most of us carry more anger in our hearts than we are capable of admitting even to ourselves. As a result, we often feel stuck in lives of unfulfilled potential, unending resentments, and physical illness. In this book, Dr. Richmond explains the deep psychological implications of anger and forgiveness and shows how to turn the emotional wounds of daily life into psychological growth.

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Psychology from the Heart

Psychology has too often been preoccupied with the pursuit of happiness, and it has missed the point about helping individuals understand life and find a personally meaningful—and practical—sense of direction. Psychology itself cannot offer any meaning to life, but it can help individuals disentangle themselves from the snare of illusory social identifications that keep us trapped in spiritual blindness and pull us backwards into self-destruction.

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Healing (2nd Edition)

There is nothing wrong with psychological defenses. In fact, they 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. 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.

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Disasters and Trauma

An event is traumatic because it disrupts your previously secure sense of self. Consider that wild animals live with a constant, sharp awareness of perpetual danger, yet most people live with a naive—and deceptive—sense of safety and security to the point of denying their basic vulnerability and fragmented sense of self. So when something disastrous happens, the psychological damage from the shattering of your illusions about life and identity may be more problematic than any physical damage.

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Falling Families, Fallen Children

We see ourselves as devout Catholics, but what do our children see? Do our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility, children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.

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Though Demons Gloat

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.

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Beyond the Veil of Lust

This book is about a veil—the veil of illusion that draws you into lust and temptation, day after day. Armed with the truth herein, you will be able to pray for the strength and courage to persevere through your trials into confident trust in divine protection. You will learn to seek out the true humility of confidence, not the false satisfaction of competing with others to make yourself feel strong and powerful. You will learn to admit your wretchedness and to seek the grace to love, and to pray for, everyone—even your enemies—despite the mistreatment you received as a child and continue to receive, even now, as an adult. Thus you will learn to seek the desire for holy love that will grow in you and overshadow every other desire. Do this and you will not only understand love, you will be living it.

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TRUE DISCIPLES . . . will point out the narrow way to God in pure truth according to the holy Gospel, and not according to the maxims of the world. Their hearts will not be troubled, nor will they show favour to anyone; they will not spare or heed or fear any man, however powerful he may be. They will have the two-edged sword of the Word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. . . . By the will of God, Mary is to prepare them to extend His rule over the impious and unbelievers.

—Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, no. 59

 

 

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