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Questions and Answers

Lawyer: most likely the lawyer is training his children well but I give up. So what happens now if parents messed up their children? Is it a life sentence to hell?

Outline of the Answer
• Unconscious Deceit
• Worldly Vanity
• Perversion
• The Conditions of Discipleship
• Raising Children Properly
• Paying the Price

No one goes to hell who truly loves God. Of course, many individuals fool themselves into believing they love God—just as they deceive the world around them into believing they love God—when they are really doing many things contrary to love that only push God away. In fact, that’s one of the purposes of this website, to reveal the psychology of such unconscious deceit.

Worldly Vanity

Saint Teresa of Avila, for example, lived for 20 years as a nun before she discovered real love. She spent the early years of her vocation engaged in vain gossip, attractions to worldly status, and superficial prayer—until an experience of mystical love set her heart on fire. Finally understanding what it means to stand in the real presence of Our Lord, she set about reforming her own life, along with her own religious order.


Saint Catherine of Genoa grew up with a yearning for holiness but once she got married she turned from God into a life of perversion. After about ten years of self-indulgent “love” for the world, she suddenly had visions of God’s pure and patient love for her. And this is how she responded:


Lord! I give myself to Thee. I know not what I am fitted for but to make a hell by myself alone. O Lord! I desire to make this compact with Thee: I will give this sinful being of mine into Thy hands, for Thou alone canst hide it in Thy mercy, and so dispose of me that nothing of myself can anymore be seen. Occupy me wholly with Thy love, which will extinguish in me every other love and keep me wholly lost in Thee, holding me so engrossed by Thee that I shall find neither time nor place for self.


—Saint Catherine of Genoa
Spiritual Dialog, First Part,
Chapter XII

The Conditions of Discipleship

Now, the example of the saints might sound like a radical proposal to many persons today—especially those under the pernicious influence of liberal, watered-down “Christianity”—yet remember what Christ told us Himself about the conditions of discipleship:

Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

—Matthew 10:37-39

Raising Children Properly

In regard to your question, then, this all means that if parents want to raise children properly, it is necessary to love God more than they love their children, and more than they love their life, and more than they love their work in the world. By loving God as Saint Catherine describes, parents make it possible to show their children how to love and to serve God. Otherwise, the parents botch the whole job.

If, after living a life of self-indulgent “love” for the world, you finally discover that you have botched the job of raising your children, then you have one choice: return to God as Saint Catherine describes. In other words, take that cross you wear around your neck like a piece of jewelry and start carrying it.

This necessitates about three steps:


Make reparation to God for your past mistakes, and for the sins your children have committed as a result of your failure to direct them properly. And by making this reparation to God you make it possible for your children to recognize real love and to return to God as well.



Admit openly to your children that your previous behavior was wrong, and that you’re sorry for the mistakes you made. Much of the psychopathology of those who feel victimized derives from their unconscious desire to show the world how much they have been abused and to hear someone acknowledge their pain. Anyone who has ever been injured, therefore, really wants nothing more than to hear the one who hurt him admit he was wrong and to apologize. So give your children the honesty they deserve.


Set about living a truly holy life, free of every shred of hypocrisy that your children can point to in scorn. In all of this, pray for your children with the intensity of Saint Monica and Saint Rita. After heartfelt contrition, much sacrifice and prayer, deep sorrow, and many tears, you might find your children coming around back to the Church.

Paying the Price

This is all a heavy price to pay for your past mistakes. But if you don’t pay the price, you will spend the rest of your life getting angry at anyone—including God Himself—who points out your self-deceit. And being angry at God is, well, not the path to heaven.


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.


Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. 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 donít see living faith. They donít see protection from evil. They donít see genuine, fruitful devotion. They donít 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 credibilityóand 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. Letís bring them back.

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