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True Love,
Catholic Psychology,
and a “Test”

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Page Contents: Introduction / “I’m not a bad person.” / Free Will / Finding the Truth: True Love / “Why did Christ have to die?” / Blood and Life / Our Broken Hearts / Obedient Service /
A Spiritual-Psychological Test / Catholic Links

 

 
THROUGH the ages, the mystic tradition of the Catholic Church has offered to us all that we need for personal growth, heightened wisdom, and enhanced interpersonal effectiveness. Through deep faith—lived consistently in a holy and devout life-style—common hassles and anxieties of life are transformed into true peace—and true love.

 
“I’m not a bad person.”

Contrary to what the average Catholic learns in the average parish, living a fruitful holy Christian life is not easy. A true Christian life is hard work because it requires constant awareness of God’s presence, constant heartfelt prayer for God’s guidance and protection, and a constant spiritual battle with an increasingly corrupt and evil secular world.

Yet, when asked about their basic psychological attitude about life, many persons will say, “I just want to feel good about myself. I want to feel loved. I want a sexual partner. I want to have fun and enjoy life. I’m not a bad person.”

On the surface, according to contemporary social standards, this attitude may seem benign and innocent. But it has deeper social implications that aren’t readily seen.

The fact is, in many of our attempts to enjoy ourselves we end up stepping all over other persons.

In seeking wealth we envy and compete with our neighbors, and we exploit and deceive the underprivileged.

In seeking entertainment we encourage an industry that seduces our entire culture with frivolity, vanity, and pride.


  

In seeking sexual pleasure we spread emotional wounds, physical disease, lust, infidelity, divorce, pornography, and prostitution, along with unwanted pregnancies, abortion, foster care horrors, and child abuse.

In seeking excitement we create addictions and brew a criminal underground to distribute the materials of addiction.

In seeking happiness we’re like the eye of a hurricane, seemingly calm and peaceful, yet blind to the storm spreading chaos all around us.

And that’s what sin is all about. It’s about being completely blind to the bad things we do to others as we go about trying to feel good about ourselves. And yet we’re not bad persons.

 
Free Will

We are not bad persons. God created us as good beings to share in His great glory through our free will. Yet because of what theology calls Original Sin we find ourselves separated from a full knowledge of God—and from genuine love. After all, if we really knew love we wouldn’t step all over others and use them as objects for our own satisfaction, would we?

  

You could program your computer to say, “I love you” every morning when you turn it on, but that synthesized message wouldn’t be love, would it? A computer simply does what it is told to do, and, philosophically, if you cannot say “No” then your saying “Yes” is meaningless.

Therefore, love must be a free choice—an act of will.

Consequently, many things that we commonly call “love” are not love at all. Infatuation. Obsession. Fatal attraction. Lust. We call them love but they have nothing to do with true love because they enslave us to illusions.

  

And so, when God created us to share in His glory, He gave us free will, so that we would be capable of true love. But with free will comes the ability to renounce love. That is what sin amounts to: it’s a renunciation of love; it’s a turning away from moral responsibility to others that ultimately results in a separation from God.

So here we are. We’re not bad persons. And yet we have the freedom to do bad things to others without even seeing it. How, then, shall we ever see the truth? How shall we ever know true love?

 
Finding the Truth: True Love

God is love. And God created Heaven and Earth to share in His love. God did not create toys to play with or slaves to boss around. He created creatures who could share in His love as equals, so to speak, in love. He gave us His love so that we could be love.

Because of the blindness that characterizes our separation from God, however, we can see nothing but our own self-indulgent illusions. Left to ourselves, we have nothing but an empty world of social constructions to give us comfort. Left to ourselves, we have nothing but pride, and in that pride we are easily deceived by evil. Left to ourselves, therefore, we are lost in slavery to sin. Therefore, only God Himself can show us what true love is.

Now, if God were to appear to us in His full glory, we would surely drop down before Him in terror. But we wouldn’t necessarily love Him. True love, after all, is an act of self-sacrifice offered in free will, not something engendered by fear.

  

Psychologically,  fear  refers to a narcissistic concern about possible damage to our pride and safety. In contrast,  fear of God  refers to our humble awe before God’s great glory and mercy. Thus, whereas psychological fear pulls us away from God, fear of God leads us directly into the embrace of divine love.

  

So, in order to teach us true love, God chose to show it to us through the life of a simple, poor man—a life which ended with the most humiliating execution known to humanity.

It was as if God said to all bystanders, those present and those yet to be, “If you can love Him, My Son, this humble, broken man hanging in weakness on that cross out of love for you, you can love anything. If you can love anything, you will know true love. And if you know true love, you will finally begin to know Me.”

  

After all, what, in all its blindness, does human culture tend to value? Well, look at politics, sports, and entertainment and you will see an insatiable thirst for wealth, glamor, power, competition, and revenge. So is it any wonder that to show us true love, and to bypass all human illusions, God came to us in poverty, simplicity, weakness, and gentleness?

  

Christ took all of the insults patiently and quietly, without retaliation, all so that we could see the truth of the sin in our hearts—and repent it, in sorrow for the pain we cause to each other.

And that’s why Saint Paul said (1 Corinthians 1:23) that the crucifixion of Christ seemed like folly to the Greeks who valued the “wisdom” of natural philosophy; and to the Jews, who looked for powerful prophetic signs, the crucifixion was a stumbling block.

For neither natural wisdom nor power can illuminate their own darkness.

  

Baptism into Christ, therefore, calls us to a radical change in our being. In the language of computer technology, it’s like saying that true Christian faith is not just an “application” that we can run on our existing “operating systems”; true faith is a process that creates an entirely new operating system.

  

 
“Why did Christ have to die?”

Still, there are those who ask, “But why did Christ have to die? What does this have to do with love? Why was there bloodshed?”

The answer is threefold.

 
1. Blood and Life

Keep in mind that blood, being an essential biological aspect of life, is therefore a symbol of life itself. Consequently, to shed blood for another person means to give up one’s own life in order to rescue or preserve the life of that other person.

When Christ shed His blood for us, then, He did so in order to give us life—that is, freedom from our bondage to sin. Christ’s death was a glorious mystery that reverberated from Heaven down to earth, for “obliterating the bond [of Original Sin] against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, He also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

And so, before His death, Christ prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify You, just as You gave Him authority over all people, so that He may give eternal life to all You gave Him” (John 17:1–2).

 
2. Our “Broken” Hearts

The redemption worked in Christ’s death was an example to us. It showed us how we are capable of killing God Himself in order to preserve our own self-interests. It showed us, in a way that no event in the world has ever shown before or since, how we, in our hearts—the very hearts God has created—and through our own free will, constantly injure others and defile, mock, and execute divine love in every moment of our lives. It showed us the ugliness and sin we nurture in our own broken hearts.

So unless we choose to accept the redemption offered in His sacrifice for us—and, in humble, freely willed obedience to the will of God, die to the self-indulgent worldly attachments that nailed Him to the cross—we will never know purity of heart and true love.

  

God loves everyone, and He calls everyone into His love. But to accept this call we must give up everything that is not love.

  

This is a hard thing to accept. Many disciples abandoned Christ because of it. Even today there are those who try to make the Church “relevant” to a corrupt modern world. But Christ never said that He came to make life convenient. He came to preach the truth.

  

Christ was not a sentimentalist. Christ called everyone—and still calls everyone—to repentance. In His own time, many persons heard His call and obeyed. But there were many persons Christ refused to heal because they refused to acknowledge and repent their sins. There were many persons He refused as disciples because they sought worldly glory instead of Heavenly peace. There were many persons He criticized as hypocrites—Pharisees, Saduccees, and Herodians. Christ was not a sentimentalist who accepted everyone “as they are.” He revealed the truth of our brokenness and called everyone to repent their sins. And, ultimately, many of those He offended gathered up their grudges against Him and crucified Him.

  

Christ was not just a good man like other so-called “good men” throughout history. Many of these individuals, although praised by their cultures for being religious or political leaders who performed notable acts of social justice, were nevertheless stained with grave personal sins. Christ, however, with the purity of being true God and true man, offers us forgiveness from our sins and whose real presence remains with us always through the Sacraments. Only in the broken bread of the Eucharist can our psychological brokenness be healed.

Those who fail to preach this truth about our human brokenness and the absolute impossibility of healing ourselves through our own social identifications do no service to anyone.
 

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PSYCHOLOGY AND CATHOLICISM
 

Classical Freudian psychoanalysis is atheistic, and so is most psychotherapy today. Even though the brilliant French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan had some familiarity with Catholicism, religion has no part in his psychoanalysis either. His concept of psychoanalysis, which masterfully refined Freud’s ideas, was still a product of natural reason. But Lacan can teach Catholics much about psychology. To put it in a nutshell, Lacanian analysis ultimately shows you that all your identifications with the world are just empty illusions. So you start analysis with your identity like a precious porcelain vase, and you end the analysis as a naked man sitting alone in a pile of broken pottery. So that’s life, you learn, just a pile of illusions. “Go make something of it anyway,” you’re told.
 
So what does this have to do with Catholicism and Catholic psychologists? Well, read Saint John of the Cross and you will find that his description of spiritual purgation is, in its practical effects, quite a bit like Lacan’s philosophy. The difference between the two, of course, is Christ. Christ leads us
outside the box of natural reason. Christ begins where Lacan ends. Lacan leaves us with the stark, bare psychological truth of our broken lives. Christ—and only Christ—can heal the brokenness. And in that gap between Lacan and Christ is precisely where I locate the relation between psychology and religion. Psychology cannot heal us, but it can help us recognize just how broken we really are, and it can help us overcome our resistance to total surrender to Christ. Once we make that surrender, our healing begins. And that is precisely what Saint John of the Cross told us.

 
3. Obedient Service

Christ died also (and here’s the third part of the answer) in order to be raised again, to show us that God raises into his glory only those who, without obstinacy or presumption, without cunning or intrigue, without strife or schism or protest, empty themselves in humble service before Him.

  

Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words!

  

attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi

There will always be those who resist this, those who attack the Church from without and those who sabotage it from within. Yet the choice is simple: will you freely and totally accept the redemption from your own emptiness that is being offered to you, or will you reject it for the sake of your own convenience?

Yet, as simple as it is, the choice still requires hard work. It requires constant effort to monitor your feelings and the impulses that arise with your feelings, and to override those impulses—those signs of what you want personally—with a firm decision to live a holy lifestyle by doing God’s will. It’s all far easier to serve the devil by doing whatever you want.

So if you fail to approach your salvation with fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12b) because you aren’t willing to sacrifice everything for it—as in the parables of the treasure buried in a field and the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44–46)—then you probably don’t want it that much to begin with. But if you accept the work of your salvation, you will then, for the rest of your life, bear the sadness of a heart broken by the ignorance, apathy, and sacrilege that surround you. And yet, in the very midst of this pain, you will bear the joy of being able to say to Christ, “Thank you Lord; now I feel what You felt.” And that is true love. 

  

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask Your pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.

  

— Fátima, 1917
 

The middle character in gold is the letter Shin, which refers to the Shekinah (the Divine Presence, or Holy Spirit). When the Shekinah joins the two halves («YH» and «WH») of the Tetragrammaton, the Holy Name of God («YHWH»), it makes the unpronounceable name pronounceable, for all the characters taken together now spell Yehoshua—that is, Jesus.

 

The rest of the story . . .


 

Books and CDs about Catholic Psychology

by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

Books

e-Books

Booklets

Relaxation CD

 

Take this psychological test just for personal enlightenment . . .

Imagine that you have been imprisoned—unjustly, let us assume—and that you are scheduled to be executed later this evening. You are told that you may choose anything you want for your last meal. What do you choose?

You don’t have to tell me your answer—just keep in mind the things you would like to eat, and then click below to find out how to score your choices.

Click to Score

 

 

 


 
Catholic Links


Dioceses/Churches

 
General United States

Roman Catholic Dioceses and Parishes within the United States

Listing of Latin Mass Churches and Communities in the USA and Canada —a listing of Tridentine Masses per the 1962 Missal (celebrated under Papal Indult with permission of the local Ordinary).

Mass Times

 

San Francisco

Archdiocese of San Francisco

The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco

Eastern Catholic Center of San Francisco

 

Administrative

La Santa Sede (The Vatican)

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 

Liturgical

Concerts in Church —a declaration of the Congregation for Divine Worship, November 5, 1987.

ECCLESIA DEI  —the Apolotic Letter by John Paul II, July 1988, in which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the Church of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X (SSPX) was excommunicated for disobedience. In this letter, Pope John Paul II also expressed his guarantee of respect for the rightful aspirations of those not in schism with Rome who are dedicated to traditional liturgy; in this regard, see the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, listed below.

ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA (The Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church)  —John Paul II, April 2003

EUCHARISTIAE SACRAMENTUM (Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship)  —Promulgating the editio typica of rites for holy communion and worship of the eucharist outside Mass, 21 June 1973.

GIRM  —The English translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani). Third Typical Edition © 2002.

Posture in Catholic Liturgy  —articles from Adoremus Bulletin.

The Question of Altar Girls Revisited  by K D Whitehead.

The Real Presence Association  website has numerous links to Church documents and articles regarding issues related to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUM  —On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.

 

Formation

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter  “In 1988, Pope John Paul II canonically established the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter as a society of apostolic life and approved its constitutions.” The fraternity seeks “to reunite those who have been alienated by liturgical abuse and theological dissent by offering the sacred liturgy in all of its solemnity according to the Latin liturgical books of 1962, and by offering the faithful sound catechetical teaching within the living Tradition of the Church.”

 

Psychology

Institute for the Psychological Sciences  offers graduate training in clinical psychology that is grounded in Catholic spiritual values.

CatholicTherapists.com  offers referrals “to professionally qualified psychotherapists who incorporate the truths and teachings of Roman Catholicism into their practice.” Of course, such persons seem to be few and far between. . . . Plus, a listing does not guarantee that a psychotherapist is competent, only that he or she gives intellectual assent to four doctrinal points. As I have seen with my own eyes, there are many persons in the Church who claim to be “devout Catholics” and who still don’t have a clue about the real psychological meaning of total self-sacrifice for the sake of mystic love.

The Story of a Repentant Psychologist  —in an interview with Dr. William Marra, Dr. Coulson, a contrite Catholic psychologist, discusses his role in the destruction of Catholic religious orders, and his subsequent change of mind.

 

Reference

The New American Bible

Douay-Rheims Bible

Bible: Search for text  —uses the Revised Standard Version.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Catholic Encyclopedia Online

Code of Canon Law  —Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC)

General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours  from The Catholic Liturgical Library.

GIRM  —An English translation of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (aka GIRM).

Liturgical Calendar: Any Year  can be of help for historical or future purposes.

Liturgical Readings and Psalms  for Mass, any day of the current month, from the New American Bible.

The Summa Theologica  by St. Thomas Aquinas, in English.

Thesaurus Precum Latinarum  is a magnificent collection of Latin prayers and Latin hymns with English translations and brief commentaries.

Writings of the Fathers

 

General Resources

Adoremus Bulletin  seeks to “rediscover and restore the beauty, the holiness, the power of the Church's rich liturgical tradition while remaining faithful to an organic, living process of renewal.”

Canticle Magazine  —“The Voice of Today’s Catholic Woman.”

Catholic Educator’s Resource Center  provides resources for Catholic Education.

Catholic-Pages.com  provides current liturgical information, Catholic-related news, and thousands of original Catholic articles.

Catholic Teaching on the Angels  

Courage Apostolate  is “an apostolate of the Roman Catholic church whose purpose is to minister to those with same-sex attractions” with a focus on chaste sexual abstinence.

Our Lady’s Warriors  “is aimed specifically at defending the Catholic Faith from the errors of dissenting Catholics.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe  provides comprehensive information about the apparition at Guadalupe.

Patron Saints Index  provides “information on topics with patron saints, and profiles of those saints. Profiles have portraits, biographical information, areas of patronage, prayers, links to related sites, readings, etc.”

Scripture Catholic  provides “over 2,000 Scripture citations from the Old and New Testament that explain and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Shroud of Turin Website  “allows you to examine ... high quality photographs of the Shroud, review scientific papers and articles, find books and other information, access Shroud resources, obtain Shroud materials and even interact directly with Shroud researchers.”

 



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ON THIS PAGE, you will find a beginning to your search for clear information about Catholic psy-chology and its applications (variously known as Catholic psychotherapy, Catholic therapy, or Catholic counseling) ar-ticulately explained within the tradition of the Catholic mystics.

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Troubled by
INSOMNIA–ANXIETY–TENSION?

A Guided Imagery Relaxation CD that leads you into a healing contemplative trust in God. Faithful to the Catholic tradition.

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A 12 page booklet that tells the truth about masturbation and can help you resist temptations.

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Catholic Sexuality

When they tell you that the Catholic Church is wrong about sexuality

A 19 page booklet that can help you understand how friends, teachers, professors, the entertainment industry—and even priests—can lead you away from God and right into sin under the subtly deceptive guise of “being compassionate.”

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Psychology is a complex subject, and many issues are interrelated. And so, even though you may find a topic of interest on one particular page, an exploration of the other pages will deepen your understanding of the human mind and heart.

Psychological Practice
To Become a Psychologist
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Throughout this website, my goal is simply to help you realize that although life can be painful, unfair, and brutal, it doesn’t have to be misery.
 
The practice of good clinical psychology involves something—call it comfort—which does not mean sympathy or soothing, and it certainly doesn’t mean to have your pain “taken away.” It really means to be urged on to take up the cup of your destiny, with courage and honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

his is a FREEWILL WEBSITE with NO ADVERTISING. If you find this page to be informative and helpful, please send a donation in appreciation, even if it’s only a few dollars, to help offset my costs in making this website available, without charge or advertising, to you and to all.

 


 

A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

www.GuideToPsychology.com

 

Copyright © 1997-2014 Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
San Francisco

 

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