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Does emotional suffering hinder spiritual growth?

Q: Dear Dan, since many people may suffer from some level of emotional immaturity due to childhood experiences, what effect does this have on becoming spiritually mature?

By Sukanto Debnath from Hyderabad, India (......1) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsProblems such as shyness, depression, lack of self-confidence, sensitivity to criticism, etc. affect trust in God and being able to benefit from spiritual direction.  What advice would you give those are in such a situation who are seeking spiritual direction but are finding it difficult to make that phone call or to feel comfortable confiding in another person (assuming, of course, that they already pray and are frequenting the sacraments)?  What encouragement for those who are presently in spiritual direction? Any words of wisdom for (or from) spiritual directors who work with them?

And for those who are thinking of some type of mental health counseling or therapy in addition to SD, what should they look for in a therapist? Probably not someone who identifies himself as a ‘former Catholic’? Thanks for considering these questions from someone who’s a bit burdened but still hopeful. 

A: Dear friend, I couldn’t sleep last night and so I opened your question at a time when all was quiet. It seems the Lord desired to remind me of my former challenges and His grace and deliverance. A few decades ago, I struggled a great deal with profound wounds from my youth. I was moved to pray for you with a sense of joy because I know that the Lord has plans for you for good, for freedom. It is true that emotional challenges can have a significant influence on spiritual growth. That said, they can and will be overcome if you can muster the courage to fully engage with the work He desires to do in and through you. My most basic recommendation is that you meditate on the repeated Gospel admonitions against fear. Many times Jesus says to us, “Do not be afraid…” He is trustworthy. He will will only give you what you can handle. He is the embodiment of perfect gentleness and love. Rest in His care and entrust your healing to Him.

Specific recommendations for you:

The first thing I would recommend you do is pick up a book entitled Unbound by Neal Lozano. Pray that the Lord would reveal to you the ways in which he desires to see you healed and then engage in the reading. I promise you will be changed by it.

You obviously see spiritual direction as a huge leap for you. This is normal for those who truly understand the serious nature of these relationships and the commitment required to make them successful. In my book, Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God you will find some measure of comfort through a deeper understanding of the entire process of spiritual direction. I wrote it for people like you, and me. It will help demystify the entire process and will also provide you with good direction between now and when you do engage with a director.

Thirdly, I would recommend that you pursue spiritual friendship with another woman who takes their faith seriously and is working hard at it. See if she might be willing to get together monthly or even better, weekly. The best approach with these relationships is to engage with a spiritual reading program. You could pick your own book or join our book club and follow Vicky’s lead. The best way to do this is simply to agree to read a portion for each designated period and then share what the Lord has revealed to each of you through the readings. The approach should be very gentle and non-judgemental. The goal is to simply get used to the idea of reading with the Lord, listening to His voice, and sharing what is on your heart.

If you can do these things over the next year or so, you will find the next step to be fairly natural and without as much stress. I have also asked Becky to engage in the com-box of this post. You might even consider contacting her. She knows much about overcoming emotional wounds and working through the specifics of the challenges you mention.

Wisdom for Directors in Dealing With People Who Have Suffered a Great Deal of Emotional Trauma:

The best book written on this topic for Spiritual Directors is Through Wind and Waves – On Being a Spiritual Guide by Francis Fernandez-Carvajal. Fr. Francis has a deep understanding of the need to be gentle and patient with those under his care. His advice is outstanding.

Catholic Counseling or Therapy:

These can be very helpful but I would recommend you stick with solid Catholics (as you suggest). You can find them through an organization called Catholic Therapists. In my book I also provide a guide for choosing a spiritual director – you can use that same guide to find a good therapist that you can trust. Therapists who do not share are faith are very limited in their ability to understand and aid the healing process. The ultimate power and source of true healing come from Christ. Without Him, we are not likely to find anything beyond temporal coping mechanisms that can help but are far less than all that God has for us as we seek Him.

Thank you for your question and for persisting in your journey to God. Be at peace. He will heal each wound with the greatest care and love. Be assured of my prayers.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs. If you have an interest in having Dan come speak at your parish or Catholic event or group, contact us at rcspiritualdirection@gmail.com or call 818-646-7729.

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  • Becky313

    I do not hesitate to second Dan’s recommendation of the book “UNBOUND”.  I was wary at first because this is not something that I am familiar with, but I received it as part of the aftercare packet when I went on a “Grief to Grace” retreat, and it IS from the gospel.  At the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudging I have almost finished the book, have been inspired to embrace the teaching, and have found healing and/or freedom from things that just kept hanging on.

    The book is about freeing ourselves from the influence of evil spirits.  This can be scary and intimidating……but we need to remember that Jesus passed on this ability to his disciples, not just the Apostles, but all His disciples as part of their work in evangelization.  If you desire more information about how this fits with Catholic teaching the same author has a book titled “Resisting The Devil” this has brought me a lot of peace in regard to using the practices in the book, “UNBOUND”.
    http://www.amazon.com/Resisting-Devil-Catholic-Perspective-Deliverance/dp/1592767095/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353780662&sr=1-1&keywords=Resisting+the+devil

    You can reach me here if you have any questions or just need a friendly ear. rebelbecca13@yahoo.com

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Right – and just to be clear, I am not implying that the person who asked the question is possessed. However, the enemy can work to influence us through the many doorways that sin provides. Often, childhood trauma can be a doorway of influence and lies that trap us and subjugate us to a life that is far less than what Christ has for us in the truth.

      • Becky313

        “Trapped” is a very good description Dan, and I think it’s important to mention that these are NOT necessarily things we have ’caused’ or somehow brought upon ourselves.  What I have found is that things that were done to me as a child – that I had no control over – have opened doors, and I was totally unaware of what was happening.  Patterns of negative thought. low self-esteem, and many others. I don’t have a problem relating to a ‘spirit’ of joy or humility as being gifts from God…….but had never thought about it being true for negative things like the spirit of control, or vanity, or unforgiveness (toward others AND myself) and I honestly have a two page list of things I took in front of the Blessed Sacrament and went through the Five Keys with Jesus. 

        I think of the influence of these spirits kind of like cobwebs….or shadows that have remained even after I have made significant progress in battling certain sins and experiencing much growth in my spiritual life.

        These are things that have been so much a part of my life (because of my abuse) that I thought they WERE part of me.

        I am at a loss to explain what has happened to me since going through this book and using the practices presented in UNBOUND….some of it is so subtle I am hardly aware of it……..yet I know in my heart that something has changed…..and that God led me to this information at just the moment I needed it.

        This makes me think of the scripture….(Liz, can you tell me what one?), where the king doesn’t want to go bathe in the river (7 times) because it is so simple he doesn’t think it could heal him of …leprosy(?)

        God is good! 

        • LizEst

          Becky, to answer your question, that would be the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 (Most of chapter 5).

          • Becky313

            Thanks Liz!!  :)

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/SOPXL2WN336ZLDBAF52ACVWMUE Marina

            ok, I have read all the comments I feel the same way rejuection and was told it stared form the whomb but I am confused which book do I pick up and where can I fine a catholic theapist? thanks

          • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Unbound by Neal Lozano and http://www.catholictherapists.com

        • Mea_Culpa99

          This book sounds like an encouraging lead, but I have read numerous Catholic books on being ‘freed’ from evil influences and negative patterns of thought, and have yet to discover one that deals sufficiently with the inability to forgive oneself.  I have read and been told many times that the Lord has forgiven me in Confession, that the past is unchangeable and I should look to the things that are ahead, etc.  However, I have not been able to find a resource that assists one who is truly guilty of serious sins and has caused serious consequences in the lives of others.  I cannot find advice on how to ‘live with one’s mistakes.’  Theoretical example: How does a person who has killed someone when drinking and driving live with that experience after Confession?  How can you possibly ever find peace in life, and/or be a ‘joyful’ Christian?  If a person were guilty of such a thing, how could an individual ever feel that any good works that he or she does amounts to anything, when because of their previous choices someone’s life is lost, with the onsequences obviously being ‘undoable’?  I have been seeing a priest/psychotherapist for some time but he is not successful in this particular area.  Any suggestions?

          • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Dear Friend – I am sorry for your suffering. What specific process have you been through to deal with negative thought patterns?

          • Mea_Culpa99

            As I previously mentioned, I’ve read a plethora of information on inner healing, but nothing seems to address my specific problem – how do you deal with guilt when it involves tragic consequences that were a result of one’s free actions?  My priest/therapist tells me that the Lord loves sinners but that doesn’t help.  The problem is not that I acted out of ignorance (such as before my conversion) but when I did know better.  I often cry and tell the Lord that I know I’m useless and that some of the people closest to me would have been better off not having met me because then they wouldn’t have suffered as a result of my sins and mistakes.  I have even prayed in the past for a terminal illness, but obviously that has not as yet been granted . . .

          • Becky Ward

            I know a very good priest who teaches that if we took ALL the sins that human beings ever have or ever will commit, and wrap them all together…they equal only ONE LITTLE DROP in the OCEAN of God’s mercy.

            Sometimes there is an element of pride involved in our not being able to forgive.  We cling to the pain and self-degradation as a way of punishing ourselves.

            I finally found a way to get past this when I realized that forgiveness is an aspect of God’s love for us.  By refusing to forgive myself, not only was I setting myself up as being more important than God (although this was not a conscious idea), but I was also rejecting His love.

            It is the devil who plants thoughts like, “No, I am too bad to be forgiven…. I am worthless…….look what I did!!”

            We killed His Son, and in return we have been given salvation.  Your sin is not so big as this!

            I’m praying for you!

          • Mea_Culpa99

            Thank you, Becky, for your kind comments.  I do understand the principle of God’s infinite and magnimonous mercy.  What I’m ultimately struggling with is the consequences of my sin; I feel at least partially responsible for the suicide of someone very close and very dear to me.  I may be forgiven for that, but what about my dear one who no longer lives?  And though I try to be confident in His mercy, I do not know if my dear one is at least in purgatory (not a practicing Catholic, died withouth Last Rites).  I cannot find comfort in anything regarding this situation, noone seems to have an answer.

            Thanks,
            Mea Culpa

          • Becky Ward

            It is a terribly painful situation I am sure.  Yet this is a question that you will not have answered until your own death.  God knows our hearts….I would suggest that you offer Him, in this season of Lent, (and beyond) your life, well lived FOR HIM….for yourself AND for your friend….who cannot do this himself.

            God allowed Moses to ‘stand in the breach’  for the Israelites.  he allows us to do the same.  God is outside of time.  He can see all the good works you will do on behalf of your friend over the course of your life, and He can apply the merit or grace to your friend at the moment of his/her death.

            Also know that we do not know the mind of souls who take their own life.  If your friend was not fully aware of the consequences of their actions….or was even temporarily unable to think rationally…….there is every reason to hope that you will see them in heaven.

            God has allowed it……..it really stinks!! but it is your reality.  Is your denying yourself forgiveness doing anybody any good? 

            I would suggest that you make it a personal devotion to pray for all those souls who have taken their own lives….and for the healing of the family and friends they have left behind.

          • Mea_Culpa99

            Dear Becky,

            Thank you again for your comments.  I find your insights encouraging, such as offering prayer and good works for my friend as God, as you say, is outside of time.  I also like the suggestion about praying for other souls who lives ended the same way and for their loved ones.  From the beginning I knew I could never  ‘transform’ the situation (as others have often done in tragic circumstances) by becoming an advocate for suicide/mental health awareness – the whole thing is all too painful – but in this way I could be a spiritual advocate for such persons.  I will certainly ponder these things that you have suggested.
            Pax,
            Mea Culpa

          • Becky Ward

            Good.  Please do come back to this post in a few months or so and let us know how things are working out for you.  There are many people here praying for you….and for me…..and for all who suffer.

            May Christ’s Peace invade your soul and bring you healing!

          • Mea_Culpa99

            Becky,

            All prayers are greatly appreciated!

            Thanks again,
            Mea Culpa

  • http://profiles.google.com/teresambank Teresa Bank

    I survived a great deal of childhood abuse and as a result I hardened my heart and was determined never to love anyone or to let anyone love me. I left the Church when I was 15, shortly after my father died. I did not return until I was 41. During those dark years when I was away, I was very angry, bitter and irrational on the subject of Christianity. I wanted nothing to do with it. When God called me back I reluctantly went, thinking that if I went to Mass once that would be the end of it. Well, 6 years later I am happy to say I am a different person, and for the first time in my life, I am becoming the person God always wanted me to be. Coming back to the Church was not easy for me because I had so much grief that I had never dealt with. Grief over my lost childhood, grief because my parents were unable to be good, loving parents, grief that I had spent so long outside of the Church.

    I knew I wanted to have a spiritual director, but I was afraid to be completely honest with anyone about my past life or to face some of the worst events of my childhood. I prayed for a spiritual director but no one miraculously appeared. I kept praying but resigned myself to the possibility of not finding anyone.

    One day, during a particularly dark time for me, several years after I had returned to the Church, I felt the sudden overpowering urge to go to confession, so I waited until after Mass and approached the priest. I didn’t know him as he was new to the parish. It wasn’t even my parish, but it was where I sometimes went for weekday Mass. I had never asked a priest to hear my confession before as I usually went during scheduled confession hours. I was very nervous.

    I asked him if he would hear my confession and he said he had already promised to hear a couple of others before me and he had another appointment but he would try to fit me in. He did fit me in and I made him late for his next appointment but he didn’t seem to mind. I liked what he said to me in confession.

    A few months later I called him and asked to schedule a confession with him. We met and he heard my confession and I got up my nerve and asked him to be my regular confessor. He agreed. Over time, our meetings became longer and longer, until one day I realized we had met for an hour. My confessions certainly weren’t taking that long and I realized that he had been giving me spiritual direction for some time.

    For me, it was easier to begin this type of relationship in confession because I felt safe that nothing I said would be repeated. I know that spiritual directors won’t repeat anything I say, either, but I wasn’t self-confident enough at the time to come right out and ask for spiritual direction. This priest knew that about me and he gently guided me along. That was three years ago and my spiritual life has matured and continues to mature.

    During this same time I met and became very good friends with a woman who is a bit farther along the spiritual path than I am. We have had many great discussions about spirituality and have learned much from each other.

    I have also read Unbound and I highly recommend it. I have not been to one of the Unbound conferences but I would like to go some day.

    The best advice I can give you is to keep praying for a good spiritual director and trust in God to provide what you truly need, not what you may think you want.

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Teresa – awesome story and input. Thank you for sharing about God’s work in you!

  • Pingback: Does Emotional Suffering Hinder Spiritual Growth | Big Pulpit

  • Sefakor

    Just got back from Mass and was thinking about the need to talk to somebody as I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately…it is all just not making sense, I have been praying a lot and not getting any answers. I have always wanted spiritual direction but I see how busy my priests are and I assume they would not have time for me. This post was what I needed because it may actually be my emotional challenges that are preventing me from going ahead. This was such a timely read for me, thank you! I will look for the book Unbound.

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      God bless you in your search for answers. He has promised that He will be found by all who seek. He is faithful.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FDQ4YKZT3BRROGWQUGDKQJHUAI irishlass

    Your article in response to the question does emotional suffering hinder spiritual growth,  I found to be most interesting.  I want to thank the person who asked the question as I never really looked at emotional suffering to hinder spiritual growth. 
     
    I personally have suffered tremendous emotional pain since a young child. When I was in grade 1, I was very fortunate to have a very good teacher who (and I do not even think she was aware of it), taught me to depend totally on Christ.  Because I have faced so much rejection in my life, I had nowhere to turn to but only to Christ, the Son of the Living Lord which has been my strength and solace.  Over the years, I got to the root of my suffering through prayer and perseverance.  I am different person today, but I will never really over come the feeling that the next person I meet is not going to reject me.  I realize I must continue depending  on Christ – but it is not easy, because the temptations only become stronger as I grow closer to Him, even with the help of a very good Spiritual Director and a close female friend I can talk to.   I will definitely read the books you have suggested.  Please keep me in prayer, as I want to make our B&B a B&B House of Prayer.
    Peggy

  • LSLinda

    I have been blessed with a Catholic psychologist and a spiritual director who have helped me through similar issues. While there has been progress on both fronts (emotional and spiritual) in some ways I still feel stuck. I have read many spiritual books, some of which have made me feel like a complete failure. “Unbound” seems to have fans, but I guess I’m wondering why this one is any different from all the others. I suppose hope is running thin.

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Linda, discouragement is never from the Lord – please hang in there. The reason the Unbound model may be different from what you have experienced is that its focus is on how the enemy of our souls works to discourage and deceive us and then to enslave us (in various degrees) to lies that bind our souls to sin and darkness. Be assured of my prayers for you today.

      • LSLinda

        Thanks, Dan. I really appreciate it. Have you heard of a book called “the devil you don’t know?” By Louis j. Cameli?

        • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

          I haven’t – do you recommend it?

          • LSLinda

            I haven’t read it. It was recommended to me by a good, holy priest and has been sitting on my shelf for about a year. The author is a priest of the archdiocese of Chicago and the book has great reviews. I just wondered how it differed from Unbound. If I’m going to read on the subject I probably ought to read the one I have already bought first.

          • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            I read the review on Amazon. Looks like it is worth reading. Is suspect the Holy Spirit has determined that you should…

  • JoannaFarrugia

    Dear Friend, I too have been psychologically abused so to speak, as a child.  I never fit in somehow, I was misunderstood and grew up feeling I was a complete wreck and a really bad person.  I suffered from guilt and low self-esteem for a number of years and was diagnosed with clinical depression.  I responded to God’s call to trust in him and I never regretted my decision.  This was almost thirty years and I can only look forward. Today I believe in myself and I am the person God meant me to be, not the broken traumatised little girl I never grew out of.  I am married, I have four grown up children and have been at University for the past ten years.  I am now reading for a PhD in Christian Spirituality.  I am under spiritual direction and I have also taken counselling in the past, particularly when I was diagnosed with depression.  I would tell you that emotional suffering does not hinder spiritual growth as long as you are open to God.  God bless you!

  • eelia

    For a year I brought a book called Spiritual Warfare for the Wounded
    to Adoration 1-3x/week, systematically reading though it, saying the prayers, reviewing the questions/exercises. It was my poor person’s therapy and brought about much understanding and healing safely. Dr. Mark Johnson is the author. He is not Catholic; he is Christian. Now I have the ability (courage, desire) to go for spiritual direction. 

  • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

    Joanna – thank you for sharing your testimony of suffering and the work of the Lord in your healing.

  • MrsVelo

    I’m hesitant to write here.  My problem is that I have an overwhelming feeling of rejection by God, Our Lord, Our Lady, and all of heaven.  I want the healing that I read about but the moment I consider it, or that I’m willing to do what it would take, ie, spiritual reading, prayer, frequent confession, direction, absolutely simultaneously, the idea that God does not want me to approach Him is very strong.  I’m nearly 50 and still feel hated and rejected by my parents (who are still living) and my family of origin.  There are other issues, but not for here.  Do you have any suggestions?  I actually just rephrased that last question, taking out the words, “to overcome these feelings” because I really think God doesn’t want me to try and come towards Him, if He did, He would have helped me long ago (at least for the sake of my husband and many children, if not for me).

    • Becky313

      Oh!  MrsVelo!!  It is a LIE that God does not want you to come near Him.  He LONGS for us to come to Him so that He can show us the Truth…heal us….and lead us to happiness.

      I am 53….I would really suggest that you check out these books, there are some stories in them that are very similar to yours.  The key to healing and getting past these huge obstacles is to identify their source.

      There are many souls who, while even in the womb, received the impression that they were unwanted.  Sometimes it was just that parents didn’t know how they could support another child and it was difficult at first, but they never regretted having the child….and they love them!!  But the baby in the womb can get ‘caught’ in a trap of being unwanted…and it can have life-long consequences.  This book and these methods of prayer can dispel the lies.

      I’m praying for you!

      • ad maiorem dei gloriam

        Just wondering… where does the idea that souls while still in the womb receive the impression that they are unwanted?  

        • Becky313

          I have read this in different sources.  Most recently in “Resisting the Devil” by Neal Lozano.

          Because this is a spiritual war our souls are engaged in, it stands to reason that once the soul has been created, it can be attacked. 
          (Somebody please say something if I am wrong about this!)

          The person may not remember or understand WHY they feel unwanted…just that they always have. 

      • MrsVelo

        Dear Becky313, I have the Unbound book and have read some of it.  It seems the evil one will not tolerate it and stirs up problems when I attempt to read and/or follow through.  Thank you for your prayers.

    • LizEst

      Mrs Velo – God is love and God created you out of love.  Christ came to lift you from your misery to His loving arms, the arms He opens wide on the cross for you, to hold you and embrace you and bring you into His kingdom of everlasting life and happiness with Him.  For this we are created.  And, for this He came to earth.  He does not care how unworthy you feel.  We are all unworthy (myself particularly so).  He is the fountain of mercy and the one who enables us to approach Him, going before us to prepare a place for us, that where He is we also may be (cf John 14:2, 3).  That “us” includes you too!  When you get the idea that God does not want you to approach Him, it is the evil one who is putting that thought into your head, not our all-loving God and King.

      You mentioned other issues.  Even if you don’t go for spiritual direction, please speak to a priest about this.  God IS helping you, although you may not recognize it yourself.  While God can work very quickly, most often the Holy Spirit works very gently, almost imperceptibly at times.  We aren’t always going to know how God is working or what God doing in our lives.  But, rest assured, He IS helping you.  And, He has great plans for you, “plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  He continues, “When you call me, when you pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me.  Yes, when you seek me WITH ALL YOUR HEART, you will find me with you…and I will change your lot” (Jeremiah 29:12-14ab). 

      So, “consider that the Lord’s patience is directed toward salvation” (2 Peter 3:15a).  We can do nothing without Him.  Your posting here is not something you have done on your own.  It is a response to that help the Lord is giving you.  This is a great step forward for you.  Please, please, please go see a priest about this, even if it is not for spiritual direction.  He may be able to help you sort through some of these feelings, pray some special prayers for your healing and/or recommend someone who can assist.  Say to the Lord, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

      God bless you Mrs Velo.  My prayers for your healing! 

      • MrsVelo

        Thank you LizEst, it is difficult to find a good priest, but I’ll keep trying.  Thank you for your encouraging words.

    • Teresa Roberts

      Please do check into some solid Catholic counseling. It was the best thing my spiritual director ever suggested. It helped me get to the root issues and gave me new tools for self knowledge and coping that I never learned growing up. It also helped me to forgive and move through issues ultimately embracing my wounds knowing that one day the Lord would use them to help others to do the same. Please make the call, you will never be sorry. Peace.

      • MrsVelo

        Thank you Teresa, I’ll try what you suggest.

    • HerHeartbeat

      Last evening when I read your post and the responses I was reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan where the traveler was beset by thieves and left beaten by the side of the road. A stranger and a foreigner came and had compassion on him, pouring wine and oil onto his wounds and taking responsibility for his continued healing. The comments to your post are the oil and wine poured on your wounds out of compassion with a deep desire that you should find healing and wholeness, perhaps for the first time in your life.
      I would like to offer a drop of oil from my flask, as well.  I understand your deep pain knowing the suffering your sin has caused others….me too. Recently I was given a book I BELIEVE IN LOVE by Father Jan C. J. d`Elbee. In it there was a passage in which he was speaking to our incomplete understanding of the the redemptive work of Jesus life, death and resurrection. When we confess our sins and are absolved it not only cleanses us and makes us a new creation but the work of redemption applies to the damage we have done to others even if we can’t perceive it.  He suggests a prayer which I have made daily use of and it has begun to free me from my unremitting sorrow.  I pray this for you, as well. 
      Jesus,
      from this evil also which I have wrought around me, draw forth good. Even, I
      dare to ask You, draw a greater good from it than if I had not done the evil. I
      ask You this humbly, in my smallness, beating my breast and saying mea culpa, with a contrite heart,
      recognizing my fault. I ask it of You with an immense confidence, recognizing
      Your mercy and the limitless price You paid for our Redemption. [O, Jesus, make
      reparation in me and around me flowing out in healing, restoring waves to Your
      Body which I have wounded. Grant me grace to never wound you again, my LORD for
      I love you]..this last my own addition.
       

      • Becky313

        Awesome!

      • MrsVelo

        Dear HerHeartbeat,  Thank you.  I have this book, read it many years ago.  Perhaps I should take it out again.

    • srockers81

      Mrs. Velo, 
      While all the other posts are beautifully worded and contain much more wisdom than I have to offer, I will share with you where I had to start, because, my pain, while different from yours, still kept me away from God. It’s this: You’re human, so, you count. Since God created you, you count. Because you’re a sinner, you count. Because it hurts, you count. (By ‘you count’ I mean that God loves you, died for you, and wants you.) I still have to tell myself from time to time that I count, if for no other reason than I’m human. The devil can’t mess with that; I know I’m many things, but I’m definitely human. 

      • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

        Amen!

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Mrs. Velo, this sentence from your Response is illuminative :

       “……the idea that God does not want me to approach Him is very strong.”

      Take it from this 74 year-old Grandma Mrs. Velo;  that is the Voice of the Evil One who wants you to shut your ears from hearing God calling you and remain his Prisoner. DO NOT LISTEN TO HIM.  God is calling you each moment.  He is down there, hurting with you.  He is pleading with you to turn to Him so that He can heal you.

      Neither parents, nor your relatives or everyone else created you. None of them is keeping you alive.  But He Who created you in His Image and Likeness, created you because He loves you. No matter how unworthy you feel, believe me, you are “Precious to Him”.  He can never, ever reject you.  I hope this very short Prayer in your mind from time to time will be of some comfort to you:

      “Jesus, Son of the Living God , I know you died for me because You Love Me. Please help me.”

      • MrsVelo

        Dear Mary@42, thank you for your kind encouragement.  I will try my best to remember them and do as you suggest.

        • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

          Lord Jesus, thank You.  Please continue to talk to her.  Hear my Prayers and open her hear’s ears to hear Your Voice and respond to You. Set Her free from the Evil One and press her to Your Merciful Heart, comfort her and begin to heal her.

          Jesus I Trust In You

          O Holy Mary, my Personal Patron and our Mother of Mercy, take your child under your Protection and Patronage. You O Holy Mother of God, whose very Name sends Satan to the deepest, hottest hole in Hell, intercede for your child to your Devoted Son who never refuses anything You request Him. Amen

    • Pam H

      I’ve found that our feelings often have little to do with the reality of things, especially when we are suffering from depression.  St Therese of Lisieux wrote in her autobiography that she felt shut out and abandoned by God, but she did her best to act as if she did not feel this way, and thanked God when He (repeatedly) did not answer her prayers.  (She did not feel abandoned by Our Lady, but the principle is the same.)  This is what faith is – it is choosing to believe in spite of obstacles.  It is not faith, if you see solid evidence for the truth of something.  Things might not get easier, but ask God, His saints, and the Holy Spirit, to help you have faith and trust, even if it seems like no one is listening.  I have this trial, too (perhaps less severe than yours), and this is what I know to do about it – may we act according to those lights God has given us.  Scripture tells us that God will bless us in our thanks and praise of Him, so try to do that, especially when you don’t feel like it.  It is more valuable in His sight, then.

  • Lisa Gagain

    I have been greatly helped in therapy for family problems and anxiety by a former nun, but she does have beliefs I would consider to be “New Age”, which concern me. Is there a way to work with someone in therapy while staying away from the questionable practices? There are no Catholic therapists where I live.

    God bless you,
    L.

  • Diane Fiore

    wow, This question has something for everyone. I found only complete, complete surrender and not not even asking why is the only direction for me. I have also come to realize the very impactful effect hormones have on our psyche and cannot be dismissed, but must be reckoned with. I also just read this quote from CS Lewis, which was wonderful confirmation for my waking thoughts today: 
    “I
    sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does as much
    towards preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of
    our vices can do.” ~ A Grief Observed

  • jrbarrytx

    Dan:
    I really appreciate not only the question but the response because it addresses many of the things I have experienced in my return to the faith.  I live in a Protestant family which some have nominally accepted my change and those closest to me still struggle with it.  Because of this I have become what I call a “closet” Catholic.  I am faithful to my parish in attendance at Mass on Sunday and at least one day during the week, confession when I get up the nerve and participate in a scripture study.  I also do a prison ministry through the church.  I would love to do more but everything hinges on scheduling around family activities so I never know for sure what Mass I will attend each week or if I can go to a special seminar given by one of the priests without causing discomfort to my family.The saddest thing for me is not being able to share my faith and I have that excitement for the faith that never leaves me.I read all I can get my hands on which include your book club and I read the Magnificat daily morning and evening. I have ordered your book and look forward to reading it as well.I have felt the sensitivity to criticism and depression many days due to those who criticize the church and have found this to be the loneliest journey of my life.  I depend on websites such as these to keep me focused and through the book club and other writings of not only yourself but of Fr. John that help to answer some deeply sensitive topics that I struggle with on an almost daily basis.My life has not been the same since I came back two years ago but it takes a long time to overcome 45 years of Protestant teachings and beliefs that have been a vital part of my marriage and family.  I struggle with why God even called me back but I know he has a plan for me and just accept it and go on.
    Many thanks for this and I pray for those who have been through a lot more sufferings than I have as evidenced by the responses to this article.  Jackie

    • LizEst

      Jackie – don’t kid yourself!  Yours is, indeed, a very painful suffering, that of suffering for your faith, the very essence of who and what you are, what you believe in.

      “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

      • jrbarrytx

        Thank you LizEst.  I appreciate your kind words.  But in reading about Mother Teresa’s “dark night of the soul”, she thanked God for all her trials and sufferings as she felt they strengthened her faith even though at times she felt completely abandoned by him. I try to remember to do that even though it is very difficult.  A nun friend of mine confirmed this when she said, “we must remember to thank God not only for our many blessings but for our trials as well.” 

        • suerod

          thanks so much jackie and lizest…you are not alone.  i am thankful  Dan’s post brought about these commentaries.  Marvelous how God works and His timing.  Imagine from all eternity God knew you would be at this place.  No coincidences.  my husband and I married in the church 20 yrs ago this past june.  only now after many yrs of frustration and trying to live my faith (so imperfectly), he has joined RCIA.  Praise God.  Every little step is a milestone, even if a baby step.  God’s grace will see us through.  FYI, Check out “Trust in the Lord. Fr. Richter at Lighthouse Catholic Media.  Each time I listen to it, I gain more confidence in trusting God.  The recommended prayers:  Jesus, I trust in You; Mary, pray for me, Father, Love me.    Blessings to all  sue

  • Terese10

    It was good to see this question and read the responses today. I also had very deep emotional wounds. I went through a boatload of things to deal with my problems including years of therapy, 12 step groups, survivor group, etc. I left the catholic church, in part because I felt my problems were too deep and no one would ever understand. Three years ago for some reason the Holy Spirit called me back the catholic church. It was very very painful. I would cry and cry when I went to confession. I was afraid to talk to any priests. I picked up old habits of anxiety that I had left behind years ago. I was beside myself–after everything I’d been through I couldn’t believe what an emotional wreck I was again! Now after nearly three years I can honestly say God healed me. I don’t know how or why but it is true. I love the catholic church. I can talk to priests. I am no longer afraid to step into a catholic church. I had a woman spiritual director for a while. I joined catholic online groups when I couldn’t find people with skin on to answer my tough questions. I love Jesus and Mary and have a deeper faith than ever in my life. Adoration and praying the rosary were I believe, a huge part of my healing. I thank God every day for his healing and his love. I pray for everyone here who is hurting emotionally. One book I recall that helped me a lot was Consoling the Heart of Jesus. It spoke of love and that is what I needed to drench my spirit in. As Dan pointed out, there is a spiritual warfare component too. I had to learn how to pray and fight when Satan attacked me. I am still learning but now I KNOW that the victor is Christ–and not in some faraway next-world sense only, but in every day. Thank God for the work of this site where I see true people who are willing to share on a deep level how we can walk and be healed in Christ. 

    • KAACD

      Hi,

      I left the church a few times but always go back; however every time I go back I end up crying and it’s so hard to talk to priests and go to confession.  I ended up moving and I fell away from the church again. I will come back but I feel like my faith is like an egg shell, so fragile. I love God but I always cry.

    • MarytheDefender

      Consoling the Heart of Jesus? I just got a copy of that book last week! I should really start reading it then. I hope it will help me too. Thank you for sharing your story. It;s wonderful to hear how God healed you. 

      • frtrue75@att.net

        Dear Mary: The Spiritual Direction book club will begin the 33 Days to Morning Glory by the same author, Fr. Michael E. Gaitly, MIC who wrote Gonsoling the Heart of Jesus. You may want to join the group. God bless you. Donald

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/IDECF46J65VBITV2QGNRG5UVPA Kathy Quade

      I too have read Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and it helped me a lot.  I wish there was a retreat-type book like that written for those of us who are mentally and emotionally ill.  I found that the retreat style of this book was just right for me but am having a hard time because of my mental illness.  If there is anyone who knows of such a book or is willing to write one, I would be eternally grateful.

  • Terese10

     One thing that has helped me with this type of feeling is to ask myself, Am I going to trust my feelings ( I feel awful, guilty, unforgiven, unworthy to be forgiven, etc) OR am I going to trust God and His Word and His promises (Christ died for me, He says I am forgiven and loved. He is bigger than my feelings.) I use my will to say, In spite of my circumstances and my feelings, I WILL take God at His word! I beg him to turn the bad into what can be good. Reciting the promises in Scripture over and over can help.

    • Mea_Culpa99

      I appreciate your response, Terese.  Saying that the Lord is bigger than my feelings reminds me of the Divine Mercy message in that His Mercy is greater than all of my horrible sins combined.   Perhaps I need to read St. Faustina’s diary thoroughly (I have read  certain sections at various times).  Thank you very much for your help.  Blessings.

  • Ines DeLong

    We all go through difficult experiences in life. It is all part our spiritual journey. It is our faith in knowing . that God walks with us . “I will never leave you nor forsake you,saith the Lord”. With that in mind I walk through the valley.

  • LizEst

    Mea Culpa – Living with the guilt of the type of serious sin you suggest, though forgiven in confession, is indeed a cross that is unbelievably, almost unbearably, painful because the damage can’t be undone by one’s own hands or will.  And, I am particularly concerned for you because praying for a terminal illness is a passive way of seeking one’s own death.  God does not want this.  He wants to give you eternal life and happiness with Him.

    Yours are the tears of true contrition.  The Lord knows your heart.  He knows that, even if you knew better then, you are very, very, very sorry now.  He is rich in mercy and He does not lie.  He has forgiven you. 

    Do you know why you are so repentant?  Recall Jesus’ words: “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.  Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.  Which of them will love him more?’ Simon said in reply, ‘The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.’  [Jesus] said to him, ‘You have judged rightly” (Luke 7:41-43).  Likewise you, Mea Culpa, have been forgiven much.  Therefore, you love so much.  With that love, you would fix the past.  God chooses to forgive the past and accepts your greater love and greater humility.  As Joseph, in the Old Testament, said to his brothers in Egypt when they feared he would retaliate for their mistreatment of him, “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people” (Genesis 50:20).  God will have a way of drawing good even out of these very bad circumstances of yours.

    For you to have peace, you must trust in His promises and find a way to forgive yourself.  The devil would like nothing better than for you not to forgive yourself because this will continue to make you vulnerable to his venom and his lies. 

    Know that you are not alone.  Although every situation is different, others, such as those who have had an abortion, have walked in similar paths.  It takes time and a lot of work to be able to live with such things.  You need to see someone who specializes in helping people to forgive themselves in circumstances such as yours.  If your priest/psychotherapist is not able to do this for you, please ask him to recommend someone.  You must not let this issue continue to gnaw at you and fester.  

    God bless you, Mea Culpa.  My prayers for your healing!

    • Mea_Culpa99

      Thank you, LizEst.  You are right in stating that my prayers for a terminal illness are a sincere desire for death, as I know that the taking of one’s life is a mortal sin.  You have given me some things to seriously ponder – I felt a slight sense of reassurance while reading the contents of your response.  Previously I have considered the idea that God draws good out of evil, but as I mentioned, certain consequences of my actions are irreversible; quite honestly, I feel responsibility for the suicide of someone who was very close to me, and whom I hurt very much in the past (my priest/therapist knows this and has told me that the devil can be a source of some of these thought as you suggested).  I know that the Lord can, but will not,  bring this person back to life.  I would rather have gone in his place.  I will seriously meditate upon your comments, especially the ones about being ‘forgiven much.’  Thannk you again . . . all prayers are greatly appreciated.  Blessings.

      • LizEst

        You’re welcome, Mea Culpa.  The glory goes to the Lord.  My hope is that some day you will be well again.  You indicated your priest/therapist knows these thoughts.  If you have not actually confessed those sincere desires for death in confession, do that…even if you have discussed this in therapy.  There is no substitute for the sacramental grace that comes from confessing this.  Every time you dwell on these thoughts, confess them.  Take courage and don’t let the devil win. 

        Make God bless you and keep you.  Make He make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  May He look on you kindly and give you peace (cf Numbers 6:24-26).

      • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

        Mea_Culpa.  All what this old sinner can remind you is Mary Magdalene.  Do not permit the Evil One to convince you that whatever you did has not been forgiven AND FORGOTTEN BY GOD.  HE HAS FORGIVEN YOU TOTALLY AND FORGOT COMPLETELY EVERY SINGLE SIN YOU COMMITTED IN YOUR LIFETIME.  So, go ahead and tell the Evil One to pack up and GO AWAY. FOR GIVE YOURSELF  and begin to thank God every day.  He loves you with an unfathomable  Divine Love as only God can love and Your Sins “evaporated like the Morning Dew” from His Sight the minute your heart and soul began bleeding and you were truly sorry for whatever you had done. Be at peace now.

        • Mea_Culpa99

          Thank you, Mary, for your insights.  My heart and sould have truly been bleeding for quite some time.  Please say a prayer for me.  Blessings.

      • LizEst

        Am currently reading “Forgiveness – A Catholic Approach” by R. Scott Hurd, a Catholic priest.  It is an easy to read short book that contains much for profitable reflection.  I read the “Forgive Yourself” chapter yesterday and recommend it to you.

        • Mea_Culpa99

          Thank you, Liz.  I have read many books on healing but none have really addressed, sufficiently, forgiveness of self; I eventually got tired of spending my money on them.   I will look into this one since you recommend it and are obviously knowledgeable in the spiritual realm.

          • LizEst

            I like the book because it is simple and easy to read and has much to reflect on.  The chapters are very short.  I recommend the whole book.  But, now that I think of it, I don’t know if it would address, sufficiently, as you say, or as you would like, forgiveness of self.  In any case, it’s another resource to consider. 

            Praying for you, Mea_Culpa99!  God bless you!

          • LizEst

            This is a ps to my comment below.  If you can’t find a book that sufficiently addresses forgiveness of yourself, perhaps you are the one who is supposed to write it!  Maybe you should pray about that…and listen to what the Lord says to you.

          • Mea_Culpa99

            Thank you, Liz, for your recent comments.  I do, and will, pray for the Lord’s guidance (help).

          • LizEst

            I’m still praying for you Mea Culpa.  Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord.  God bless you.

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Thank you, Dan, for your advice on this Question. Most of us can identify ourselves in the dilemma the Questioner finds his/herself.  She/he represents billions of struggling sinners like this one.  But all one needs is to have total Trust in God. A sentence of His conversation with Saint Faustina gives me all the hope I need : “The Greater the Sinner, the Greater is My Mercy”.  Many of my “Family Members” here are very widely read and very advanced in their Spiritual Life compared to this old Grandma.  

    But I live on this very simple truth where Jesus reminds me that He would have undergone all the Sufferings He endured from His Conception, His Private and Public Life, His Passion and Death if I was the only Sinner on this Earth and I committed all the Sins of all the souls He  created until the End of Time.  He assures me that I am that important to Him and His Love for me is Unfathomable, Unconditional, Divine and Eternal . All He desires from me is genuine Repentance from the bottom of my heart and frank Confession before Him when I go to Him in His Tribunal of Mercy – no matter how many times I fall every day.  That is my Childhood Faith; that is the Faith I live in my old age until my Hourglass is Empty and I stand before Him to give account of how I have reciprocated that Love.

  • RobinJeanne

    I also highly recomend “Unbound” I have read the book and gone to one of Neal Lozano’s weekend. I have his next book “Resisting The Devil” but hav’t read it yet but looking forward to it. I had not only suffered from childhood abuse but was spiritually raped by a deacon and throught the power of the Holy Spitit in the name of Jesus i was freed. It is not like what one might see on these tela-evangelist shows or movies… but a

  • LizEst

    You don’t say what type of mental/emotional illness you have.  So, I just looked for something on depression, which is very prevalent (After the information on the books, the last item listed is a link to an on-line “retreat”.  So, go there if depression doesn’t apply to you). 

    One of the Sisters of the Daughters of St. Paul, who has personally struggled with depression, has written a book on depression here:  http://store.pauline.org/English/Kids/tabid/128/List/0/ProductID/3878/Default.aspx?txtSearch=Surviving+Depression%3a+A+Catholic+Approach&SortField=ProductName%2cProductName 

    This book has been out for ten years and has been translated into 12 languages.  When you go to that link, you can even read the introduction and one of the chapters when you click where it says “expand”. 

    She also has two more books on the subject, one are prayers for surviving depression and the other is a journal:
    http://store.pauline.org/English/Kids/tabid/128/List/0/Default.aspx?txtSearch=Surviving+Depression%3a+A+Catholic+Approach&SortField=ProductName%2cProductName

    The Daughters also offer a do-it-yourself free “Retreat of Hope” on line where you click on all or just some of the very short guided meditations here:  http://www.pauline.org/DiscoverHope/AreYouHurting/tabid/611/Default.aspx

    Hope this helps.  God bless you Kathy.

  • Becky313

    Sometimes tears are a gift.  St. Catherine of Sienna, in her “Dialogue” with God describes five different kings of tears.  Tears of repentance and tears of contrition are two that I have experienced.  I also receive a lot of inner persecution about my tears…to cry or not to cry…….I don’t want to ‘bother’ people with my crying (it’s noisy)…etc…..but when they come, they can bring release and healing. 

  • LizEst

    Perhaps you could engage someone to read it with you.  Read, meditate, discuss.  Recall Jesus’ words, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

    Just a thought, are you able to receive the sacraments?  Can you celebrate the sacrament of confession and Eucharist?  Can you attend Mass?  Or, does the evil one also not tolerate them?

  • LizEst

    KAACD – Please don’t letting crying keep you away from talking to priests and from going to confession.  Priests are witnesses to many tears (mine included)!  This is not something alien to them.  In fact, many priests are very moved by the tears of repentance and the tears of contrition that Becky refers to.  Those are tears of authentic conversion.  A priest once told me, as I apologized for mine, “Would that more people had sincere contrition.”  With the grace of God in the sacrament of confession, your tears will help wash your soul clean and make you whole. 

    ps.  In many confessionals, a box of tissues is made available for penitents.  Know that you are not alone!

  • LSLinda

    Dan, it seems your answer to have hit a nerve as we are all emotional beings with a spiritual life. While there are basic things we are called to do (trust in God, etc.) for some, those things are more difficult than for others. For me, this call to trust in Jesus is seriously hindered by a violation of trust by someone. I know that God can be trusted, but sometimes it is hard for me to trust him. Does that make sense? While I thought our faith was “black and white”, I’ve learned that it is not necessarily so. Mental illness, culpability and the like require the discernment of a spiritual director to navigate the interior life. Mental illness (depression, PTSD, bi-polar disorder, etc.) make it all difficult. That is why a competent Catholic (or Christian) counselor is so important, as well as a spiritual director. I think unless one has “been there, done that”, it is hard to understand.

  • LizEst

    Lisa – You must stay away from “New Age” beliefs and practices.  They are very spiritually dangerous and are not in conformity with what the Catholic Church believes and preaches. 

    If your therapist is helping you, why don’t you address these “New Age” beliefs with her?  Be up front.  Tell her, you appreciate her help and yet you are concerned that some of her beliefs/practices are New Age and you want to clear the air.  Tell her what you don’t believe in and that you will not engage in such practices.  But, know what those practices are so you are not caught off guard.  She may very well say OK and never suggest them to you again.

    The great danger is if she is pushing New Age beliefs and practices on you.  If she requires them, then, in the long run you will be doing yourself greater harm by staying with her for therapy (here you ought to have a back-up plan of someone else to go to if that’s the case).  If she only suggests them to you, then you are free to pick and choose and your response would be to reject all the New Age stuff.  In this way, she could still be helpful to you.  And, both of you will have been honest in this patient/therapist relationship.

    On this site, there are four posts which address “New Age” stuff:  http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/topics/new-age  In these posts, you will find a wealth of information on “New Age” in the writings contained there and also in the associated links.

    God bless you, Lisa!

  • Lisa Gagain

    Liz,
    Thank you so much…I do think there is danger there, as I have felt the need to pray about this work with the therapist. I do know that some of the practices are New Age, which I have resisted. I am ready to end the therapy at this point, anyway…besides prayer, Mass, and the sacraments, is there anything more I should do to protect myself and my family?

    God bless,
    Lisa 

  • Becky313

    AMEN!

    So do you see that you are projecting your distrust of people onto God?  :) 

    I just had a similar revelation of my own.  I thought I had to be perfect or nobody would love me………and I projected that onto God thinking that I needed to be perfect in my spiritual life.  Didn’t even realize it until it hit me in the face!!  :)

    When I look back I can’t help but laugh!!  God IS good!

    • LSLinda

      I, like so many, find it hard to fully trust God precisely because trust was violated by someone else.  While it is easy to say “Jesus, I trust in you” …. for some of us, healing is required before we can.

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Oh, Becky, what you state hits home somewhere here, too.  But He straightened me after many agonizing days, weeks and months when one day, He made me come across this beautiful Prayer which I pray every morning:

      “O God, You created me and Your intimacy with me astounds me.  That You love me so much and accept me just as I am is wondrous to me. 

      Lord, forgive me when I trespass against others and let my forgiveness towards those who wrong me be swift and sweet.  Amen.”

      • Becky313

        Beautiful Prayer Mary!

        • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

          Becky, I learned the hard way how to get Him to help me when I get stuck and walking in “the Valley of death” – so to speak- after the very traumatic experience I underwent early this year. He reminded me what He had told Saint Faustina  in one of their conversations:

           “Whoever shall approach Me in distress and pray to Me in Total Trust for anything – no matter what a great sinner they are -  pleading to Me in virtue of My Passion, I shall answer never reject their prayers.”

  • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

    You make perfect sense. Black and white thinking rarely works with relationships between persons – human or divine… There is good news – you are seeking, struggling and staying in the fight. I have been in the fight all my life. God is good. Hang in there.

    • LSLinda

      Dan, I’m half way through my book. It is opening my eyes to the role of the enemy in my life, including the inability to trust. The father of lies has sold me a bill of goods that I have bought. (“He hasn’t healed you yet, so he isn’t going to. You are weak, a spiritual failure. A bother to your spiritual director,” etc.) Now I recognize his lies more, because I read my book, because of your post. You’ve made a difference. Thanks.

  • James B

    For good Catholic psychological help in book form I highly recommend Dr. Conrad Baars, especially his Healing and Feeling your Emotions, and Born Only Once. 
    There is great help also from solid non-Catholic authors. I’ve been greatly helped by Dr. David Burns’ well known works Feeling Good, and The Feeling Good Handbook. Sometimes counseling is necessary but you can make a lot of progress working through some issues with good books. 
    Dan I completely agree with your advice about considering Christ’s words against fear. For me the most important meditation for getting through all my issues has been Christ’s words’ “Fear not.”

  • LizEst

    Lisa – You’re welcome.  The glory, of course, goes to the Lord.  I am going to list a number of things.  You have to find the fit that is right for you and for your circumstances.  What I don’t want you to do is run off and do all of them.  That would play into the devil’s hand because it would eventually exhaust you and your family and cause you to give up.  When you find a practice that suits you, you may want to stick with it or try something else and come back to it later.  Keep a balance in all this and remember what your primary vocation is.  Don’t go doing a bunch of stuff at the expense of your family.  Find what best suits your personal situation without causing it to suffer…so that it can be an example both for your family and others and so that it may also give glory to God.

    1.  I recommend reading, studying and praying over Scripture.  There is nothing like being well versed in the Word of God to keep well-meaning people, and the devil, from leading you astray.  This may be seem a daunting task.  But, if you read just a little each day, you will find yourself coming to know God and how much He loves you, and how He acts in our lives to bring us to that eternal happiness with him.  In this, the Year of Faith, it’s a perfect time to have this as a goal for yourself/your family. 

    2.  Also along with Scripture, it’s always good to have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on hand.  It will answer many questions you may have now…and those you will wonder about in the future.

    3.  Read the lives of the saints.  This can be very inspirational personally, and also inspirational for children.  Read good Catholic spiritual books.

    4.  If the opportunity to study the faith presents itself, try to take advantage of it.  Many parishes offer classes about various aspects of the faith. There are also sites on-line that offer courses and study.  On this site, Dan Burke has done a couple of webinars as well.

    5.  If you have a particular devotion you are attracted to, you may want to take that up.  This may include the rosary, the First Friday devotions, Divine Mercy chaplet or any number of different things.  This helps give a focus to your prayer life.

    6. If you are drawn to a particular group within the Church, you may find your prayer life strengthened by that.  There are any number of Third Orders (Lay Orders) of different sorts: Carmellite, Dominican, Franciscan and collaborators of such organizations such as Opus Dei, as well as groups such as The Order of Penitents. 

    7.  There are also a number of other groups such as the Marians, Disciples of Jesus and Mary, Divine Mercy Apostolate etc that you can investigate as well.  Some groups, such as Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Knights of Columbus, the Legion of Mary, have local groups in many areas.  If you do join a group, be charitable about your enthusiasm for it.  Not everyone is called (or cut out) to be a member of The Order of Penitents, Third Order Dominican, etc. 

    8.  Try to do some outreach to others who are in need of assistance.  This will enlarge your heart and give you the opportunity to serve Christ in some of His different disguises.  There may be a food pantry in your area, St. Vincent de Paul Society, nursing home, even elderly neighbors who could use a helping hand.  There are groups that visit the imprisoned and some that minister to those who have had abortions.  There are those who assist the homeless.  This outreach to others can be a great family ministry, a great opportunity to teach little ones about extending the love of God to all.

    OK.  So, there you have some ideas.  Be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow where He leads.  If you can find a good, Catholic, spiritual director that will be a great help to you.  May God bless you always as you seek to do His will.

  • RobinJeanne

    I also highly recommend “Unbound” I have read the book and
    gone to one of Neal Lozano’s weekend. I have his next book “Resisting The Devil”
    but haven’t read it yet but looking forward to it. I had not only suffered from
    childhood abuse but was spiritually raped by a deacon (who was my spiritual
    director) and through the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus i was
    freed. It is not like what one might see on these tela-evangelist shows or
    movies… but a peaceful envelopment. The power of God’s love, covered me like a
    healing balm and I was able to forgive and pray for all those who wounded me.
    God allowed my egotistical, self-center, judgmental being to be crushed so that
    He could give me a new heart, one with great love for Him and others. To be able
    to grow more and more open to His will. And as Dan said, To have some
    spiritually good friends to walk this journey. We can not do it alone, and most
    importantly building a relationship with the Holy spirit, and trusting Jesus.
    Also the book “Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence” is a wonderfully eye and
    heart opening to seeing how everything is for our greater good. God knows what
    He allowed in our past and present life, the good and the bad, would eventually
    bring us closer to Him. God is so, so very good!!!

  • Becky313

    I understand betrayal very well; I’ve encountered it very deeply, and on many fronts.  Speaking only for myself, I found that my healing came when I reached out across all that pain and asked Jesus for His help.  “I want to trust you Lord, but you know how badly my trust has been violated.  Please help me.

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    LSLinda, I sure have not experienced the kind of trauma you have undergone but just ponder on these – the 1st of the Seven Words of Jesus as He hung and died on the Cross : 

    “Forgive them, Father, for they know now what they are doing”. 

    Have you truly suffered more that He did?????

    • LSLinda

      No, Mary@42, I have not suffered more than Jesus.

      • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

        We are almost there now, LSLinda.  When you feel that God is not there for you or He is far away or you sometimes feel it is hard to trust Him if He permitted you to undergo such mental, physical and psychogical torments which you have undergone in your young life, remember Jesus suffered so much to heal you.  He loves you with Unconditional Divine Love as only God can love and He is ever at your side.  

        Meditating on His Passion and Death, you shall hear Him clearly telling you : “Linda, Trust in Me, I will  never forsake you or permit you to suffer alone.”

        Meanwhile, my Prayers are with you, Linda 

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    LSLinda, I sure have not experience the trauma you have suffered but just ponder on these – the 1st of the Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross : “Forgive them, Father, for they know now what they are doing”. 

    We are almost there now, LSLinda.  When you feel that God is not there for you or He is far away or you sometimes you feel it is hard to trust Him if He permitted you to undergo such mental, physical and psychogical torments which you have undergone in your young life, remember Jesus suffered so much to heal you.  He loves you with Unconditional Divine Love as only God can love and He is ever at your side.  Meditating on His Passion and Death, you shall hear Him clearly telling you : “Linda, Trust in Me, I will  never forsake you or permit you to suffer alone.” My Prayers are with you, Linda 

  • holiness2012

    I am thankful for this post!  This is very relevant to me as a convert.  I had and continue have things from my past to work through.  And unfortunately, during a very vulnerable time  my then spiritual director essentially said I was more than he could handle and told me he didn’t want to see me anymore.  Ouch. 
    As an avid reader, I will make sure to add Unbound to my list. 
    I am so thankful for this ministry and have contributed monetarily. 

  • Pingback: Advent: The Reason for the Season | St. John

  • MrsVelo

    Also, “Healing the Unaffirmed” is a good one from Dr. Baars.

  • Becky313

    AWESOME!! God is good!

  • Becky313

    Thank you James for the recommendations of Dr. Barrs’ books, they’ve been a blessing for me!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MGEE5L6JWXSXFIYXC2UAQNNWO4 Patricia

    Hi Dan I am looking for spiritual direction and I have an appointment tommorow with a deacon. I am used to have confession and spiritual direction. I have been also traumatized by physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse. I am going to counseling by a catholic therapist and weekly confessions but I am not really getting any where. I am looking for someone to correctly direct my soul to God’s will. I was a religious to an order who is abusive and now is divided. I am married for over six years. I resently lost a good friend a priest to suicide who directed my soul. I feel survivors guilt and grief and I took some time away from church to avoid traumatic pain. Last night in massi was having PTSD episode flashing in and out in different times in my life. It was so confusing that I felt the habit on me and I could see a roll of sisters on each side of me. I was so scared and sorrowful that I could not focus on the holy Eucharist. I suffred much last night could not eat or sleep and now my soul is wounded. I a wondering if any spiritual director would want to direct such a soul. What are your thoughts on this.

    • Lagosunshine

      May your priest friend have known the embrace fn the Light of Christ in his passing. The poor soul.

      I was sexually and spiritually abused by a priest much older than I when I thought , as an innocent kid, to enter religious life. Many years and much suffering. But God draws good from all for those seeking to love God truly. I went through all the ‘stuff’ you go through – lost my soul and body in places I had not known existed. I hated the man for a time.

      He is now passed on some years. I pray and believe totally that he is with Christ – healed. We will meet again one day where all suffering is no more. In understanding the whats and whys of what wounded me so profoundly – I began to empathise with him too and understand. Forgiveness came. I pray deeply for those driven to despair and suicide. May your dear friend rest in peace and the Light of God. God bless you too.

      Approach the Mercy Seat of the good God
      with the greatest confidence.

      God bless you – and relieve you in your suffering.

      Martin (Ireland)

      • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

        Dear Martin, I am moved by your courage and charity in the face of such tragic circumstances. God bless you as you continue to allow the healing power of Christ emerge in and through you.

  • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

    You should connect with Becky. She can be reached at bward_313@comcast.net.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MGEE5L6JWXSXFIYXC2UAQNNWO4 Patricia

    Thanks Dan I did email her!!

  • Anne

    I personally think we ought to be careful of deliverance ministries and I read just a few of the introductory pages of ‘Unbound’ by Neal Lozano and I was surprised to find directions in it as to how to ‘deliver’ someone from evil spirits (on page 243 of his book). I personally think and I also know that that is very dangerous.  But I ask myself why do we need this, we have Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist, we have the Sacrament of Holy Confession where we receive cleansing and healing of sin once we are completely open and honest about our sins.  Many of these deliverance ministries come from other Churches who do not have the vast treasures that we have, of the Sacraments, the Teachings of our Church and the vast quantity of invaluable witness and written testimony of the Saints and our great Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.  

    I worked with homeless women for a number of years and I have come across women who have endured much suffering and abuse of various kinds.  Many of these women were introduced to the Sacraments and one of them is now living a very happy life in a Monastery as a contemplative nun.   I also know of other women on the other side of the story who got worse when they were prayed over by people claiming to be involved with ‘deliverance’ ministries.  We have to be careful here and remember the vast and often unrealised treasures of our own Faith.  I often think that as Catholics we somehow still remain somewhat blind to what we have right in our own Church, ultimately the beautiful and real Presence of Jesus Christ our Saviour in the Holy Eucharist, our Holy Baptism and the great Healing Sacrament of Confession.   Why do we need to go to other Churches for healing when we have all this in our own ?

    But, I am also aware that there are people out there who do need special counselling and help due to their deep emotional wounds, but we need to help them through the Sacraments, as well as Christ centred counselling and in other practical ways, through diet, exercise and healthy recreation and good friendships.  But deliverance if it is needed is for only a few who are properly trained and not for everyone.   God bless you.

  • Becky Ward

    Patricia, if you are trying to reach me I have not received your email.  I just went through and checked my junk mail folder to be sure it wasn’t there.  Please try again if you would still like to talk…..I would be very happy to do so.

  • Becky Ward

    Praying for you irishlass!  I’m walking this same path, and I want to tell you that it IS possible to be freed from the feelings of rejection.

    God Bless You!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000067803665 Judeen Harthun

    Anne ,   you are so right on , about the Power of the sacraments… over satan and evil…  we leave alot of evil in the sacrament of confession… and baptizism…. our souls healed in a deep way…. in the old testement it talks about sins we do not know we do or forgotten… and God asked the people to repent of these 1 a yr.  (for these do carry evil with them and make us suffer..)  I try to do this in confession every once in a while.   to free me of sin I do not know I do….    but too .. God does lead some down the path to pray over other I do think… a deeper healing…  spiritually.. ?  the disiples were taught this… warnings from Jesus also is told.. people have to except Jesus as their savior and redemmer and repent of all their sins.  and ask forgiveness.. for if they do not change the demon will leave as prayed , but will come back with 7 more… this is scriputer.   but if the person does change they are freed from illness, sorrow, mental illness. so on if it is caused from evil…  a change of life.. all done in our beleif in Jesus and the Power of the mercy of God.   it is in the love of neighbor that we pray for each other. I have seen great things done in Jesus Name.. the saints prayed over people. the phrophets prayed over people. St Lucy was just a women but was a excersist.. I have heard.. doing just what God wants us to…    when people pray over others this is a great responiblity … 1 most be right with God.. .I know of people who do this . 1st they have a preist hear their confessions then also hear the persons confession then they pray over the person.  to break the torcher of the person is God given. I have been 1 of these people.. who were prayed over. the change of life and great love of God is so wonderful.. I am not satified with living a life in misery. my love of God just grows. like mary magdilene .I can not get enough of God.free of hindering ……

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000067803665 Judeen Harthun

    Anne , ps.. the people who do pray over others.. fast, pray , adoratation . and suffer for others… this is scripture.. after 1 is right with God these are exceptable to God and honor God… and God will hear their prayers…. it is a deep level of Love of God and neighbor. and they try to pray over people in front of the tabernacle… . where Jesus is …..

    • Anne

      Sorry Judeen, I only saw these replies now. Yes you are right, it is good to pray for one another but we also need to be careful who prays with you. I am sorry but I have seen people ending up worse after they were prayed with by people who claim to be in a healing/deliverance ministry. So I am very wary of this. I worked with very broken women for a number of years and I have seen also the power of the Sacraments in their lives. The deliverance ministry is not for everyone and I would not recommend the book ‘Unbound’ to anyone as it contains a section where people may have to deal with manifestations which is walking on a very dark and dangerous path. Our Catholic faith has many treasures but there is a great need for a good Christ centred counselling/healing ministry which is incorporated with the Sacraments and Teachings of our Church. Dawn Eden suffered abuse but discovered healing through the Sacraments and writings of the Saints. I know others who suffered sexual abuse who also received most of their healing through the Sacraments especially Holy Confession and also through good and genuine friendships. But none of these entered down a road of deliverance. I think people have enough problems without praying to demons. God bless you.

      • judeen

        I kind of under stand where you are coming from… those so lost and have pickup things… right… do not touch them if you pray with them… praise the Lord… and ask them to say a prayer to God… little at a time… I was that wall flower who would not talk.. sit in the corner.. and I was prayed over… and yes it was powerful… yes not everyone has the gift of praying over people.. I do not think I have that … yet I have heard of people who was greatly changed by God who I did pray over…. I am not comfortable with praying over people.. either.. not my thing… forgiveness, is a big part of healing.. and confession.. I have found even if you bless someone.. they need to go to confession to keep the blessing.. ONe is praying to God , if you do not pray to God then your in the wronge kind of work… God does all the healings. not us, we ask God to heal this person , in our beleif God does miriciacals.. this is in the gosples… know your faith , stand in your beleif in God , confession is a right place to go.. for healing.. to understand what needs to be confessed is a gift from God…

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Your Response, Anne is very timely.  Yes, let us accept there is an authentic Ministry of Exorcism in the Catholic Church practiced by Priests who are fully trained for discerning whether a person is suffering from a purely Medical Mental condition, or whether there they are dealing with any demonic possession or influence. In several Catholic Websites where I have visited to get answers about this phenomenon, it is clearly stated that only Ordained and Trained Catholic Priests are authorized to carry out exorcism, and where necessary, assisted by fully trained Lay Catholics who have been approved by their Ordinaries.   We appear to have abandoned this Rule and adopted the Evangelicals and Pentecostals’ Ministries of healing and deliverance.  I also agree in recent years a Movement called Catholic Charismatic Renewal has been approved by the Catholic Church and many of them faithfully observe the genuine Catholic Doctrine the same way other Solidarity Movements in our Church do.  But I must agree  with your, Anne, that I have often found some of these Charismatics in some Parishes, imitating the Protestants I have mentioned above.  Their Sessions are purely Protestant and the public display of their healings and deliverances are so embarrassing when people begin screaming, falling down, doing strange body movements, foaming at the mouth and quite frightening to children and young people in attendance.  There is no decorum or respect for  the dignity for those who are being delivered.

    Our own John Cardinal Njue, and his predecessor, Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, Archbishops and Bishops have, from time to time, been forced to suspend these Charismatic Movements in their Archdioceses and Dioceses when they diverted from the authentic Catholic Teachings on Exorcism.  One also notices the most active and enthusiastic Members of the Charismatic Movements in the Catholic Church and those who have recently converted to Catholicism from those Churches.  What I feel is required is eternal vigilance by the Ordinaries to ensure our Catholic Liturgical Worship and Solidarity Groups Prayer and Worship remain authentic and weed out the undesirable, and often harmful healing and deliverances  which are contrary to the Catholic Teachings and Doctrines.

  • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

    Dear Anne, your characterization of Unbound is inaccurate. The author’s emphasis is on a peaceful approach that specifically seeks to avoid manifestations. Manifestations in and of themselves are not reflective of a “dark and dangerous path” but, in the right circumstances reveal that the exorcist is on the right track and can help the person. With respect to your comment about “praying to demons” – this simply does not happen in sound deliverance ministry. I have no doubt that you have seen problems and that there are problems with some deliverance ministries, however, you are throwing the baby out with the bath water and may, by your stance, keep people from finding the deliverance they so desperately need and may not find through any other means. Your emphasis on the sacraments is very good, however, your negativity about deliverance flies in the face of the teachings of Christ himself. Please do study more carefully on this matter and you will come to know the truth about it. Fr. Fortea is a great source. Pax Christi.

  • MarytheDefender

    Thank you Father! I already ordered the book. But since I live in the Philippines it hasn’t arrived in time. Hope to do the consecration within the year though!

    • LizEst

      Let’s put some prayers toward that, Mary!

      • MarytheDefender

        Thank you! Praying for you too!

        • LizEst

          Thank you Mary.