Dec 12

Psychology, therapy and the role of grace

A Catholic coworker who recently went through a divorce was telling me that his wife who had been to lots of therapists before, during and after their divorce was pressuring her adult 19 year old daughter to go to a therapist to deal with ‘potential’ issues arising from their divorce.  She wanted the ex-husband to help pressure the daughter as well.  He asked my advice.

I am not a therapist, and have nothing against them as I have been helped through some extraordinarily tough issues in my life (for another day) with some good therapists.  But I have also learned some things that have put their value and place into perspective.

My bottom line:  picture yourself – here we are at one level, if you can imagine, hold your hand at a low level.  And where God wants us is at a much higher level, holding your other hand at a higher level.  He intends for us to close the gap with the grace He provides – in abundance if we ask for it continually and persistently.  What I see so often and even fell into it in my past at times, was that today, psychology and therapy, etc. purport to fill that gap.  I have seen so many cases, and in fact, I think, my ex-wife, where the person turned to the therapists and self help groups (I have attended them myself for short periods looking for answers) who told people how to think and react.  The role of complete dependence on God and His grace was left out of the picture or at least made secondary in actual practice, despite the fact that the 12 Steps advocate complete dependence on God (Step 3).  Easy to say, difficult to do would be my observation.  But this is not about debating the value of the 12 Steps, which I think are actually very good.

As I said, I think there is a role for therapists, psychology (I have nearly enough credits for a masters in psych and my daughter is a shrink) and self help groups.  But while all those may acknowledge Jesus Christ to some degree, they do not purport to be the secondary or servant of Jesus and the graces He offers for us to rise above our human nature and take on the divine through grace.  Instead, they all profess to provide the answers – even the self help goups. 

Let me take on the issue of the self-help groups based on the 12 Steps.  I believe in the 12 Steps – when “God as we know Him” is Jesus Christ.  What I have seen at all levels of those programs however, is that naturally, people in those groups do not have the same views, and therefore, in my opinion, while God is the object of their stated goal, cannot enjoy the fullness of the grace offered by Jesus Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth and the LIfe”.

As a divorced Catholic dad, my responsibility to myself and my children is make sure that the first and foremost place of healing and restoration we go to is the graces offered by Jesus Christ and His Church through the Sacraments.  Every other source is secondary and useless without that foundation first.  I need the graces of the Sacraments, particularly Reconcilliation first and then Eucharist in order to clear away the debris in the soul left by my sin and be left full of grace.  Then I can see and hear with divine sensibilities. 

And the journey from the state I am in at the moment to the state God is calling me to is easier as I am not weighed down with the baggage of sin, but rather fortified and strengthened by grace.  As a divorced Catholic dad, everything I do and undertake must have as its foundation the graces offered by Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church.  Frequent Confession, Mass and Eucharist are the best foundation to build any healing, restoration and higher state of being that God is calling me to.

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