ELEISON COMMENTS DCCCX (January 21, 2023) : PRIESTHOOD APPRECIATED – I
Here is another fascinating testimony from modern youth, showing how desperate today’s world is to fill in the gap left by its having spurned Almighty God and His divine Son, Jesus Christ, and His Catholic Church. Studying “Psychology” at university, he received a great grace of conversion by which he came to see that anything a “psychotherapist” can do, a priest can do better – where there is the Faith. Read on —
I have devoted five years to studying psychology at a modern university. I am only 23 years old, so those five years were a good chunk of my life. I was converting during this college, and at the same time as I began at this university, I became convinced of the Preambula Fidei(reasons leading to Faith), and took my first steps towards Catholicism. Then, halfway through this university, I was already a Catholic, but one who had not yet realized the problem of the Newchurch. However, by the time I left university, I had realized that the Newchurch represented a new religion, and I broke away from it.
As I grew up in religious instruction and Thomistic philosophy, I realized that what they call Psychology is not Psychology, but a group of subjects that serve so-called “Psychotherapy”. Among these subjects is certainly Psychology, but the main subject is in fact Ethics. What a psychologist does, even if he has a knowledge of the small useful part of modern science, is rather Ethics, and it is the same thing that priests in the old days did, using theological Ethics. It is exactly a part, though not the main part, of spiritual direction.
I realized, after I started taking care of patients, that mental disorders always boil down to an ethical or religious problem, to capital vices, and their cure always depends on virtue, even if the vices of some patients have come from their bodily condition, some physiological or psychiatric illness, etc.. So, after that, I saw that to lead my patients to healing always required saying things that should rather be said by a priest in spiritual direction. I try not to give orders as a priest might give in spiritual direction, and I always propose things in the manner of suggestion. In fact, the less faith any patient has to resort to a priest, the more I “take the reins”; and the more faith any patient has to trust in a priest, the more I tell him to refer the matter ultimately to a priest, especially when the patient needs some practical advice.
But I am not sure that this profession, which is modern, should exist, or be exercised by lay people. I may have had, despite my personal weaknesses, some good results, always looking at things from the angle of the Ethics of St. Thomas, but sometimes I have to do or speak things that previously should have been done or said by a priest. It is true that the number of priests is very small, and spiritual direction nowadays is something that can only be had with a lot of luck, because Traditional priests have crowds of people to attend to. True, I can sometimes see things from a different angle which the priest cannot always see, but the fact remains that I have neither the grace of state nor the prerogatives of a priest.
I know that in 1953 and in 1958, Pius XII spoke to Psychologists and Psychotherapists, and in these allocutions, he implicitly approves of the profession. But especially in the allocution of 1958, the pope seems to be working from some wrong premisses. He shows a certain lack of understanding of what science is, confusing it with modern science, and also a certain naiveté regarding Modern Psychology. So I wonder if his approval is truly justified. In brief, can a layman be a psychotherapist ? And what would his prerogatives, responsibilities and limits be ? (End of testimony)
Answer: any “psychotherapist” still possessing some common sense and post-Christian love of neighbour can do good to souls in distress, but the good will be done much more by his charity and common sense than by any of his pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. He has the prerogatives, responsibilities and limits of any one man towards his fellow-men. Let him not pretend to be any kind of priest or “scientist” in the true sense of the words. He is a pseudo-scientist, and a godless substitute for a godly priest.
Poor moderns, with their endless psy-, psy-, psy- !
They’re sure the soul, or “psyche”, is a lie !