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The Death of Robin Williams - a Catholic Response
Written by Allison Ricciardi, L.M.H.C.   

 

allison nametitleWe all are heartsick over the terrible news about the death of beloved actor/comedian, Robin Williams. A popular icon in America, Williams was loved by so many fans and his death by suicide is simply devastating.

I remember when I was very young and an actor that I liked committed suicide. At the top of his popularity on the hit show “Alias Smith and Jones”, Pete Duel took his life on the morning of New Year’s Eve, 1971. It was my first experience of “knowing” someone who took his own life and it deeply affected me. Most people around me said things like “How sad” or “So shocking” and life went on as usual. For me though, everything had changed. Hopelessness now had a name: suicide, and I would never be the same.

As Catholics, how are we to respond to such a circumstance? How are we to be steadfast in hope in such situations, when the Church clearly teaches that suicide is a mortal sin? In years past, a person who committed suicide was denied a Funeral Mass and even burial in a Catholic cemetery. Surely, for some that choose to take their own lives, suicide can be an act of revenge or one of selfishness, leaving loved ones to deal with the traumatic aftermath. It’s the ultimate act of despair. But that is certainly not always the case. We’ve come a long way from there in our understanding of and response to suicide in the Church today.

 

Read more: The Death of Robin Williams - a Catholic Response  [The Death of Robin Williams - a Catholic Response]
 

  


 

 
Pottery Parenting
Written by Lawrence J. Nichta, Jr., PhD   

 

clay-on-pottery-wheel morguefile000985249689There is a joke about parenting that goes like this: "You spend the first two years teaching your children how to walk and talk, and the next sixteen telling them to sit down and be quiet." Yes, once they can say what they want and go where they want parenting becomes a much greater challenge.

One of the images I frequently use in therapy is from Isaiah 64:8: "I am the potter, you are the clay." As parents we are a powerful first experience for our children of what it means to be in a relationship with God, but we certainly are not omnipresent and all powerful as is God. A scene from the movie "Ghost", where Demi Moore is working the pottery wheel with the ghost of her deceased husband, Patrick Swayze, embracing her hands as she works, is a beautiful image of this reality. It speaks to our relationship with God, and to our relationship with our children.

Would that parenting were so simple! To paraphrase Rabbi Harold Kushner's book title, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People", parents often come to therapy with an overriding sense of - How Do Good Parents End Up with Problem Kids? It's not that the children are essentially bad, they are just not living the kinds of values that their parents thought they taught them. Parents ask: "How come it didn't take? What did we miss? Where did we go wrong? Why is this one so different from his/her siblings?"

 

Read more: Pottery Parenting  [Pottery Parenting]
 
Reflecting On The Five Hearts
Written by John M Chavez, PhD   

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Along with being a Catholic psychologist, I have been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for many years now.  As Secular Discalced Carmelites, when engaged in Contemplative Prayer, members of my community are asked to open our hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to allow the Holy Spirit to draw us closer to Jesus. Scripture tells us we must love our Lord with all our heart, mind, all our soul, and all our strength. In other words it is the heart that must be changed. Let us recall Psalm 51:3-4 where it is written: "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.”

However, through our experience of living in the world, we know that not everyone we come into contact with is of like mind; or should I say, of like heart.

During your time in contemplative prayer, reflect on the Five Hearts revealed in Holy Scripture and in Tradition. For example, Scripture and Catholic Tradition clearly mentions the Evil Heart; the Good Heart; The Pure Heart; the Sacred Heart; and the Immaculate Heart. 

 

Read more: Reflecting On The Five Hearts  [Reflecting On The Five Hearts]
 
Catholic Psychotherapy Association - Annual Conference 2014

 

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ct angel"When Jesus saw the vast crowd His heart was moved with pity, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things."
Mark 6:34