From Hollow Rules to Healing Truths: Becoming Truly Catholic

Hollow beliefs and rules can be harmful and prevent us from living the fullness of life that God desires for us.

Map symbolizing catholic journey

Imagine walking a path with a map in hand. This map, filled with beliefs and rules unique to us Catholics, guides us through life, providing a sense of direction and purpose. But what if we find ourselves at a crossroads, where the map no longer seems to match the terrain?

Challenging our "catholic" beliefs

In our Catholic family and school culture growing up, we pick up the beliefs and rules that shape the way we view the world and approach life. Usually these beliefs are incredibly helpful in providing us with a sense of direction and purpose, but sometimes they can also cause us in when they no longer serve us, because they are not really Catholic in the first place. In these situations, it can be essential to question and transform these rules to find a more helpful way forward.

When Beliefs Become Roadblocks

For instance, many Catholic girls are taught to believe that if they live a virtuous and holy life, they will be protected from harm and blessed with a good life. However, life is not always so straightforward, and this belief can leave young women feeling disillusioned and confused when bad things happen to them despite their best efforts to live a virtuous life.

Mary's Story: From Disillusionment to Discovery

This was the case for Mary, a young woman who grew up with this belief instilled in her. Mary did everything she was supposed to do - she went to church, said her prayers, and avoided sin as best she could. However, despite her efforts, she experienced great pain and suffering in her life, including the loss of a loved one, financial struggles, an abusive relationship, and health problems.

Catholic woman in anguish in prayer

Mary found herself questioning her faith and wondering why God would allow these things to happen to her. She felt like she had been lied to and that her efforts to live a virtuous life had been for nothing. It was only when she started to question the rule she had learned - that good Catholic girls are immune to bad things happening - that she was able to find peace and healing.

Mary learned that life is unpredictable and that bad things can happen to anyone, regardless of how virtuous they may be. She realized that her belief had been limiting and that it was preventing her from embracing the fullness of life. By changing this rule and replacing it with a more helpful belief - that God is with us even in our suffering and that we can find meaning and purpose in our struggles - Mary was able to find peace and healing.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, we read: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." This verse encourages us to put our trust in God and not rely on our own limited understanding. We may have learned certain beliefs or rules that were useful to us in the past, but as we grow and change, we may need to reexamine them and let go of what no longer serves us in the real world of grace and sin.

catholic guidance shown as therapist guiding person to a stronger heart

Seeking Guidance: the Role of Catholic Therapy

If you find yourself struggling with a belief or rule that is no longer serving you, it can be helpful to seek the guidance of a Catholic therapist who can help you explore your beliefs and find a more helpful way forward. Remember, sometimes the most significant growth comes from rewriting (with God's help) the rules we have learned, allowing us to embrace life fully and find peace and healing in even the most challenging of circumstances.

Let us pray for the courage to recognize and let go of hollow beliefs and rules that keep us from the fullness of life that God desires for us. May we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and allow Him to guide us on the path of righteousness.

Image link to bio for Marcel Lanahan, LMHC

Dr. Marcel Lanahan

Founder, Lead Clinician

Marcel is a Catholic therapist, husband, and father of five. He is dedicated to supporting fellow Catholics with guidance on their healing journeys.

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