Day 26: Freedom and Her Self-Knowledge
By Abbey Foard
DSM Executive Director
Editor’s Note: TOB is the abbreviation for Pope St. John Paul II’s book “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” Pauline Press
"If we do not see our own darkness, we cannot know the love and light of divine goodness." St. Catherine of Siena
As a new psychology student, I “came down” with a new mental disorder the more I studied. From depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder, dependent to borderline personalities, there I was. It wasn’t consoling!
With time I began to understand the concept of “clinical threshold”— we can all have symptoms and tendencies without being “diagnosable.” (No longer was I tempted to check myself into the hospital!) But the whole process was enlightening. I had words for vulnerabilities and saw them in a new light. I needed mercy more than I knew. I could see pockets of darkness where light needed to break in.
The whole of Theology of the Body casts a vision for the true self. God designed us as man and woman in His image--bodies with meaning and direction, made for spousal communion. Our Divine Bridegroom invites consecration to Him. In so doing He can liberate us from concupiscence (i.e. corrupted desire) and redirect our passions.
My newfound insight and self-awareness had energy—at once it invited my Creator-Redeemer and pulled me towards Him. It challenged me to reveal myself more deeply to others. I entered therapy. I dug into Living Waters. I grew in the practice of confession. A deeper longing emerged: I wanted to rediscover the “lost fullness” of my feminine gift.
Saints find the Lord in the middle of deep needs, however messy. We have permission to probe our depths, insomuch as we depend upon the One who can re-order it. As St. Catherine says, our “shadow side” becomes an access point to the love and light of divine goodness. And that goodness will follow us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23)!
Pope St. John Paul II says, “Redemption is a truth, a reality, in the name of which man must feel himself called, and ‘called with effectiveness.’… [He] must feel himself called to rediscover…and to express…the interior freedom of the gift, that is, the freedom of that spiritual state and power that derive mastery over the concupiscence of the flesh” (TOB 46:4).
"Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity." "Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated."