A Guide to Your Personal Formation for Holy Week

Mar 27, 2024

Dear Souls and Hearts Member,

Souls and Hearts is all about your personal formation, primarily your human formation and secondarily your intellectual formation. And to that end, I have pulled together six resources to help you focus on your formation during this most sacred of weeks.

Together, these six offerings, taken in over the next four days are a substantial human and intellectual formation program for Catholics seeking a deeper relationship with our Lord in these holy days.

Spy Wednesday

So let’s start with today, which the Church has traditionally denoted as “Spy Wednesday,” due to the betrayal of our Lord by his apostle, Judas Iscariot. On this day, I offer you a 72-minute Interior Integration for Catholics podcast episode 46 titled Shame and Tragedy: Judas Iscariot and You.

In this episode, I refute the typical explanations for Judas’ behavior as overly simplistic and lacking psychological depth. We go beyond the simple idea that Judas behaved the way he did because he wanted money. Rather, using Scripture, tradition, the perennial teachings of the Church, commentaries, the revelations of mystics, and the best of psychological theory, I go much deeper into the darkness of Judas’ psyche.

I argue that at the root of Judas’ natural issues was a deep, unresolved, dark shame that his primary manager parts compensated for with covert narcissism (check out the different types of narcissism in IIC episode 118 titled Narcissism: Who, What, Why, and How?  The Secular Experts Share their Views.)  I explore how that shame and narcissism drove motivations and impulses in Judas that are rarely considered. I also make the argument that he did not betray Jesus to the religious authorities for money and that he never intended for Jesus to be executed, and was shocked and surprised to see that his betrayal led to Jesus’ death.

Then, we explored Judas’ tragic reaction to his own shame when it overwhelmed him, leading to his suicide. In a brief experiential exercise, we explore our own motivations that are similar to those of Judas: a need for approval, a need to be admired, a need to be important, to matter – the unmet attachment needs and especially integrity needs that Judas sought to meet through sinful, maladaptive means.

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, I have three offerings for you.

First is Dr. Gerry’s weekly reflection from June 28, 2023, titled The Institution of the Eucharist: Illuminating Parts Through the Luminous Mysteries.  In this excellent piece, Dr. Gerry guides us in how to work with our parts to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Eucharist in an integrated, personal way. He takes us back to the Last Supper, to the experience of the washing of the feet (with the apostles’ reactions). He also discusses Judas’ experience at the Last Supper. Through an interpretation of Judas’ parts, he discusses the tragedy of “being stuck” and how burdens can be lifted. He closes with some penetrating reflection questions to help you connect with what needs to be resolved within your life with regard to the Eucharist.

Caption:  The Last Supper, Museu de Evora, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0 Deed

Second, I offer you the 60-minute Interior Integration for Catholics episode 109, titled Jesus’ Psychological Agony in the Garden. This is one of the most important episodes of the entire IIC podcast, where we focus on Jesus in His humanity, as truly man. We explore his stress responses in the Garden of Gethsemane, the fight-or-flight response, and also his freeze response in the humanity of his physical body. We do a deep dive into the gospel accounts, mining them for all their details about what happened within Jesus psychologically, looking at his postures, his prayer, the blood he sweat, and his bid for support from his apostles.

As a bonus, we look at what happened within the apostles’ psyches in the Garden of Gethsemane, and I offer an alternative explanation to the traditional criticisms of them being lazy or slothful.

Caption:  Disciples asleep in Garden of Gethsemane Felice Carena Les Apôrtres, Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Deed

Third, I have for you the 34-minute Interior Integration for Catholics episode 110 titled  Being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: Experiential Exercise. While episode 109 focused on your intellectual formation, helping your mind to more deeply understand and grasp what our Lord’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane really was, this exercise helps in your human formation to be with Him in that Garden. I invite you and your parts to approach Jesus in the psychological, emotional, relational, and bodily anguish he suffered in His humanity. Along the way, I invite you to notice your physical and emotional reactions in different parts to being present to Jesus, and invite you to understand more deeply what, in the natural realm, stands between you and Jesus in his agony.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, I offer you Interior Integration for Catholics episode 48, titled Shame and Repentance:  St. Dismas. In this 40-minute episode, we reconstruct the life of the “Good Thief” as he is known through the writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Maximus of Turin, St. Leo the Great, and the historical record.

Caption:  Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed

We discuss the who, what, where, when, why, and how of crucifixion, especially its impact on the body and the mind. We explore deeply the gospel accounts of Golgotha, and how St. Dismas understood the difference between shame and guilt. We explore how his response to his shame and his guilt was so much more healthy and adaptive than that of Judas, and we close with a brief experiential exercise.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, during the day, I invite you to take in Interior Integration for Catholics episode 47, titled Shame and Redemption: St. Peter and You. In this 60-minute episode, we take a deep dive inside of St. Peter’s mind, heart, body, and soul, trying to deeply understand what happened in his life, making sense of his decisions and his choices. We profile St. Peter’s parts, especially his managers, as he was a leader with courage and fortitude, but also as he defended against his own shame.

Caption:  Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed

We looked at Peter’s spontaneity, which could lead to rash actions, and we looked at how he overcame his intensity of the shame borne by his exiles, in contrast with Judas, who is overcome by his shame. We then closed with a brief experiential exercise, to help you connect with Peter in his different parts, and with the different elements of his story.

Pray on…

I am on a silent retreat on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Holy Week, so please keep me in your prayers; I am keeping our entire Souls and Hearts community in my prayers.  Thank you for all the prayers and the support you have given me personally and for Souls and Hearts as well.

In the Suffering Christ and His Sorrowful Mother in this Holy Week,

Dr. Peter

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