Litanies of the Heart, Reviewed by Elizabeth Galanti

Feb 28, 2024

Dear Souls and Hearts member,

Elizabeth Galanti, MA, MBA is both a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (licensed in NY and FL) and an IFS Certified Therapist, and she has been active in both the Catholic and IFS worlds for a long time.  I am so excited to have her present her experience of Dr. Gerry’s book, Litanies of the Heart to round out our series of reviews of five books.

Litanies of the Heart, Reviewed by Elizabeth Galanti

Many months ago, Dr. Gerry Crete, author of Litanies of the Heart: Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress and Calming Anxiety Through Healing our Parts sent me a manuscript. He asked if I would consider reading it and writing an endorsement – which I did. Litanies of the Heart has since been published and was released in January 2024 by Sophia Institute Press and is available in both Kindle ($9.99) and paperback ($17).

While spending several hours in an airport and on a plane, flying to my home in Ave Maria, FL, I held the finished product in my hands and took a deep breath as I admired the cover of Litanies of the Heart.  I worked for a Christian Book Publisher in Marketing for six years so I enjoy all the creative aspects of a book before opening it to read.

Dr. Crete recently asked me to write a book review and my intent was to use my travel time to accomplish just that.  I have an MBA, worked in the business world for decades and am now a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, having achieved the highest professional rung of the ladder in Internal Family Systems (IFS).  A book review – that will be easy.

As I picked up my pen, a fearful part said: “Doesn’t he know we’re not a professional writer or a theologian or a Ph.D. or an expert in Christian anthropology? This could be a set-up for an absolute and total disaster. We could be humiliated. We could be seen as not good enough by Dr. Crete. Heck – we could be seen as not good enough by the entire universe – and beyond!” 

I took a few breaths and gave an internal smile to that 12-year-old girl who is a very familiar part of me.  She has undergone extensive healing thanks to Internal Family Systems, overlaid with solid Christian tenets.  I spoke to that little one inside of me with compassion and tenderness: “We don’t have to be anything we’re not.  We don’t have to pretend or be perfect. We’ll do our best.  Let me do the writing.  You go play with Jesus.”

In a nanosecond, her fear released its grip on my heart and I could feel her playful energy as she rode her bike with Jesus, squealing with delight, as together they raced down country roads in her beloved childhood hometown of Washington, Illinois.

With a calm confidence that had not been there moments earlier, I began to write. 

That personal, 15-second snippet exemplifies the fruits of Dr. Crete’s 283-page book.  IFS integrated with love for ourselves and others is a game-changer and allows us to live our lives boldly, aligned with Christian faith, like never before.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

The core wisdom and beauty of Dr. Crete’s book is not that he’s laying out a psychological theory for healing but rather he is melding reputable, psychological parts theory with solid Catholic teaching, scripture and Catholic anthropological underpinnings.  It is in that intersection that Dr. Crete becomes a hope merchant. He holds the dream that each one of us can become more functional, more calm, more solid in decision-making, more in the present moment, more regulated, more at peace and more of the person we want to be.

Dr. Crete’s writing style is uniquely engaging and exudes a sense of authority from solid Christian faith with historical perspectives.  He is clear and concise as he provides a solid overview and thorough explanations of the framework of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) theory, developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz.

This book will benefit individuals and professionals to transform and advance emotional improvement, spiritual direction, therapeutic interventions, coaching and personal growth – all within a spiritual context. 

Musings and likes

In his book, Dr. Crete provides solid explanations about parts-based theories, including Internal Family Systems (IFS), that embrace a commonly accepted idea that every person has multiple sub-personalities or parts of them.  When these aspects of a person’s personality become too strong or domineering, it leads to problematic habits and behaviors that create stress, anxiety, depression, shame and/or feelings of overwhelm.  The goal of IFS therapy is to help people become aware of different parts of themselves, to understand the relational turmoil within our own psyche, to heal the vulnerable parts that have been exiled, to eliminate/reduce problematic behaviors and to help people live more fulfilling lives. 

Yet, a common question typically arises for many Catholics when going to therapy or reading psychology-based books.  Is this new age?  Does IFS challenge my faith and beliefs?  What does the Catholic Church say about this?

Dr. Crete addresses these concerns head-on and states that much of IFS is useful.  He also interjects: “Other aspects of IFS contradict certain Christian doctrines and need correcting.  This book, therefore, is not a book on IFS per se but, rather, adapts IFS and other parts-based approaches such as Ego State Therapy, to a Christian understanding of humanity; we recognize what is good and useful and reject what is problematic.”

I began a discovery process and healing journey with IFS 20 years ago as a client when I was losing my sanity in a stressful corporate environment.  My IFS therapist helped me become aware of the vulnerable parts of me that were overwhelmed and fearful of failing (exiles) and the stronger parts that implement strategies (protectors) that pushed me into behaviors that were exhausting, unfulfilling and repetitive – namely, workaholism and people pleasing. 

I struggled in the beginning with the question: does this therapy align with Catholic teaching?  I met with Fr. Mike, my parish priest, on a regular basis and he helped me see the fruits of IFS and helped me re-align where IFS veered too far from Catholic teaching.

My heart melted about half-way through Litanies of the Heart as I realized: “Finally, a sound, solid resource for my Catholic clients and all Catholics who are unsure if IFS is a psychotherapy that aligns with church teaching.”  I had Fr. Mike help me with that integration. The world now has Dr. Crete who fills that space, dutifully and beautifully.

A problematic area where Dr. Crete raises red flags with IFS is in the use and description of “Self” by Dr. Schwartz (originator of IFS).  Throughout Schwartz’s writings and training sessions, he speaks of his own journey from agnosticism to Hinduism and Buddhism so his conceptualism of one’s spiritual core is quite different than what we know from Christian history.  The concept of Self is not problematic.  Dr. Schwartz’s description of Self, his perception of Christian anthropology and lack of understanding Christian theology is the problem.

Dr. Crete uses a more appropriate phrase, inmost self and provides a historical Christian perspective.  He explains we can access the 8 C’s of IFS (compassion, curiosity, clarity, creativity, calm, confidence, courage, and connectedness) from our inmost self.  The inmost self is our spiritual core where grace flows – love grows – and healing happens.  It is an unbroken, untainted place that exists in all of us. 

Dr. Crete writes: “If the inmost self can be seen as synonymous with the heart in this regard, then the inmost self includes the conscience and can choose between good and evil.”  Dr. Crete later states: “When we allow our inmost self to interact positively with our parts, the entire system starts working in positive ways. We become more functional, more integrated, more present and more relational.”

As the chapters unfold, Dr. Crete incorporates the components of Internal Family Systems with robust scripture and Christian traditions. Each chapter starts with a real-life vignette, an exploration of the psychology of the interior world, applicable scripture study, life applications and reflection questions.

The organization of the book is brilliant.  My favorite sections are the life applications.  Dr. Crete weaves a linkage of meditation with psychology through the litanies: Litany of the Wounded Heart, Litany of the Closed Heart, Litany of the Fearful Heart.  The litanies are aligned with three attachment styles: dismissing-avoidant, anxious-preoccupied and fearful-avoidant.

Dr Crete explains: “The goal of all 3 Litanies of the Heart is to gently work through one’s insecurities to enter a safe, secure, loving relationship with Christ.  He is the secure attachment style par excellence.”

Without any psychoanalysis needed, Dr. Crete makes it accessible to the reader to identify our wounded attachment style and he carefully places just the right litany into our hands.

My mother admitted in my adult years that she suffered from post-partem depression during the birth/infancy of her last three children so she was not able to be fully attentive to our needs.  Being the youngest, it makes sense to me that I was insecurely attached to my mother because she wasn’t capable of being fully present, due to her own emotional distress and chemical imbalance after six children and one miscarriage.

The litanies are a healing balm for the relational injury that each of us went through in the first couple years of our life.  The pain of that relational injury typically plagues us into our adult years and can be eradicated in the unburdening process of IFS.  The litanies remind, guide and help us in a prayerful way to form a new and stronger attachment with Jesus.

I especially liked the caveat that Dr. Crete included in the epilogue of his book: “Although not by any means a replacement to therapy, this book might serve as a helpful adjunct to your therapeutic and healing journey.”  There is nothing more profound or powerful than to go through IFS healing with the help of a qualified and compassionate professional.

Musings and critique

There are two areas that left me wanting more: the sub-title and the skimpy writing on forgiveness of others.

My primary concern is that the sub-title (Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress and Calming Anxiety Through Healing our Parts) might inadvertently shrink the audience for Dr. Crete’s book.  I want a pithier sub-title so that it appeals to a larger audience.

In my work as a therapist, most people who walk through my doors are hurting and want off the roller coaster. They often say they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Psychological labels like Post-Traumatic Stress provide more opportunity for someone to say – “that’s not me so this book isn’t for me.”

As it relates to forgiveness, Dr. Crete wrote in the preface: “In the course of my own healing journey, I have been especially helped through spiritual direction and therapy. My faith in God and relationship with Jesus has also had a profound positive impact on my healing journey. My relationships with caring, loving, and forgiving loved ones has also been impactful.” 

I can relate to Dr. Crete’s description of the fruits of his healing experience.  My own transformation journey provided similar outcomes.  Forgiveness of others was paramount in my own healing journey.  My clients often express they want to be able to forgive, yet it seems out of their reach.

Dr. Crete uses some form of the word “forgive” 21 times in his book.  Most of those 21 mentions relate to receiving forgiveness – which is lovely.  Yet only 2-3 of those mentions have to do with forgiving others.

The degree to which we can forgive others is in direct correlation to our own healing.  Many people want to jump to the point of being able to forgive someone who hurt them “because I’m a Catholic/Christian and I should be able to forgive.”  That comes from a protector and it’s an intellectual attempt to forgive.  It doesn’t work. 

Forgiveness comes from the heart.  People carry extra heavy burdens of guilt and shame when they can’t forgive.  Those burdens and pain preclude our ability to forgive. Yet, being able to forgive those who have hurt us is the pinnacle of one’s transformation of our mind and, even more importantly, of our heart.

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34).  Jesus proclaims that message moments before his last three words, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

The importance of forgiving others while we are still sojourning on this earth … is modeled by Jesus.  It is the final letting go of that stone in our heart. In my opinion, IFS with a Christian shroud can take a person to new heights – to be able to forgive others.

Jesus invites us to join him in that place of love and forgiveness.  It was one of his greatest moments and He wants the same for us.  “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

Forgiving others is the pièce de resistance in our own redemption and flourishing for the glory of God! 

###

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your experience of the book with us; I am grateful for it. 

More on Dr. Gerry’s book…

Maria V. Gallagher of CatholicMom.com shared her internal reactions to reading Dr. Gerry’s book here.  She closes her review by stating:

Litanies of the Heart is a ground-breaking book which weds the best of psychology and spirituality, helping the Christian to find peace in the aftermath of chaos. The reflection questions aid the reader in discerning the lessons that can be learned following painful events. I found this work to be a source of solace for me, offering a blueprint for healing that I can turn to again and again, particularly during trying times. It is comforting to know that a rainbow can appear after the most savage of storms.     

Florida Catholic Media also published a review of Dr. Gerry’s book titled Watershed Book ‘will help the broken find comfort, consolation, and healing for their wounds’.          

The paperback version Dr. Gerry’s book is sold out at the Sophia Press website, but you can still place an order for when it is back in stock.  This rapid depletion of the paperback version is remarkable, as it means the publisher has sold out of the original print run in just six weeks, which is an indication of very lively demand – so thank you to all of you who bought it!  The paperback is still available as of today at Amazon here and on Kindle here.

Dr. Gerry on the air…

In an excellent 68-minute episode titled Parts Work (Part 1) on their podcast Restore the Glory, Jake Khym and Dr. Bob Schucht discuss with Dr. Gerry his book.  Make sure you check this out, as the Jake and Dr. Bob have a deeper and better grasp of parts work, psychology, and human formation than 99.9% of podcast or radio hosts. 

In this 39-minute episode on the Federalist Radio Hour from February 20, 2024 Gerry Crete Explains ‘Litanies Of The Heart’, Dr. Gerry joins Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss his approach to effectively resolving trauma.

Join Dr. Gerry with host Colleen Kelly Mast on the Catholic Radio show Mast Appeal for February 10, 2024 episode as they discuss his book Litanies of the Heart with a live audience, starting at about the 55-minute mark. 

Dr. Gerry was a guest with Andy Hooser on The Voice of Reason to discuss his book as well, join in at the 23-minute mark of the episode Gerry Crete: Healing Trauma and the Mental Health Crisis

Dr. Peter on the air with Chris Stefanick…

I joined my buddy Chris on the Chris Stefanick Show for an episode that released yesterday titled The TRUTH About Conspiracy Theories (Or Is It?!) with Dr. Peter Malinoski.  This was such a fun episode for us to do with an exploration of the motives that impel the pursuit of conspiracy theories and specific recommendations about how to relate well with those who cling tightly to such ideas. 

Be With the Word for the Third Sunday of Lent

Join Dr. Gerry for Be With the Word for this Sunday’s readings for the 23-minute episode titled Window of Tolerance.  Dr. Gerry discusses the readings from the Third Sunday of Lent and continues his discussion of “dissociation” as he describes the “window of tolerance” and what happens emotionally when we go outside of it. Dr. Gerry discusses the difference between normal feelings such as anger and sinful reactions such as rage, wrath, and vengeance.  Dr. Gerry reads the Mass readings aloud here and shares a meditation on how to stay emotionally regulated in an 18-minute recording here

Please keep praying for us!  Dr. Gerry and I have added St. Joseph as a patron, given his role in our Lord’s human formation.  So…

Our Lady, our Mother, Untier of Knots…pray for us.

St. Joseph… pray for us.

St. John the Baptist… pray for us.

Warm regards in Christ and His Mother,

Dr. Peter

Elizabeth Galanti, MA, MBA is both a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (licensed in NY and FL) and an IFS Certified Therapist, and she has been active in both the Catholic and IFS worlds for a long time.  I am so excited to have her present her experience of Dr. Gerry’s book, Litanies of the Heart to round out our series of reviews of five books.

Litanies of the Heart, Reviewed by Elizabeth Galanti

Many months ago, Dr. Gerry Crete, author of Litanies of the Heart: Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress and Calming Anxiety Through Healing our Parts sent me a manuscript. He asked if I would consider reading it and writing an endorsement – which I did. Litanies of the Heart has since been published and was released in January 2024 by Sophia Institute Press and is available in both Kindle ($9.99) and paperback ($17).

While spending several hours in an airport and on a plane, flying to my home in Ave Maria, FL, I held the finished product in my hands and took a deep breath as I admired the cover of Litanies of the Heart.  I worked for a Christian Book Publisher in Marketing for six years so I enjoy all the creative aspects of a book before opening it to read.

Dr. Crete recently asked me to write a book review and my intent was to use my travel time to accomplish just that.  I have an MBA, worked in the business world for decades and am now a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, having achieved the highest professional rung of the ladder in Internal Family Systems (IFS).  A book review – that will be easy.

As I picked up my pen, a fearful part said: “Doesn’t he know we’re not a professional writer or a theologian or a Ph.D. or an expert in Christian anthropology? This could be a set-up for an absolute and total disaster. We could be humiliated. We could be seen as not good enough by Dr. Crete. Heck – we could be seen as not good enough by the entire universe – and beyond!” 

I took a few breaths and gave an internal smile to that 12-year-old girl who is a very familiar part of me.  She has undergone extensive healing thanks to Internal Family Systems, overlaid with solid Christian tenets.  I spoke to that little one inside of me with compassion and tenderness: “We don’t have to be anything we’re not.  We don’t have to pretend or be perfect. We’ll do our best.  Let me do the writing.  You go play with Jesus.”

In a nanosecond, her fear released its grip on my heart and I could feel her playful energy as she rode her bike with Jesus, squealing with delight, as together they raced down country roads in her beloved childhood hometown of Washington, Illinois.

With a calm confidence that had not been there moments earlier, I began to write. 

That personal, 15-second snippet exemplifies the fruits of Dr. Crete’s 283-page book.  IFS integrated with love for ourselves and others is a game-changer and allows us to live our lives boldly, aligned with Christian faith, like never before.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

The core wisdom and beauty of Dr. Crete’s book is not that he’s laying out a psychological theory for healing but rather he is melding reputable, psychological parts theory with solid Catholic teaching, scripture and Catholic anthropological underpinnings.  It is in that intersection that Dr. Crete becomes a hope merchant. He holds the dream that each one of us can become more functional, more calm, more solid in decision-making, more in the present moment, more regulated, more at peace and more of the person we want to be.

Dr. Crete’s writing style is uniquely engaging and exudes a sense of authority from solid Christian faith with historical perspectives.  He is clear and concise as he provides a solid overview and thorough explanations of the framework of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) theory, developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz.

This book will benefit individuals and professionals to transform and advance emotional improvement, spiritual direction, therapeutic interventions, coaching and personal growth – all within a spiritual context. 

Musings and likes

In his book, Dr. Crete provides solid explanations about parts-based theories, including Internal Family Systems (IFS), that embrace a commonly accepted idea that every person has multiple sub-personalities or parts of them.  When these aspects of a person’s personality become too strong or domineering, it leads to problematic habits and behaviors that create stress, anxiety, depression, shame and/or feelings of overwhelm.  The goal of IFS therapy is to help people become aware of different parts of themselves, to understand the relational turmoil within our own psyche, to heal the vulnerable parts that have been exiled, to eliminate/reduce problematic behaviors and to help people live more fulfilling lives. 

Yet, a common question typically arises for many Catholics when going to therapy or reading psychology-based books.  Is this new age?  Does IFS challenge my faith and beliefs?  What does the Catholic Church say about this?

Dr. Crete addresses these concerns head-on and states that much of IFS is useful.  He also interjects: “Other aspects of IFS contradict certain Christian doctrines and need correcting.  This book, therefore, is not a book on IFS per se but, rather, adapts IFS and other parts-based approaches such as Ego State Therapy, to a Christian understanding of humanity; we recognize what is good and useful and reject what is problematic.”

I began a discovery process and healing journey with IFS 20 years ago as a client when I was losing my sanity in a stressful corporate environment.  My IFS therapist helped me become aware of the vulnerable parts of me that were overwhelmed and fearful of failing (exiles) and the stronger parts that implement strategies (protectors) that pushed me into behaviors that were exhausting, unfulfilling and repetitive – namely, workaholism and people pleasing. 

I struggled in the beginning with the question: does this therapy align with Catholic teaching?  I met with Fr. Mike, my parish priest, on a regular basis and he helped me see the fruits of IFS and helped me re-align where IFS veered too far from Catholic teaching.

My heart melted about half-way through Litanies of the Heart as I realized: “Finally, a sound, solid resource for my Catholic clients and all Catholics who are unsure if IFS is a psychotherapy that aligns with church teaching.”  I had Fr. Mike help me with that integration. The world now has Dr. Crete who fills that space, dutifully and beautifully.

A problematic area where Dr. Crete raises red flags with IFS is in the use and description of “Self” by Dr. Schwartz (originator of IFS).  Throughout Schwartz’s writings and training sessions, he speaks of his own journey from agnosticism to Hinduism and Buddhism so his conceptualism of one’s spiritual core is quite different than what we know from Christian history.  The concept of Self is not problematic.  Dr. Schwartz’s description of Self, his perception of Christian anthropology and lack of understanding Christian theology is the problem.

Dr. Crete uses a more appropriate phrase, inmost self and provides a historical Christian perspective.  He explains we can access the 8 C’s of IFS (compassion, curiosity, clarity, creativity, calm, confidence, courage, and connectedness) from our inmost self.  The inmost self is our spiritual core where grace flows – love grows – and healing happens.  It is an unbroken, untainted place that exists in all of us. 

Dr. Crete writes: “If the inmost self can be seen as synonymous with the heart in this regard, then the inmost self includes the conscience and can choose between good and evil.”  Dr. Crete later states: “When we allow our inmost self to interact positively with our parts, the entire system starts working in positive ways. We become more functional, more integrated, more present and more relational.”

As the chapters unfold, Dr. Crete incorporates the components of Internal Family Systems with robust scripture and Christian traditions. Each chapter starts with a real-life vignette, an exploration of the psychology of the interior world, applicable scripture study, life applications and reflection questions.

The organization of the book is brilliant.  My favorite sections are the life applications.  Dr. Crete weaves a linkage of meditation with psychology through the litanies: Litany of the Wounded Heart, Litany of the Closed Heart, Litany of the Fearful Heart.  The litanies are aligned with three attachment styles: dismissing-avoidant, anxious-preoccupied and fearful-avoidant.

Dr Crete explains: “The goal of all 3 Litanies of the Heart is to gently work through one’s insecurities to enter a safe, secure, loving relationship with Christ.  He is the secure attachment style par excellence.”

Without any psychoanalysis needed, Dr. Crete makes it accessible to the reader to identify our wounded attachment style and he carefully places just the right litany into our hands.

My mother admitted in my adult years that she suffered from post-partem depression during the birth/infancy of her last three children so she was not able to be fully attentive to our needs.  Being the youngest, it makes sense to me that I was insecurely attached to my mother because she wasn’t capable of being fully present, due to her own emotional distress and chemical imbalance after six children and one miscarriage.

The litanies are a healing balm for the relational injury that each of us went through in the first couple years of our life.  The pain of that relational injury typically plagues us into our adult years and can be eradicated in the unburdening process of IFS.  The litanies remind, guide and help us in a prayerful way to form a new and stronger attachment with Jesus.

I especially liked the caveat that Dr. Crete included in the epilogue of his book: “Although not by any means a replacement to therapy, this book might serve as a helpful adjunct to your therapeutic and healing journey.”  There is nothing more profound or powerful than to go through IFS healing with the help of a qualified and compassionate professional.

Musings and critique

There are two areas that left me wanting more: the sub-title and the skimpy writing on forgiveness of others.

My primary concern is that the sub-title (Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress and Calming Anxiety Through Healing our Parts) might inadvertently shrink the audience for Dr. Crete’s book.  I want a pithier sub-title so that it appeals to a larger audience.

In my work as a therapist, most people who walk through my doors are hurting and want off the roller coaster. They often say they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Psychological labels like Post-Traumatic Stress provide more opportunity for someone to say – “that’s not me so this book isn’t for me.”

As it relates to forgiveness, Dr. Crete wrote in the preface: “In the course of my own healing journey, I have been especially helped through spiritual direction and therapy. My faith in God and relationship with Jesus has also had a profound positive impact on my healing journey. My relationships with caring, loving, and forgiving loved ones has also been impactful.” 

I can relate to Dr. Crete’s description of the fruits of his healing experience.  My own transformation journey provided similar outcomes.  Forgiveness of others was paramount in my own healing journey.  My clients often express they want to be able to forgive, yet it seems out of their reach.

Dr. Crete uses some form of the word “forgive” 21 times in his book.  Most of those 21 mentions relate to receiving forgiveness – which is lovely.  Yet only 2-3 of those mentions have to do with forgiving others.

The degree to which we can forgive others is in direct correlation to our own healing.  Many people want to jump to the point of being able to forgive someone who hurt them “because I’m a Catholic/Christian and I should be able to forgive.”  That comes from a protector and it’s an intellectual attempt to forgive.  It doesn’t work. 

Forgiveness comes from the heart.  People carry extra heavy burdens of guilt and shame when they can’t forgive.  Those burdens and pain preclude our ability to forgive. Yet, being able to forgive those who have hurt us is the pinnacle of one’s transformation of our mind and, even more importantly, of our heart.

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34).  Jesus proclaims that message moments before his last three words, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

The importance of forgiving others while we are still sojourning on this earth … is modeled by Jesus.  It is the final letting go of that stone in our heart. In my opinion, IFS with a Christian shroud can take a person to new heights – to be able to forgive others.

Jesus invites us to join him in that place of love and forgiveness.  It was one of his greatest moments and He wants the same for us.  “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

Forgiving others is the pièce de resistance in our own redemption and flourishing for the glory of God! 

###

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your experience of the book with us; I am grateful for it. 

More on Dr. Gerry’s book…

Maria V. Gallagher of CatholicMom.com shared her internal reactions to reading Dr. Gerry’s book here.  She closes her review by stating:

Litanies of the Heart is a ground-breaking book which weds the best of psychology and spirituality, helping the Christian to find peace in the aftermath of chaos. The reflection questions aid the reader in discerning the lessons that can be learned following painful events. I found this work to be a source of solace for me, offering a blueprint for healing that I can turn to again and again, particularly during trying times. It is comforting to know that a rainbow can appear after the most savage of storms.     

Florida Catholic Media also published a review of Dr. Gerry’s book titled Watershed Book ‘will help the broken find comfort, consolation, and healing for their wounds’.          

The paperback version Dr. Gerry’s book is sold out at the Sophia Press website, but you can still place an order for when it is back in stock.  This rapid depletion of the paperback version is remarkable, as it means the publisher has sold out of the original print run in just six weeks, which is an indication of very lively demand – so thank you to all of you who bought it!  The paperback is still available as of today at Amazon here and on Kindle here.

Dr. Gerry on the air…

In an excellent 68-minute episode titled Parts Work (Part 1) on their podcast Restore the Glory, Jake Khym and Dr. Bob Schucht discuss with Dr. Gerry his book.  Make sure you check this out, as the Jake and Dr. Bob have a deeper and better grasp of parts work, psychology, and human formation than 99.9% of podcast or radio hosts. 

In this 39-minute episode on the Federalist Radio Hour from February 20, 2024 Gerry Crete Explains ‘Litanies Of The Heart’, Dr. Gerry joins Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss his approach to effectively resolving trauma.

Join Dr. Gerry with host Colleen Kelly Mast on the Catholic Radio show Mast Appeal for February 10, 2024 episode as they discuss his book Litanies of the Heart with a live audience, starting at about the 55-minute mark. 

Dr. Gerry was a guest with Andy Hooser on The Voice of Reason to discuss his book as well, join in at the 23-minute mark of the episode Gerry Crete: Healing Trauma and the Mental Health Crisis

Dr. Peter on the air with Chris Stefanick…

I joined my buddy Chris on the Chris Stefanick Show for an episode that released yesterday titled The TRUTH About Conspiracy Theories (Or Is It?!) with Dr. Peter Malinoski.  This was such a fun episode for us to do with an exploration of the motives that impel the pursuit of conspiracy theories and specific recommendations about how to relate well with those who cling tightly to such ideas. 

Be With the Word for the Third Sunday of Lent

Join Dr. Gerry for Be With the Word for this Sunday’s readings for the 23-minute episode titled Window of Tolerance.  Dr. Gerry discusses the readings from the Third Sunday of Lent and continues his discussion of “dissociation” as he describes the “window of tolerance” and what happens emotionally when we go outside of it. Dr. Gerry discusses the difference between normal feelings such as anger and sinful reactions such as rage, wrath, and vengeance.  Dr. Gerry reads the Mass readings aloud here and shares a meditation on how to stay emotionally regulated in an 18-minute recording here

Please keep praying for us!  Dr. Gerry and I have added St. Joseph as a patron, given his role in our Lord’s human formation.  So…

Our Lady, our Mother, Untier of Knots…pray for us.

St. Joseph… pray for us.

St. John the Baptist… pray for us.

Warm regards in Christ and His Mother,

Dr. Peter

Dear {{first_name}},

Elizabeth Galanti, MA, MBA is both a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (licensed in NY and FL) and an IFS Certified Therapist, and she has been active in both the Catholic and IFS worlds for a long time.  I am so excited to have her present her experience of Dr. Gerry’s book, Litanies of the Heart to round out our series of reviews of five books.

Litanies of the Heart, Reviewed by Elizabeth Galanti

Many months ago, Dr. Gerry Crete, author of Litanies of the Heart: Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress and Calming Anxiety Through Healing our Parts sent me a manuscript. He asked if I would consider reading it and writing an endorsement – which I did. Litanies of the Heart has since been published and was released in January 2024 by Sophia Institute Press and is available in both Kindle ($9.99) and paperback ($17).

While spending several hours in an airport and on a plane, flying to my home in Ave Maria, FL, I held the finished product in my hands and took a deep breath as I admired the cover of Litanies of the Heart.  I worked for a Christian Book Publisher in Marketing for six years so I enjoy all the creative aspects of a book before opening it to read.

Dr. Crete recently asked me to write a book review and my intent was to use my travel time to accomplish just that.  I have an MBA, worked in the business world for decades and am now a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, having achieved the highest professional rung of the ladder in Internal Family Systems (IFS).  A book review – that will be easy.

As I picked up my pen, a fearful part said: “Doesn’t he know we’re not a professional writer or a theologian or a Ph.D. or an expert in Christian anthropology? This could be a set-up for an absolute and total disaster. We could be humiliated. We could be seen as not good enough by Dr. Crete. Heck – we could be seen as not good enough by the entire universe – and beyond!” 

I took a few breaths and gave an internal smile to that 12-year-old girl who is a very familiar part of me.  She has undergone extensive healing thanks to Internal Family Systems, overlaid with solid Christian tenets.  I spoke to that little one inside of me with compassion and tenderness: “We don’t have to be anything we’re not.  We don’t have to pretend or be perfect. We’ll do our best.  Let me do the writing.  You go play with Jesus.

In a nanosecond, her fear released its grip on my heart and I could feel her playful energy as she rode her bike with Jesus, squealing with delight, as together they raced down country roads in her beloved childhood hometown of Washington, Illinois.

With a calm confidence that had not been there moments earlier, I began to write. 

That personal, 15-second snippet exemplifies the fruits of Dr. Crete’s 283-page book.  IFS integrated with love for ourselves and others is a game-changer and allows us to live our lives boldly, aligned with Christian faith, like never before.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

The core wisdom and beauty of Dr. Crete’s book is not that he’s laying out a psychological theory for healing but rather he is melding reputable, psychological parts theory with solid Catholic teaching, scripture and Catholic anthropological underpinnings.  It is in that intersection that Dr. Crete becomes a hope merchant. He holds the dream that each one of us can become more functional, more calm, more solid in decision-making, more in the present moment, more regulated, more at peace and more of the person we want to be.

Dr. Crete’s writing style is uniquely engaging and exudes a sense of authority from solid Christian faith with historical perspectives.  He is clear and concise as he provides a solid overview and thorough explanations of the framework of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) theory, developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz.

This book will benefit individuals and professionals to transform and advance emotional improvement, spiritual direction, therapeutic interventions, coaching and personal growth – all within a spiritual context. 

Musings and likes

In his book, Dr. Crete provides solid explanations about parts-based theories, including Internal Family Systems (IFS), that embrace a commonly accepted idea that every person has multiple sub-personalities or parts of them.  When these aspects of a person’s personality become too strong or domineering, it leads to problematic habits and behaviors that create stress, anxiety, depression, shame and/or feelings of overwhelm.  The goal of IFS therapy is to help people become aware of different parts of themselves, to understand the relational turmoil within our own psyche, to heal the vulnerable parts that have been exiled, to eliminate/reduce problematic behaviors and to help people live more fulfilling lives. 

Yet, a common question typically arises for many Catholics when going to therapy or reading psychology-based books.  Is this new age?  Does IFS challenge my faith and beliefs?  What does the Catholic Church say about this?

Dr. Crete addresses these concerns head-on and states that much of IFS is useful.  He also interjects: “Other aspects of IFS contradict certain Christian doctrines and need correcting.  This book, therefore, is not a book on IFS per se but, rather, adapts IFS and other parts-based approaches such as Ego State Therapy, to a Christian understanding of humanity; we recognize what is good and useful and reject what is problematic.

I began a discovery process and healing journey with IFS 20 years ago as a client when I was losing my sanity in a stressful corporate environment.  My IFS therapist helped me become aware of the vulnerable parts of me that were overwhelmed and fearful of failing (exiles) and the stronger parts that implement strategies (protectors) that pushed me into behaviors that were exhausting, unfulfilling and repetitive – namely, workaholism and people pleasing. 

I struggled in the beginning with the question: does this therapy align with Catholic teaching?  I met with Fr. Mike, my parish priest, on a regular basis and he helped me see the fruits of IFS and helped me re-align where IFS veered too far from Catholic teaching.

My heart melted about half-way through Litanies of the Heart as I realized: “Finally, a sound, solid resource for my Catholic clients and all Catholics who are unsure if IFS is a psychotherapy that aligns with church teaching.”  I had Fr. Mike help me with that integration. The world now has Dr. Crete who fills that space, dutifully and beautifully.

A problematic area where Dr. Crete raises red flags with IFS is in the use and description of “Self” by Dr. Schwartz (originator of IFS).  Throughout Schwartz’s writings and training sessions, he speaks of his own journey from agnosticism to Hinduism and Buddhism so his conceptualism of one’s spiritual core is quite different than what we know from Christian history.  The concept of Self is not problematic.  Dr. Schwartz’s description of Self, his perception of Christian anthropology and lack of understanding Christian theology is the problem.

Dr. Crete uses a more appropriate phrase, inmost self and provides a historical Christian perspective.  He explains we can access the 8 C’s of IFS (compassion, curiosity, clarity, creativity, calm, confidence, courage, and connectedness) from our inmost self.  The inmost self is our spiritual core where grace flows – love grows – and healing happens.  It is an unbroken, untainted place that exists in all of us. 

Dr. Crete writes: “If the inmost self can be seen as synonymous with the heart in this regard, then the inmost self includes the conscience and can choose between good and evil.”  Dr. Crete later states: “When we allow our inmost self to interact positively with our parts, the entire system starts working in positive ways. We become more functional, more integrated, more present and more relational.

As the chapters unfold, Dr. Crete incorporates the components of Internal Family Systems with robust scripture and Christian traditions. Each chapter starts with a real-life vignette, an exploration of the psychology of the interior world, applicable scripture study, life applications and reflection questions.

The organization of the book is brilliant.  My favorite sections are the life applications.  Dr. Crete weaves a linkage of meditation with psychology through the litanies: Litany of the Wounded Heart, Litany of the Closed Heart, Litany of the Fearful Heart.  The litanies are aligned with three attachment styles: dismissing-avoidant, anxious-preoccupied and fearful-avoidant.

Dr Crete explains: “The goal of all 3 Litanies of the Heart is to gently work through one’s insecurities to enter a safe, secure, loving relationship with Christ.  He is the secure attachment style par excellence.

Without any psychoanalysis needed, Dr. Crete makes it accessible to the reader to identify our wounded attachment style and he carefully places just the right litany into our hands.

My mother admitted in my adult years that she suffered from post-partem depression during the birth/infancy of her last three children so she was not able to be fully attentive to our needs.  Being the youngest, it makes sense to me that I was insecurely attached to my mother because she wasn’t capable of being fully present, due to her own emotional distress and chemical imbalance after six children and one miscarriage.

The litanies are a healing balm for the relational injury that each of us went through in the first couple years of our life.  The pain of that relational injury typically plagues us into our adult years and can be eradicated in the unburdening process of IFS.  The litanies remind, guide and help us in a prayerful way to form a new and stronger attachment with Jesus.

I especially liked the caveat that Dr. Crete included in the epilogue of his book: “Although not by any means a replacement to therapy, this book might serve as a helpful adjunct to your therapeutic and healing journey.”  There is nothing more profound or powerful than to go through IFS healing with the help of a qualified and compassionate professional.

Musings and critique

There are two areas that left me wanting more: the sub-title and the skimpy writing on forgiveness of others.

My primary concern is that the sub-title (Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress and Calming Anxiety Through Healing our Parts) might inadvertently shrink the audience for Dr. Crete’s book.  I want a pithier sub-title so that it appeals to a larger audience.

In my work as a therapist, most people who walk through my doors are hurting and want off the roller coaster. They often say they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Psychological labels like Post-Traumatic Stress provide more opportunity for someone to say – “that’s not me so this book isn’t for me.

As it relates to forgiveness, Dr. Crete wrote in the preface: “In the course of my own healing journey, I have been especially helped through spiritual direction and therapy. My faith in God and relationship with Jesus has also had a profound positive impact on my healing journey. My relationships with caring, loving, and forgiving loved ones has also been impactful.” 

I can relate to Dr. Crete’s description of the fruits of his healing experience.  My own transformation journey provided similar outcomes.  Forgiveness of others was paramount in my own healing journey.  My clients often express they want to be able to forgive, yet it seems out of their reach.

Dr. Crete uses some form of the word “forgive” 21 times in his book.  Most of those 21 mentions relate to receiving forgiveness – which is lovely.  Yet only 2-3 of those mentions have to do with forgiving others.

The degree to which we can forgive others is in direct correlation to our own healing.  Many people want to jump to the point of being able to forgive someone who hurt them “because I’m a Catholic/Christian and I should be able to forgive.”  That comes from a protector and it’s an intellectual attempt to forgive.  It doesn’t work. 

Forgiveness comes from the heart.  People carry extra heavy burdens of guilt and shame when they can’t forgive.  Those burdens and pain preclude our ability to forgive. Yet, being able to forgive those who have hurt us is the pinnacle of one’s transformation of our mind and, even more importantly, of our heart.

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34).  Jesus proclaims that message moments before his last three words, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

The importance of forgiving others while we are still sojourning on this earth … is modeled by Jesus.  It is the final letting go of that stone in our heart. In my opinion, IFS with a Christian shroud can take a person to new heights – to be able to forgive others.

Jesus invites us to join him in that place of love and forgiveness.  It was one of his greatest moments and He wants the same for us.  “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

Forgiving others is the pièce de resistance in our own redemption and flourishing for the glory of God! 

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Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your experience of the book with us; I am grateful for it. 

More on Dr. Gerry’s book…

Maria V. Gallagher of CatholicMom.com shared her internal reactions to reading Dr. Gerry’s book here.  She closes her review by stating:

Litanies of the Heart is a ground-breaking book which weds the best of psychology and spirituality, helping the Christian to find peace in the aftermath of chaos. The reflection questions aid the reader in discerning the lessons that can be learned following painful events. I found this work to be a source of solace for me, offering a blueprint for healing that I can turn to again and again, particularly during trying times. It is comforting to know that a rainbow can appear after the most savage of storms.     

Florida Catholic Media also published a review of Dr. Gerry’s book titled Watershed Book ‘will help the broken find comfort, consolation, and healing for their wounds’.          

The paperback version Dr. Gerry’s book is sold out at the Sophia Press website, but you can still place an order for when it is back in stock.  This rapid depletion of the paperback version is remarkable, as it means the publisher has sold out of the original print run in just six weeks, which is an indication of very lively demand – so thank you to all of you who bought it!  The paperback is still available as of today at Amazon here and on Kindle here.

Dr. Gerry on the air…

In an excellent 68-minute episode titled Parts Work (Part 1) on their podcast Restore the Glory, Jake Khym and Dr. Bob Schucht discuss with Dr. Gerry his book.  Make sure you check this out, as the Jake and Dr. Bob have a deeper and better grasp of parts work, psychology, and human formation than 99.9% of podcast or radio hosts. 

In this 39-minute episode on the Federalist Radio Hour from February 20, 2024 Gerry Crete Explains ‘Litanies Of The Heart’, Dr. Gerry joins Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss his approach to effectively resolving trauma.

Join Dr. Gerry with host Colleen Kelly Mast on the Catholic Radio show Mast Appeal for February 10, 2024 episode as they discuss his book Litanies of the Heart with a live audience, starting at about the 55-minute mark. 

Dr. Gerry was a guest with Andy Hooser on The Voice of Reason to discuss his book as well, join in at the 23-minute mark of the episode Gerry Crete: Healing Trauma and the Mental Health Crisis

Dr. Peter on the air with Chris Stefanick…

I joined my buddy Chris on the Chris Stefanick Show for an episode that released yesterday titled The TRUTH About Conspiracy Theories (Or Is It?!) with Dr. Peter Malinoski.  This was such a fun episode for us to do with an exploration of the motives that impel the pursuit of conspiracy theories and specific recommendations about how to relate well with those who cling tightly to such ideas. 

Be With the Word for the Third Sunday of Lent

Join Dr. Gerry for Be With the Word for this Sunday’s readings for the 23-minute episode titled Window of Tolerance.  Dr. Gerry discusses the readings from the Third Sunday of Lent and continues his discussion of “dissociation” as he describes the “window of tolerance” and what happens emotionally when we go outside of it. Dr. Gerry discusses the difference between normal feelings such as anger and sinful reactions such as rage, wrath, and vengeance.  Dr. Gerry reads the Mass readings aloud here and shares a meditation on how to stay emotionally regulated in an 18-minute recording here

Please keep praying for us!  Dr. Gerry and I have added St. Joseph as a patron, given his role in our Lord’s human formation.  So…

Our Lady, our Mother, Untier of Knots…pray for us.

St. Joseph… pray for us.

St. John the Baptist… pray for us.

Warm regards in Christ and His Mother,

Dr. Peter

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