Loving a Parent Who Doesn’t Love You

weekly reflections Jul 27, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts Community,

So often I am asked, in these or similar words…

“What do I do if my Mom and Dad really didn’t love me when I was young and don’t love me now? How do I love them anyway, Dr. Peter? They think they loved me and raised me well as a kid, and they insist that they love me now. But they don’t even know me. We can’t have a discussion about whether they love me or not – the slightest criticism makes them hurt and angry. And...

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How Parents Use Their Children To Avoid Feeling Shame

weekly reflections Jul 20, 2022

Dear Souls & Hearts Community,

There is one primary, fundamental reason in the natural realm that impels parents to unwittingly mistreat their children.  There are other causes, but none is so powerful as this one.

And it may not be what you think.  It’s not primarily anger or depression or a need to control or self-absorption or demands for (near) perfection – those all factor in, but they are further down the chain, they are responses to the primary reason, not...

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The Sins of the Parents – Conveniently Denied

weekly reflections Jul 13, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts Community,

Imagine a person in my office, telling me…

But I want you to know, Doc, that my parents, they did the best that they could in raising me.”

How many times have I heard that statement, in various forms in my work? My parents did the best that they could.

And that’s a lie.

And not only is it a lie, it’s more than that.

It’s a thought-stopping cliché. And that general, blanket statement that “my parents...

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The Sins of the Fathers: Unexpressed Love

weekly reflections Jul 06, 2022

Good Wednesday to you, Souls and Hearts Members,

Your father really does love you deeply; he just doesn’t know how to express it.” How many mothers have said these or similar words to a son or daughter?

But “unexpressed love” is not love. I made this statement in passing in my most recent Interior Integration for Catholics podcast episode, number 95, titled “Trauma’s Devastating Impact on our Capacity to Love.”

And that was the statement that...

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The Conflicting Loves Inside You

weekly reflections Jun 29, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts Community Members, 

In last week’s reflection, from June 22, 2022, we discussed how sin is a “dangerous love,” drawing extensively from St. Augustine’s idea that sin is a “misdirected” or “misguided” love. I shared with you how the question is not whether we will love or not. The bigger question in our lives is who or what will we love?

This week, we’re going to dive into a much deeper understanding of the inner,...

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Dangerous Love

weekly reflections Jun 22, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts Community Members,

In last week’s reflection, I described seven ways to understand sin. Today, we are going to understand sin as “dangerous love.

And to do that, we are going to harmonize some concepts in modern psychology with the bedrock teaching of St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church. 

St. Augustine’s view of love

Love was absolutely central to Augustine’s conceptualization of the moral life. St. Augustine characterizes love as both...

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What is sin, really? Seven Ways to Understand Sin

weekly reflections Jun 15, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts Community Members,

Today, we’re discussing sin.  Sin.  The word appears more than 400 times in the Bible.  Paragraphs 1846 to 1876 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church focus on sin, among many others.

Sin.  We hear the word.  We think of definitions.  Let’s get into it today, drawing the broad outlines of seven ways to understand sin.

Definitions of sin

“It is not easy to define a sin” writes Gary Anderson,...

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Is that "Inner Voice" My Conscience?

weekly reflections Jun 08, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts Members,

One of the areas of confusion in our modern era is around the question of conscience.

Current popular and erroneous notions of conscience

It’s really popular in our culture today to discuss sin (when it is discussed at all) as violating your own conscience.  The modern world tells you that to be good and true, you have to tune in to your “inner voice” and listen to your internal moral compass.  Here’s just one example of...

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On “Mental Reservation” and Examining Our Motives

weekly reflections Jun 01, 2022

Dears Souls and Hearts Members,

Let’s start this reflection with an apocryphal story, a story of St. Athanasius of Alexandria and the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate:

In the Fourth Century A.D., the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate was out to kill St. Athanasius. Athanasius escaped from Alexandria by boat and imperial officers were in hot pursuit up the Nile. Looking over his shoulder and seeing the Roman officers gaining on him, Athanasius used the precious moments of concealment...

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Six Reasons for Catholics To Not Tell the Whole Truth

weekly reflections May 25, 2022

Dear Souls and Hearts members,

Circumstances matter in living out the truth.  Circumstances matter. What do I mean by this?

Context and nuance

As I reflected about the emphasis on living in the truth in my last few email reflections, I began to wonder if there might be some readers among you with scrupulous parts that were activated around fear of lying or misrepresenting the truth.

I also wondered about those of a more sensitive conscience that may feel impulses to explain, and to tell...

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