We are living in a society where there is a crisis of self-worth. People are starving for attention, we struggle to take compliments, and regardless of the 9 positive comments we received throughout the day, the only thing we will remember is the one negative one. Not only will we remember the negative comment, but we will define ourselves by it because that one comment just revealed how little we already feel about ourselves.
I think it’s easy for most of us to get caught up in the lie that in order to minister to others we have to have everything figured out ourselves. Throughout my time in the counseling program this lie has been a constant struggle for me. When you’re working with other people’s wounds on a daily basis it’s so easy to look at your own and think “Really God? How in the world am I ever going to help them?”
One of the most frequent questions I get asked by people who know I am getting my Master’s in Counseling is how I am able to listen to my clients “problems” and not be affected by it. I think my response is somewhat surprising when I tell them, “I am affected by it.” It’s difficult to sit across from an individual day after day, listening to them bare their souls, their memories, their deepest, darkest secrets, their joys, and their triumphs and remain unaffected.
“Why has Jesus let me suffer so much?”
This was the question one of my clients asked me a couple weeks ago. I saw eyes filled with confusion and pain as she looked to me for the answer. It was an answer I couldn’t give her. Part of me felt helpless as I longed to give her some profound explanation that would bring some degree of consolation and understanding to her heart.
This past week I’ve spent time pondering the link between Pastoral Counseling and Catholic Social Teaching. The foundation of every principal of Catholic Social Teaching rests upon the belief that every single human being has inherent dignity. “Human life is sacred, and the dignity of the human person is the starting point for a moral vision for society. The person is the clearest reflection of God among us (USCCB).”
Much of the emphasis of my last two blogs has been purely theoretical in terms of understanding the foundation from which a Pastoral Counselor operates. And while Pastoral Counseling encompasses endless amounts of theoretical ideas and stretches across the various disciplines, what the process looks like in practical terms is just as important to note.
Today, as I write this, we celebrate the Feast day of a very special Saint; one who was called by Jesus the “secretary of His mercy.” St Faustina Kowalska, by the prompting of our Lord, devoted her life to proclaiming the message of Jesus’ Divine Mercy.
The last few weeks our Pastoral Counseling class has read, analyzed and discussed a multitude of articles aimed at the goal of piecing together a response to the question, “What is Pastoral Counseling?” It’s a pertinent question, considering the title of the course, but there’s not a simple answer. Pastoral Counselors may ask themselves, “How am I to guide and care for this soul that is before me?” But don’t Priests, spiritual directors and lay people who are serious about their brother’s salvation ask the same question?