Page 6, 5th March 1976

5th March 1976
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Page 6, 5th March 1976 — To understand oneself is to understand God
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To understand oneself is to understand God

Keywords: Religion / Belief

by Fr TOM CURTIS HAYWARD

Prospects for the Soul by Vera von der Heydt (Darton, Longman & Todd £2) , As a priest involved in

pastoral work fur a number of years one gets to know the anxieties of different kinds of people. Many of these are projected on to other people: "Why couldn't they leave the Mass alone?" . . . "It's all this permissiveness on TV" ... "Our priest is a bit aloof" . . . "It's

greed" . "It's the bosses" ... "It's the unions". But often there is a cry from the heart: "I can't seem to keep up with it any more, Father, I'm all confused".

And the remedy for confusion? "If only the Church gave a clear line" . . . "If only we could go to Communion with other Christians" . . . "Prayer groups" . . . "House Masses" . .. "More concern for the Third World, and justice at home" . .. "Adult education" ... "More for women to do in the Church".

The banners are everywhere. rallying the supporters, coaxing, confident or quiet. Yet something is missing, even if I use all the right language and try ever so hard. Great gifts may be offered. but though I may name them I may not he able to receive them: something in me prevents me. and I don t know what it is.

Why do I get into strange moods and behave as though I were someone else? Are my appetites always dangerous? Why do I sometimes seem to be a mixing howl Inc all kinds of wild forces? What is the psychological value of devotion to Our Lady? Is my faith endangered by going to a nonCatholic analyst? Vera von der Heydt is a practising Catholic and a Jungian analyst who has had to find her own way to reconcile these two paths and hnd they can be clones She has also [Red this knowledge to help very many people, especially Catholics whose difficulities often turn out to be openings to the discovery of talent and adventure: treasure hidden in a field — that part of us which is unconscious until we are given the key to it, and a map to locate it.

Much of our difficulty with God comes from the way in which we have uncritically read into our notion 'of Him all kinds of fears and expectations that say more about our personal background that they do about His nature.

In the understanding of ourselves we come to have a greater under and ng in God. We are progressively made free of our illusions. This may make us lonely because we can no longer share them with others, but we shall begin to possess an inner compass that will keep us aware of our bearings no matter what happens to human history as it flows past us.

And we will be more, not less, able to he truly Christian. We need not withdraw in a superior way from the actions and experiments of the Christian community, but we will know more about how to give ourselves responsibly to what we are doing.

With the theologians we will find stimulating thoughts on the subject of religion (Chapter 6), of sin (Chapter 11 ), of Our I.ady (Chapter SI ).

There is no explicit treatment of Hell, and when I mentioned this to the author, she said: "1 don't think anyone goes there without sending himser.

The hook does not claim to he a compedium, but it will open up a new world for those who have not been this way before. and bring refreshment to those who have.

When we begin life we like to see it with the wonder of a child who is listening to a fairy story. We learn to do without the fairy people, but the basic truth remains: we can be always entertained by the wonders we can discover within our own experience — and be able to share Ilion with all our friends.




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