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Therapist On The Human Condition… Even In His Risen Body, Christ Still Carried His Wounds

October 4, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

PHOENIX — Different orientations toward approaching life and God were part of a wide-ranging talk on faith and psychology at the Institute of Catholic Theology (ICT) here. Speaker Kenn Cramer also noted people’s persistent feelings of woundedness and deficiency even though God calls them to perfection.
Cramer’s presentation on “Faith: Human and Psychological Perspectives” lasted more than three hours on September 21 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, where the ICT is based.
He has a master’s degree in counseling from the Catholic Regis University in Denver and teaches psychology and theology as well as preparing theatrical presentations at the Diocese of Phoenix’s Bourgade High School here.
Illustrating the importance of each person to God, Cramer said, “You exist because God is constantly thinking of and knowing you,” and without God’s attention, the individual would cease to be.
The soul has three layers, Cramer said, the surface layer of casual interaction, the second layer that’s the seat of a person’s psychology, and the third, deep layer, “where your faith life happens…where God speaks to you.”
A person who lives only on the surface focuses on some topics like money, Cramer said, but “God meets you in the depths of life. . . . The Devil absolutely loves you to stay on the surface,” surrounded with technology and with no time for reflection.
“Modern psychology doesn’t believe in that third layer at all” of encountering God, but if anyone is going to receive their full healing, they require Jesus, Cramer said.
“We all encounter sin,” either committing it or being the recipient, he said. But either way “it hurts you” and put calloused places on the soul.
Later in his talk, Cramer told of his own attempted suicide at age 17, as well as his drug use and depression in college.
People have friends, therapists, priests, and others “all trying to help us clean up our wounds….We have to bear with one another.” However, “God doesn’t make perfect all of your wounds,” Cramer said.
Even when Jesus rose from the dead, “He still had His wounds. . . . Christ’s perfected body had the marks of His crucifixion,” although they weren’t bleeding any longer, he said, adding that psychological suffering can be turned into good.
Some people “are always stuck on Good Friday” and never want to go forward to the victory of Easter, he said, while others only want to have Easter.
God can redeem a person’s pain, but “He’s not going to make it all go away,” Cramer said, adding later, “. . . Your broken places can be the most beautiful part of you,” like the wounds in Jesus’ hands were the most beautiful part of Him.
“If the Devil can just tempt you with sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” then his work is done, he said, but if a person can go deeply, where the Devil can’t go, then all this evil spirit can do is pout.
He told of a saint who’d wake up and see a demon right by her, but she learned it couldn’t hurt her, so she could just go back to sleep.
During psychological therapy, Cramer said, “If you get people to go deep enough, they’re going to talk about God because it’s written on their hearts, whether it’s a positive or negative experience.”
People’s different attitudes to faith arise from their personalities, Cramer said, adding later that he struggled praying the rosary, but a priest gave him helpful advice to think of being a child coming home from school and pouring out the news of the day to the Blessed Mother as his own mother.
Cramer said he’s the type of person who talks in order to think and make decisions, while his wife is the exact opposite and thinks first.
He recalled that three months before their marriage, he was expressing his fears and doubts when he noticed that she was crying. Why? “You don’t want to marry me,” she said.
That wasn’t the case at all, he said, but she was regarding the way he processed his thoughts as conclusions he’d already arrived at.
“Everyone’s different. If you want to get the most out of them,” go through their strong points, he said.
Giving another illustration of personality differences, Cramer recalled younger days of living in a house with three other men, and everyone sharing the same refrigerator.
If Cramer brought home a six-pack of beer for himself, he’d put only two of the cans in the refrigerator to chill rather than disrupt everyone else’s items, he said, but when one of the roommates got a six-pack, he’d put all six cans in, even if that meant rearranging everything, because what good is having beer unless it’s cold?
Cramer spoke about God’s absolute interest in drawing everyone to Himself, but people can have damaging attitudes that hinder them.
“To gain eternal life and to be united to our Creator…the Lord asks you to be perfect….Lots of people have distorted images of God” and envision Him as waiting on a cloud to obliterate people for their sins, Cramer said. But “God is absolutely interested” in the person becoming a saint.

Vince Lombardi

He recalled legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi introducing himself to players on that football team by saying, “I am not remotely interested in just being good” as a team, but he expected excellence — even though he conceded no one can be perfect.
Lombardi required that his Catholic players attend Catholic services, and that the other players attended their churches, Cramer said.
People are made in the image and likeness of God, Cramer recalled, going on to say that when a person realizes how much God knows and cares about him, “you want to live in a specific way,” even though the individual still will make bad choices.
Sometimes it helps if a person realizes his own value by thinking of how important he is to God, Cramer said, but this doesn’t mean using a narcissistic way. “Putting yourself first, done correctly, you’re putting God first.”
Cramer said he struggled with depression in his younger years because he grew up with a father who said he wasn’t worth much, then he attempted suicide at age 17. The way his father treated him wasn’t right, Cramer added later, but his father was only a person, too.
One healing step was to say each night, “God, let me see myself as you see me,” in order to realize one’s own worth, he said. Realizing that, “I gotta honor that…that’s how you live in unity,” for people to see each other as God does.
Stressing the importance of Church members seeing each other as children of God, Cramer said the Church accomplished what it has in the world with only seven percent efficiency. “Talk about moving mountains” if 50 percent of Catholics were active in the same way, he said.
“People should be able to come to church broken and receive help,” Cramer said, adding that although he has disagreements with Pope Francis, he loves the Pope’s imagery of the Church as a field hospital.

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