Son of Man – 2: Response to “Le Père Sévère”

In relation to my previous post, I shall now proceed to start deconstructing the writing Son of Man by Le Père Sévère (1/15/2016). Since many error-points exist in the said banana-peel writing which need to be fully addressed, I will tackle one or two points (at the most) and their related issues each time, in this and subsequent posts, to spare readers a possible headache from an otherwise overly lengthy response.

In the first paragraph of Son of Man, Le Père Sévère wrote:

What seems to define the martyr is not insensibility to pain but an extraordinary concern for (captivation by) the integrity of the self-image. In other words, narcissism—narcissism taken to the point where fidelity to the self-image, to the ego ideal, countenances the starvation of desire. This is why the figure of Christ is such a troublesome one for institutionalized Christianity. For Christ the martyr is also the most egotistical of figures, a fanatic who prefers death over compromise. The schismatic history of Christianity was preordained by the example of its founder.

Using Christ as the epitome of the martyr, Le Père Sévère attempted to define the Christian martyr as a first-class egotistical, fanatical narcissist for whom nothing else counts except the unbrokenness – the unfragmented purity and integrity, if you will – of the self-image. This attitude and disposition was termed “extraordinary.” Le Père Sévère also defined the Christian martyr as starving of all natural desire, to attain this unattainable fantasy-based goal.

In the attempt, however, to explain the martyrdom of Christ’s human nature from within such a weak – starving – purported viewpoint of psychoanalytic psychology, Le Père Sévère failed, intentionally or otherwise, to consider five basic facts (four of them spiritual) that cannot be reduced to mere psychologizations. These facts are that

  1. Christ was the only-begotten Son of God (the Father);
  2. The difference between image and likeness in the nature of mankind;
  3. The ontology of the extraordinary;
  4. The natural desires experienced by Christ the Man; and
  5. The real reason He died on the Cross.

Specifically, Christ was not just a Man, but also the Son of God the Eternal Father. As such, unlike the rest of mankind (common man), Christ did not have just a human nature and a human will, but also a divine nature and the Divine Will. Although He deliberately divested Himself of His divine nature at the very instance of His human conception.

Christ the Man was conceived with the image of God intact within Him, as the said image is, indeed, similarly imprinted and retained intact within the immortal souls of all mankind – the only creatures who have been, are, and will keep on being thus created, from among all creatures, until the end of all time. However, because He was God in His own right and the Son of God, unlike common man, Christ the Man was also conceived with the fullness – the unbrokenness, the unfragmented purity and integrity – of the likeness after God. A fullness present, to date, in no other creature after Adam and Eve (first created man and first created woman) right from the very instance of conception, except for the Virgin Mary, the human mother of Christ.

It is precisely because Christ the Man was conceived with and retained within Him, throughout His entire life, the fullness of both the image and the likeness, that He in no way ever experienced what Le Père Sévère termed a “starvation of desire.” On the contrary. Christ the Man experienced within Himself the very fullness of all the natural desires granted to common man by God, from the beginning of the creation of man. However, Christ deliberately, by His human will both fully immersed in the Divine Will and in accordance with the latter, did not act upon one of those desires even when tempted to do so, because He was fully cognizant of the real reason why He had been conceived as a Man in the first instance.

The Ontology of the Extraordinary, Narcissism, and the Christian Martyr 

Le Père Sévère termed the attitude and the disposition of the Christian martyr as one characterized by “extraordinary concern” for the unattainable fantasy-based goal (narcissism). In other words, a pathological attitude and disposition, if the basis for such reasoning is assumed to be the modernist holdout of clinical wisdom in psychology, of the norm of the third standard deviation (3rd SD) on the standard normal (z) distribution scale of probabilities, for psychopathology to be present. But the uncritical acceptance of the 3rd SD norm as clinically significant, without further examination, begs the questions:

What is extraordinary? What is ordinary?

The ordinary in mainstream psychology has, for the larger part of the 19th and 20th centuries, generally been considered that which falls loosely under the wide middle of the Bell curve. Anything external to that particular delineation has generally been considered extraordinary. However, without even needing to turn a further eye to the underlying methodology and standardization populations of the z distribution scale itself, the former aforementioned considerations – in reality, considerations of probabilities – have failed to account for the fact that

  1. Psychology as a field is the creation of men;
  2. It has always been a field predominated by Anglo-Saxon ideology because of its roots, particularly as manifested through its Austrian, British, German, and White American (WASP) schools of thought and practice;
  3. Psychology has, to this day, largely failed to effectively account for the high prevalences of attitude and disposition variants (diversity of attitudes and dispositions) present among, for example, racial minorities (to mention just one significant group of non-WASPs), without not-so-infrequently stereotyping and pathologizing the said attitudes; resulting in a statistically significant number of false positives (Type I errors), particularly in Western countries;
  4. Psychology appropriated its pathophysiological notions of the ordinary and the extraordinary from the field of medicine, especially Western-based medicine, to become more acceptable to medical professionals; and
  5. Its current, mainstream notions of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the normal and the pathological, have, not infrequently, been derived not from empirical evidence – indeed, this has often been ridden roughshod over – but from politically and financially motivated committee selections and personally motivated voting. This particularly applies to the methodologies underlying the clinical taxonomies of the DSMs (and related ICDs) released after 1987, both at the Axis I and Axis II levels – the ‘bibles’ of psychology and psychiatry.

Furthermore, psychology, due to its man-made nature but not limited to this factor, has spectacularly failed to effectively account both for the true nature of man and the prevalences and diversity of spiritual experiences among mankind, without resorting to reductionistic pathologizations and practices in compensation for its structural, theoretical-conceptual, empirical, systemic, and practical inadequacies. A very significant lack and limitation, given both the nature of man and the stated aims of the field, which psychology itself, in this 21st century day and age, is just starting to publicly admit to and attempt to remediate – so far, without effect. Hence manifesting to what degree psychology, in reality, both was and still is a starving field, despite its accomplishments to date and its unceasing desire to be all-encompassing and all-providing.

What is extraordinary, therefore? What is ordinary?

If the attitude of the Christian martyr is seen from the lens of spirituality instead of that of psychology, it is easy to recognize that the claimed “extraordinary” is not so extraordinary after all, in the pathological sense of the word, because man was, in reality, created by God, for God; to return to God (particularly the Father and Creator) and become god by grace – deified man, which he was always intended to be and, indeed, was. Hence the ordinary and the real in relation to the nature of common man, and the very reason for his existence – an ordinary and a real that was and will be, until the end of all time. It is for that specific reason that Christ the Man died: to open up the pathway so that common man could, indeed, return to God and live in the fullness of both the image and the likeness – the ordinary and the real – in every dimension of his being, for eternity; not to selfishly and narcissistically restore His own self-image for His own self-gain. It is also a spiritual and physical reality seemingly far, at present, from the immediate horizon of considerations of Le Père Sévère, but which exists nonetheless – and not just for the select few, but for the many. An attainable, reality-based goal, courtesy of the freely-available divine grace of God the All-Encompasser and the All-Provider.

Son of Man – 1: Response to “Le Père Sévère”

It has not been a regular practice of mine on this site to respond publicly to either anonymous or pseudonymous interlocutors, in relation to blog posts. Yesterday, however, through a remark that linked back to my page on Lacan’s concept of the Nom-du-Père as the master signifier for the Name of (God) the Father and which remark was clearly intended for me to find, I learned that someone going by the pseudonym of Le Père Sévère [The Severe Father] had commenced writing a blog – aptly titled nom-du-père – about the intersection of Lacan and Christianity; and whose first post Son of Man contains significant, albeit subtle, errors of reasoning in both the realms of psychology and spirituality. Le Père Sévère‘s remark, referred to above, was that I am “an unashamedly reactionary, Catholic Lacanian.”

Now, normally, I would simply pass by such an obvious tease. But given

  1. the particular identity of this pseudonymous interlocutor – who, it turns out, is not-so-pseudonymous after all, despite the attempt. Sorry to disappoint you, Le Père Sévère!
  2. the nature of the remark itself – which I by no means contest;
  3. the subtle errors of reasoning – which can easily deceive the unsuspecting;
  4. the relevance of the raised subject matter in relation to this site;
  5. the fact that Le Père Sévère attends” – derived from the word attendre and a double play on it: that is, both takes note (presumably of what has been written about Lacan’s Nom-du-Père and God the Father), and waits (presumably for the response); and
  6. that responding would be, at least, an educative process for all involved; both writers and readers,

I have decided, after due consideration, to pick up the gauntlet and play in the space in between, by responding publicly to Le Père Sévère. Stay tuned, therefore, for the next posts in which I will fisk the Son of Man and more, in relation to the intersection between Lacan, psychology, and Christian spirituality in the apostolic tradition.

The End of Prayer Shaming

For true knowledge of God

“I beg and beseech You, Lord: grant to all who have gone astray a true knowledge of You, so that each and every one may come to know Your glory” – Saint Isaac the Syrian.

Thank You, beloved Father

Thank You, beloved Heavenly Father, for all the graces You have given me. I love You, I adore You, and I worship You, O beautiful Father, with all my heart.

Relics of the Saints: January-February

Relics of the Saints Bk 1 Front CoverHere is my latest book, just out, co-authored with Villanova University professor of art, Fr. Richard G. Cannuli, O.S.A. Below is the Hope and Life Press release for the book. Enjoy!

Relics of the Saints: January-February is the first of six volumes in the HOPE AND LIFE PRESS SERIES on relics of the saints of the universal church. Written by the Reverend Richard G. Cannuli, O.S.A., and Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, Relics of the Saints (Vol. 1) features in large, full color illustrations the first and second class relics, many of them rare, of 42 saints and blesseds venerated by the Catholic Church and/or the Orthodox Church during the liturgical months of January and February. Included are relics of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints Anthony the Great, Basil of Caesarea, Cyril and Methodius, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Ephraim the Syrian, Gregory of Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers, the Japanese Martyrs, John the Baptist, John Chrysostom, Josephine Bakhita, Marcella of Rome, Maximus the Hagiorite, Seraphim of Sarov, Symeon the God-receiver, Thomas Aquinas, and the Three Kings among others. Highlights of the lives of the saints and blesseds are also presented from authoritative sources, together with details of where the relics may now be found. Relics of the Saints: January-February is available in paperback and ebook editions directly from Hope and Life Press, Amazon globally, and major booksellers.

About the Authors

The Reverend Richard G. Cannuli, O.S.A., is professor of studio art at Villanova University and one of the foremost iconographers today. He is also a master watercolorist and world-renowned designer of liturgical vestments. Cannuli is the iconographer-author of the book Approaching the Divine: A Primer in Iconography  (2014, Hope & Life Press). His icons can be found in several churches and collections across the globe, including in the possession of Pope Francis; Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, and at the famous monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai, Egypt.

Marcelle Bartolo-Abela is a Catholic Christian writer on faith and spirituality in daily life. She is also the founder and director of Hope and Life Press. Bartolo-Abela is the author of the books A Voice Calling God’s People, Deification of Man in Christianity, God’s Gift to Humanity: The Relationship Between Phinehas and Consecration to God the Father; The Divine Family: Experiential Narratives; The Divine Heart of God the Father, The Icon of the Divine Heart of God the Father: Apologia and Canon; The Warrior-Prince: Saint Michael the Archangel; and Thoughts for the Day: Reflections for the Soul. 


Merry Christmas to you all


The pure love of God

The pure love of God – the Most Holy Trinity – through the ceaseless entreaties of the holy and pure Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, will bring real peace to the world. To them, therefore, it is to whom you have to turn for thus has it been written in Scripture. Nothing else; no one else.

Only when we return to God

Only when we return to God will we find true peace.

Love those who hate you – Thought for the day

“To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit [is] that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (Lk 6:27-35).

Do we want our divine inheritance?

Everything God the Almighty Father and Creator has is ours for the taking, if we want it. And that for eternity. But the paramount questions are, “Do we want it? Do we truly want our divine inheritance – or not?”

When God the Father becomes absent in our lives

When God the Almighty Father is literally and not-so-literally chased away by ourselves because we do not want Him for whatever reason, He respects our will and becomes absent from our hearts and lives. Sheer chaos then ensues because it is the Father Who provides order by being order in Himself.

Can Satan give you peace? – Response to a question

The question was asked, “Can Satan give you peace?” The answer is a resounding, “No!” Satan has no peace of his own, being hatred personified. So how can someone who does not have any peace of their own give peace – true peace – to someone else?

Only God can give peace because He is peace in Himself. In fact, one of the markers of a lack of the necessary centrality of God in people’s lives is a lack of peace, because where God truly resides, there is peace.

The beauty of silence

The beauty of silence is that within it, our heart, mind, body, and soul rest. Silence is very loved by God because prior to creation, there were only God and silence. Nothing else; no one else. Hence in silence you will find God – Him whom you are deep down restlessly seeking, but presently not finding.

For those in the Church who would ‘lynch’ whomever disagrees with them

“And Jesus replied, ‘A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds, and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.” ‘Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ The scholar of the law answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise'” (Lk 10:30-37).