The Mass as psychotherapy

Evleen Mann

In a personal reflection, Evleen Mann writes that the Mass holds the potential for our transformation, as does psychotherapy. The experience of our human frailty being compassionately understood and forgiven helps us to forgive others, bringing healing. The author worked as a medical doctor, before training as a psychotherapist.?She writes as part of the Dympna Circle. The Circle currently consists of three women therapists who write, combining spiritual and therapeutic practice.

Daniel McCarthy triggered this reflection with his article ?Out of the Embers? in The Tablet (October 2009). In explaining how attending Mass with our community makes us whole and congruent, he echoed the outcome of therapeutic encounter most desired in person-centred psychotherapy. By the end of the article, he almost talked me out of my job: we don?t need psychotherapists, just to be fully present to the grace of the sacrament of the Mass!

The relationship between a psychotherapist and an individual echoes that of the community at Sunday Mass, or vice versa: there are the commonalities of a roughly one hour session; the regular time in the week; the difficulties of getting there, tuning in and separating ourselves from the clamour of daily life; the familiar place with soothing and anthropologically meaningful rituals, often with incense or healing fragrances; there is an exchange of money for the privilege; and most importantly, an expectation of change in our way of being, the better for ourselves, our fellow Christians and society at large.

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