The early Church fathers gave Jesus the title of the “Divine Physician.” This nature of Christ doesn’t just apply to healing our physical ailments — it also extends to our emotional and mental struggles. The basis of the science of psychology is to grow in understanding of the human person. In order to truly understand our human nature — our motivations, our choices — we must embrace the fact that we are created in God’s image. As we journey through life, a deeper relationship with Christ means letting Him lead us on the path to self-discovery. God wants us to have self-awareness, so we can get to the root of our sin and have more compassion for those around us.
That is why Dr. John McCormack started a series of monthly presentations and has continued to offer them over the last 25 years.
“There are some old-fashioned ideas that psychology and Christianity are adversaries instead of allies,” Dr. McCormack says. “Fifty years ago, that probably was accurate — however, now we realize how important both aspects of our nature are. There are so many ways that psychology and spirituality converge. And we just keep seeing that psychology continues to confirm what Christ taught us over 2,000 years ago.”
One such example of this convergence between psychology and spirituality includes how our brain reacts to gratitude. Psychology has shown time and again how earthly happiness comes from a spirit of gratitude. This is a very important part of the Bible and Jesus’ teachings. We hear frequently in the Psalms about offering a “sacrifice of praise” to God even through difficulties.
“When we focus on living a life of gratitude, we see a path to happiness that is more successful than the other goals that are often set for people in our world, such as fame or fortune,” Dr. McCormack says.
Recently, Dr. McCormack changed the name of these monthly presentations to use the word “seminar.” Previously, he felt this word sounded especially formal, but he recently learned that the word seminar is derived from the Latin word seminarium, which means “seed plot.”
“This was an inspiration to me because that is what our goal is here — to plant seeds that the Holy Spirit can use to help others,” Dr. McCormack says.
These seminars are held in the day chapel on the third Tuesday of each month. The covered topics vary but include the following subjects: “Quieting My Mind So I Can Pray,” “How Suffering Can Lead to Psychological and Spiritual Growing,” “Grateful Living, a Pathway to Health and Happiness,” and “Having the Courage to be Vulnerable.” Though there are themes that run through the different seminars, they are standalone and can be attended individually without people feeling like they are coming in the middle of something.
“Each seminar is something that people can come to at any point,” Dr. McCormack says. “We have a format of beginning with prayer, looking at the current psychological thoughts on our particular topic, and then focusing the second half on the Christian spirituality of that subject and weaving the two together. We have exercises to do to experience it and understand it on a deeper level as well.”
This opportunity to learn and grow in self-awareness is something that Christ invites us to while growing in relationship with Him. Each day, we are encouraged to invite Him into our present moment. That is one way that we see deep spiritual growth in ourselves as He is able to make each moment holy.
“People have shared that these seminars have helped them learn to pray better, helped them learn to forgive themselves and forgive others, and helped them grow closer to God,” Dr. McCormack says. “I am thankful that this interweaving of my professional and spiritual life has enabled me to help others in this way as well.”
All are invited to attend these seminars on the third Tuesday of each month in the day chapel.