How To Raise The Dead

Guest post by Jacob Francisco M.A., LMHC, Pastoral Counselor at

There is an emotion that can kill, and that emotion is called shame. Shame is the sense that deep down inside, at the very core of who we are, we are unlovable, unworthy, broken beyond repair, or otherwise
bad. This feeling is something we are all familiar with going all the way back to the garden of Eden. For some of us, this shame seems to kill a part of us. We may describe ourselves as feeling “dead inside” or talk about the skeletons in our closet. Another common description is feeling numb all the time. 

Shame feels repulsive or ugly, like something dead, and we do not want to think about it or anyone else to know about it. It’s a natural impulse to bury something that is dead. We do this in the physical world and we do this emotionally. So we toss it in a hole and throw heavy stones on top to keep it buried. We medicate our self-loathing or despair with things that make us feel better in the moment; food, TV, social media, substances, pornography or other sexual behaviors, oversleeping, overworking. The list is endless. Sometimes the thing we use to bury the shame is even more of what we are ashamed of, and so the cycle continues around and around. Oftentimes we are able to numb out the shame to the point that we rarely consider it consciously anymore. We may deny that we have any shame at all. This dead part of us that we have now buried is a festering, rotting, thing that poisons the other parts of us. It spreads like a plague into many areas of our life, warping our thoughts and emotions into twisted half-truths that trap us in despair or suffering. 

Christ came to raise the dead in all senses of that phrase. He came that you may have life, and have it to the full. When Lazarus had died and Jesus went to Bethany, Martha and Mary asked Jesus for a miracle. In response to this request He says, “Take away the stone.” In other words, Jesus requires an act of faith. He requires that they work for what they pray for. Jesus is the only one who can do this and He requires that we clear the way.

 Here are a few steps to do just that:

  1. Identify the stone. What are the stones I have piled up over my shame? What sinful or unhealthy behaviors do I feel stuck in or powerless to change?
  2. Work for the miracle. I must do what is in my power to grow and become more healthy. I must act before I feel better. I need to cut away sinful behavior from my life. I must act contrary to my unhealthy urges and desires.
  3. Seek help. Big stones rolled in front of tombs are heavy! You will need help from someone trustworthy, mature, and/or professional. Start asking the Lord for the faith you need to believe He can raise the dead.
  4. Tell your story. Shame is like mold. It grows where it is dark and cool and hidden. Share your story with a trusted person. Let the light and the heat into that tomb. 
  5. Have faith and courage. Do what is within your power, and God will do what is within His. Your faith can raise the dead.

If you would like more resources or support to work through shame or other difficult emotions, reach out to a Pastoral Counselor at

You Don’t Need Magic to Teach Good Manners

Have you ever witnessed a young child being carried out of church while having a meltdown and yelling, “No thank you! No thank you!” Or, on a more positive note, maybe you’ve been impressed by the polite behavior of the same young children during coffee and donut hospitality after Mass.

How did their parents get such polite children?

It’s not magic, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak said on a recent CatholicHOM podcast.

The key is to recognize that manners are not essentially about social niceties or impressing other people; instead, they are grounded in the recognition that other people are children of God and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

“To use good manners simply means: Are we making them feel comfortable? Are we making them feel cared for and lifted up? That is the foundation of good manners,” Lisa Popcak said.

Manners, then, are an integral part of the Liturgy of Domestic Church Life.

To Get Well-Mannered Kids, Model Good Manners

The first step in teaching good manners is for parents to model them. Young children learn by observing the behavior of adults, especially their parents. So, if you want polite children, show what that looks like—starting with your own kids.

“We have a tendency to think that, well, because we’re parents and they’re kids, we don’t have to be polite to them,” Greg Popcak said. “We just tell them what to do and they should do it.”

But if we want our children to say please and thank you, for example, “they’re only going to learn it if we’re saying it to them,” Lisa Popcak said. “So, if you’re saying, ‘Get me a diaper for your baby brother’—no, we should be saying, ‘Please get me a diaper for your baby brother.’ And then when the child comes back with the diaper, ‘Thank you so much, I really appreciate that!’”

Similarly, instead of simply telling a toddler no (“No, don’t touch that”), you might say, “No, thank you!” Before long, your toddler will be using the same language when he wants to refuse something.

Lisa Popcak was initially skeptical of this approach when she saw a friend using it with her child. “Nobody talks that way to their children,” she recalled thinking. “You just tell them, no, they can’t do that.”

But as she watched her friend’s son for a while, she noticed he was able to communicate politely even during emotionally intense situations. Inspired by this, Lisa and Greg adopted the practice with their own kids, with “beautiful” results.

Habitually using polite language with children is especially helpful during periods of high emotional temperatures, because the language is a reminder that both parent and child have dignity that we want to uphold. “That brings down the emotional temperature and keeps our thinking brain engaged,” Lisa Popcak said.

The Magic of the Do-Over Technique

Another effective way to teach kids polite language is to use the “do-over” technique, Greg Popcak said.

When a child demands something rudely, parents can calmly say, “I understand you want this. Let’s try asking for it politely. Can you say, ‘May I please have…?’” It’s critical not to use an angry or scolding tone; instead, adopt a helpful tone—it’s more effective than an angry tone, and again, it models the type of behavior you want your child to use with others as he grows up.

It’s important to note that using the do-over technique doesn’t mean giving children everything they ask for, even if they ask politely.

For example, if a child says, “Give me the chainsaw!” you can guide them to rephrase it as, “May I please have the chainsaw?” Once they ask politely, you can respond with, “Thank you for being so respectful and kind in the way you asked for that, sweetheart. But no, you may not have the chainsaw; it’s not safe for you.”

The child may not get exactly what she wants, but your praise and approval is a powerful reward in itself.

Modeling Helpfulness

Finally, Greg and Lisa Popcak recommend modeling and teaching helpfulness. So, for example, if someone in the family is going to the kitchen for something, model (and teach) the practice of asking others whether they would like anything as well.

Similarly, when you’re doing chores around the house or helping someone out, when the task is completed, make it a habit to always ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Don’t, however, take advantage of this considerate question by continually adding more chores to the list, the Popcaks warn. While you might occasionally ask for more help (like when you’re preparing to have guests over), It’s only considerate to show appreciation and let the child do something else.

Again, it’s important to remember that, in a Christian household, the whole point of manners is not to follow an empty social convention.

“When we use good manners in our home…we are taking little steps to remind (one another) of their dignity and worth as children of God,” Greg Popcak said.

To hear the whole podcast and get personalized parenting help, sign up for the CatholicHOM app and look for CatholicHOM podcast episode 41, “Mind Your Manners!” You can also find Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s Parenting with Grace books at

Use the ‘Fortress and Communion’ Prayer to Heal Past Hurts and Protect Your Heart

Have you ever felt deeply hurt or attacked, only to find yourself struggling to forgive and move forward? Christians are told to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them— but how do you do this when you are hurting?

This dilemma is what prompted Dave McClow, M.Div., LCSW, LMFT, a therapist at the Pastoral Solutions Institute, to develop a process of healing and forgiveness that he calls the “Fortress and Communion” prayer. This approach helps you protect your heart and transfer negative emotions, ultimately leading to genuine healing and forgiveness.

Understanding the Fortress and Communion Prayer

Dave explained the prayer process in a recent interview with When we are hurt, he said, our feelings become dysregulated, and we often turn the people who hurt us into enemies. Moreover, emotional hurt often shows up with physical symptoms.

“When emotions get activated, we get a feeling in our body—it could be in our stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, jaw, eyes, head,” he said. “These physical sensations signal that it’s time to address the underlying emotional pain.”

The Fortress and Communion prayer provides a structured way to begin the healing process and restore a sense of peace and balance, emotionally and physically.


Step 1: Building Your Fortress

The first part of the process is about protecting your heart, which McClow describes as creating a “fortress.” He likens it to the walled city of Jerusalem, with your heart being the Holy of Holies at the center of the Temple that must be protected. Visualize this fortress (like the walls around the city) and imagine placing those who have hurt you outside its walls.

McClow suggests that clients use vivid imagery, such as catapulting people out of the fortress, to create a physical and emotional boundary.

“When you get them outside, you want to feel a physiological shift,” he said. This shift might be felt in areas like your stomach or chest, where tension is stored. If the initial boundary doesn’t create enough relief, mentally push them farther away (a tropical island, the moon, Mars, etc.) until you feel a noticeable difference.

Step 2: Transferring Negative Emotions

Once the fortress is established and the hurtful individuals are outside, the next step is to transfer the negative emotions to Jesus. This is where the “communion” aspect comes in. Imagine Jesus on the cross outside your fortress, absorbing all the anger, hurt, and negative energy from the person who hurt you.

“Let all the anger, all the rage, all the hurt from that person go into Jesus,” Dave advised.

This step is about visualizing the transfer of these emotions, allowing Jesus to “take the hit” for you. It’s a deeply spiritual and healing process, McClow said: “Jesus is kind of our emotional sanitation department: he picks up our garbage, processes our sewage, and takes care of it for us.”

Step 3: The Resurrection and Transformation

After transferring the negative emotions to Jesus, ask him to take them through the resurrection. This step involves transforming the negative energy into something positive.

“In physics, you can’t destroy energy; you can only transfer or transform it,” McClow said. “We’ve transferred it; now we’re going to transform it.”

Visualize this transformation as an explosion of love and light, turning the negative into something beautiful. This step can be deeply felt, with some people imagining fireworks or other vivid images.

Step 4: Spiritual Communion

The final step is to ask Jesus to offer spiritual communion to everyone involved. This includes not only yourself and the person who hurt you but also extends to intergenerational healing.

“Ask Jesus to give communion—his infinite love—to everybody involved,” McClow said. “This includes your ancestors, any souls in purgatory connected to the event, and your descendants, ensuring that the healing permeates through generations.”

Sometimes, his clients are still reluctant to ask Jesus to give their enemy or persecutor communion. “If you’re still mad at the bully, you can visualize infinite love knocking him on his butt,” McClow said. “Because infinite love coming into a finite suffering is impactful. So if you need to do that, that’s fine.”

“In the Depths of the Heart’

The Fortress and Communion prayer draws on many sources in the Catholic tradition, but it takes particular inspiration from the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s reflection on the lines about forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer:

“It is there, in fact, ‘in the depths of the heart,’ that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2843).

That quote is the entire process in a nutshell, McClow said: “You can have the memory without the feelings. That’s purifying the memory by transforming hurt into intercession.”

The Fortress and Communion prayer is versatile and can be used in various situations, from dealing with past traumas to handling daily annoyances. Like many forms of contemplative or meditative prayer, it gets easier with practice. At first, you may want to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to walk through the process thoroughly. Once it becomes habitual, you will be able to do it in a few minutes—say, when you’re sitting in a frustrating work meeting or trying to be patient about a crying baby on the plane.

You can see a video walkthrough of the Fortress and Communion Prayer on YouTube.

If you’d like McClow to guide you through the process, or if you’d like to work with another Catholic counselor on healing and forgiveness, reach out at