S. Paul says that "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation
not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
(1) So we see that sorrow may be good or bad according to the
several results it produces in us. And indeed there are more bad
than good results arising from it, for the only good ones are
mercy and repentance; whereas there are six evil results, namely,
anguish, sloth, indignation, jealousy, envy and impatience. The
Wise Man says that "sorrow hath killed many, and there is no
profit therein," (2) and that because for the two good streams
which flow from the spring of sadness, there are these six which
are downright evil.
The Enemy makes use of sadness to try good men with his
temptations:--just as he tries to make bad men merry in their sin,
so he seeks to make the good sorrowful amid their works of piety;
and while making sin attractive so as to draw men to it, he
strives to turn them from holiness by making it disagreeable. The
Evil One delights in sadness and melancholy, because they are his
own characteristics. He will be in sadness and sorrow through all
Eternity, and he would fain have all others the same.
The "sorrow of the world" disturbs the heart, plunges it into
anxiety, stirs up unreasonable fears, disgusts it with prayer,
overwhelms and stupefies the brain, deprives the soul of wisdom,
judgment, resolution and courage, weakening all its powers; in a
word, it is like a hard winter, blasting all the earth's beauty,
and numbing all animal life; for it deprives the soul of sweetness
and power in every faculty.
Should you, my daughter, ever be attacked by this evil spirit
of sadness, make use of the following remedies. "Is any among you
afflicted?" says S. James, "let him pray." (3) Prayer is a
sovereign remedy, it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only Joy
and Consolation. But when you pray let your words and affections,
whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God.
"O God of Mercy, most Loving Lord, Sweet Saviour, Lord of my
heart, my Joy, my Hope, my Beloved, my Bridegroom."
Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although
all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily and indifferently,
do not give in. The Enemy strives to make us languid in doing good
by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts
to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by
reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off
Make use of hymns and spiritual songs; they have often
frustrated the Evil One in his operations, as was the case when
the evil spirit which possessed Saul was driven forth by music and
psalmody. It is well also to occupy yourself in external works,
and that with as much variety as may lead us to divert the mind
from the subject which oppresses it, and to cheer and kindle it,
for depression generally makes us dry and cold.
Use external acts of fervour, even though they are tasteless at
the time; embrace your crucifix, clasp it to your breast, kiss the
Feet and Hands of your Dear Lord, raise hands and eyes to Heaven,
and cry out to God in loving, trustful ejaculations: "My Beloved
is mine, and I am His. (4) A bundle of myrrh is my Well-beloved,
He shall lie within my breast. Mine eyes long sore for Thy Word, O
when wilt Thou comfort me! (5) O Jesus, be Thou my Saviour, and my
soul shall live. Who shall separate me from the Love of Christ?"
Moderate bodily discipline is useful in resisting depression,
because it rouses the mind from dwelling on itself; and frequent
Communion is specially valuable; the Bread of Life strengthens the
heart and gladdens the spirits.
Lay bare all the feelings, thoughts and longings which are the
result of your depression to your confessor or director, in all
humility and faithfulness; seek the society of spiritually-minded
people, and frequent such as far as possible while you are
suffering. And, finally, resign yourself into God's Hands,
endeavouring to bear this harassing depression patiently, as a
just punishment for past idle mirth. Above all, never doubt but
that, after He has tried you sufficiently, God will deliver you
from the trial.