by Fr Richard Heilman | June 1, 2017 10:46 PM
While I only have a bachelors degree in psychology, my years of priesthood have taught me so much more. While there are chemical imbalance issues, and medications that offer more immediate relief, we must also look at the spiritual reasons for depression that, in many cases, may prolong or, in some cases, lead us into these chemical imbalances.
The point of this article is for us to always understand that, when our relationship with God is out of balance, this will likely lead to our emotions out of balance. We simply must factor in the spiritual side of this debilitating disorder so many suffer with today. Oftentimes, the way out of depression can come from a healthy spiritual life.
So, let’s look at the spiritual side of this …
When we boil it all down, we were created by God for a reason. The reason is to make the world a better place. We are fueled for that mission with grace. But, most importantly, “grace in action.” We don’t go to the gas station to park the car in the garage. Grace is not there to just give us some kind of “God buzz.”
Grace is given for a purpose, and here it is … We must set our heart on a cause or causes. The cause must involve a mission “beyond the family.” Sometimes, it will mean the family joins together in this cause(s). Sure, the family is our primary vocation, but it is not our only one. The family’s purpose is to be a unified force to make the world a better place. Imagine a world where everyone stopped short at “only” caring for their family. Our missions must reach beyond the home, as we model this “altruism” for our children. This is our call … this is how the world thrives in harmony and charity.
You see? Depression, many times, occurs when someone, knowingly or unknowingly, is trapped within themselves. St. Catherine of Siena put it this way: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
That’s it!! Sadness lays hold of us when we are living outside of our destiny. And, again, our destiny is to make the world a better place. We must transform our focus on self to self-forgetfulness, and begin to be about the business of impacting the world.
We are not speaking, here, about temporary sadness. That is a part of life. Even the sinless Son of God was distraught in the garden. He was a victim of forces coming against Him, as many are who enter into depression. Yes, Jesus was in anguish, but he didn’t remain there. He modeled for us exactly what to do … get up, and be about your mission(s).
This self-forgetfulness *begins* by revering EVERYONE. No, let me put that in another way. Self-forgetfulness begins by revering “the least among us.” Do you know what that means? It means we must not only be kind “only” to those who have something we need or want, or threaten losing something we have. Are we kind to a person because it will help our popularity … get us into the “in crowd”? Help us financially? What about the person who has no leverage for gaining our attention or kindness or help or even our smile? Do we ignore them or treat them in a condescending way, while we only revere – pay attention to – those who have something we want? We must give ourselves to the least among us – those who do not have something we want – and the fire of God’s Holy Spirit will ignite in our soul.
Depression can run rampant in a heart that asks, “Who can help me?” The cure for depression is a heart that asks, “How can I help you?”
Let’s unchain ourselves from self. Let’s discern the gifts God has given us, and go out into the world and be lavish and extravagant in how we offer ourselves for others, especially the least among us … those who do not have something we want.
But, we must begin by smiling at everyone we pass during our day. If we miss that, we miss everything.
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