Aleteia

Feeling down? Try these spiritual remedies from a saint

Francis de Sales
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St. Francis de Sales had much to say about getting out of a depressed mood.

Often when we are feeling down, it’s tough to pop out of it.

Besides seeking proper medical guidance when necessary, sometimes all we need is to seek the advice of the saints and see how they handled depression.

St. Francis de Sales wrote much about depression in his Introduction to the Devout Life, and had several specific remedies that he thought useful to combat it.

The first remedy he suggests is religious music.

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.

Secondly, he suggests distracting ourselves with activity to get our mind off whatever it is that is plaguing us.

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.

Third, St. Francis de Sales recommends praying frequently to Jesus crucified.

Use external acts of fervor, 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 aspirations: “My Beloved is mine, and I am His. A bundle of myrrh is my Well-beloved, He shall lie within my breast. Mine eyes long sore for your Word, O when will you comfort me! O Jesus, be my Savior, and my soul shall live. Who shall separate me from the Love of Christ?” 

Last of all, entrust your feelings to a spiritual director.

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.

Above all, struggle against low moods and don’t be resigned to them. Seek treatment for depression that interferes with your daily life and relationships. Offer up the struggle as part of joining your sufferings with those of Jesus.

God desires our peace of soul, and if we turn to him and seek the help we need, God will answer in his way.