Is the Church suffering from depression?
I sometimes wonder. A humorist once quipped
that most of today's vocal Christians look
as if they'd been baptized in vinegar and
not in water! Humor has become so rare. The
Jewish Talmud holds that "we will be
held accountable for neglecting to enjoy
the legitimate pleasures the Lord sends us."
You would not believe this. But there
organized groups whose sole mission
discover imperfections! Apparently
middle ages, the masters of tapestry
a lifetime creating works of art, but
order to profess humbly that only God
perfect, they deliberately inserted
in each piece of work. Well, these
groups charter flights to Europe, where
spend hours dissecting a single tapestry
to spot the mistake!
Perhaps they do it for fun. But many
do this all their life! Always frowning.
Always fault finding. They make their
and other people's lives miserable.
is that, if you've lost the joy, you've
That is it!
Humor is precious. It gives us a sense
perspective. A grandmother shared that
she was feeding lunch to her grandchildren,
one said in distress, "Grandma,
to pray. We always pray at our other
His older sister hushed him, saying,
we don't have to pray here. This grandma's
food is always good!"
Humor gives us an opportunity to acknowledge
our shortcomings, as the obese comedian
when he introduced himself as a recovering
anorexic. We all have shortcomings,
spend most of our lives trying to conceal
them and put the blame on others. Humor
this attitude. The word humor, after
springs from the same root as humility,
and humus - earthiness.
We live today in a culture of negativity.
With media and press obsessed with
controversy and crime, it is easy to
into the trap of seeing everything
Our initial reaction to a given situation
is, "It won't work" or "There's
something fishy about it" or,
case of beautiful weather, "It
The good news is that negativity is
reflex and anything that has been learned
can also be unlearned. Babies aren't
Can we resurrect the alleluias? The
saint Leonard of Port Maurice once
sadness to those in the world. We who
with God should be lighthearted."
Another saint, Clare of Assisi used
that, "Melancholy is the poison
And St. Philip Neri made it clear that,
will have no sadness in my house."
Paul himself stresses, "Rejoice
Lord always, again I say rejoice."
The laughter of the Saints is healthy,
and true; it has the pure sound of
at peace with God and man.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, meeting one
of his novices who was apparently in
darkest of moods, said to him: "My
I want you to laugh; I want you to
in the Lord; a religious has no reason
be sad, and he has many reasons to
The martyrs themselves preserved that
and cheerfulness even in the midst
most refined tortures. Whoever reads
the first time the passion of St. Lawrence
- he was burnt alive on a grill - must
a strange emotion at hearing the triumphant
pleasantry thrown by the holy martyr
his tormentor's face, "This side
now well done! Turn me over."
The pen of St. Teresa of Jesus often
such expressions as, "I had to
"I laughed heartily", "you
make me laugh." Some noble ladies
met St. Teresa in Madrid were so awed
her normalness that their only remark
: "God be blessed! Here is a saint
we can all imitate. She eats, sleeps,
laughs like other people, without affectation,
A good brother, who thought himself
and who answered to the attractive
Brother John of the Misery (!!), undertook
to draw her portrait. Teresa who, in
youth had been told she was pretty
confessed later on) had believed it,
not altogether pleased with the artistic
endeavors of the self-appointed portrait-maker,
for no sooner had she been given the
to observe the portrait, than she exclaimed:
"May God forgive you, brother,
made me so ugly!"
"Please," she said in a letter,
"narrate to others all the misfortunes
we have had with that kind of pious people.
. . It would be better to abstain from opening
new houses than to put in them melancholy
subjects. Religious of that stamp are the
ruin of monasteries. We should avoid them
as a plague. Not only are they sick, but
they sicken the whole community!!" She
was so right when she wrote : "A sad
saint is a very poor saint."
To be happy, live a simple, humble
And let yourself be guided by God.
brings you to it…He will get you through
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright