Grant yourself a pleasure: 5 remedies from St. Thomas against sadness.
Author: Carlo de Marchi | Source: Opus.Dei
Carlo de Marchi, vicar of the region of South Central Italy, gathered these ideas of St. Thomas in informal language at a conference in Florence.
Each of us has gone through sad days, days in which we aren´t able to overcome a certain heaviness inside that pollutes the mind and difficult relationships with others.
Is there a trick to overcome the moodiness, and smile again? St. Thomas Aquinas proposes five surprisingly effective remedies against sadness.
1. The first remedy is to grant yourself a pleasure.
It´s as if the famous theologian had intuited seven centuries ago the idea, so widespread today, that chocolate is an antidepressant. It may seem a materialistic idea, but it is clear that a day full of bitterness can finish well with a good beer.
Something that is contrary to the Gospel is difficult to prove, we know that the Lord willingly participated in banquets and parties, and both, before and after the Resurrection, He gladly enjoyed the beautiful things in life.
Even a Psalm says wine gladdens the heart of man (although it should be clear that the Bible clearly condemns drunkenness).
2. The second remedy is crying.
Often, a moment of melancholy is harder if you don´t manage to find an escape route, and it seems as if the bitterness accumulates to prevent carrying out the smallest task. Crying is a language, a way of expressing and undo the knot of pain that sometimes we can suffocate. Jesus also wept.
Pope Francis said that "certain realities of life are only eyes that have been cleansed by tears. I invite each of you to ask: Have I learned to mourn?”
- The third remedy is the compassion of friends.
It comes to my head the character’s friend Renzo, in the famous book The Betrothed, in a large house uninhabited because of the plague pinpoints the great misfortunes that have rocked his family.
"They are horrible facts that would have never believed it would come to see; things that take away the joy for life; but speaking them among friends is a relief.”
It´s something to be experienced to be believed. When you feel sad, it tends to see everything gray. On these occasions it´s very effective open the soul to a friend. Sometimes just a message or a phone call and brief overview lights you again.
Look out the window of truth and beauty can free the soul of the ugly walls of the room of sadness.
4. The fourth remedy against sadness is the contemplation of truth.
It´s the Veritatis splendor of which Saint Augustine speaks. The splendor of things in nature or a work of art, music, surprised by the beauty of a landscape... can be an effective balm against sadness.
A literary critic, a few days after the death of a dear friend, had to talk about the adventure on Tolkien. It began like this: "To speak of beautiful things to people interested is for me a real comfort."
5. Sleeping and bathing.
The fifth remedy proposed by St. Thomas is perhaps the one that might be least expected from a medieval master. The theologian says a great remedy against sadness is sleep and take a bath. The effectiveness of the advice is clear. It is Christian to deeply understand that remedy for spiritual wrong sometimes it´s necessary bodily relief. Since God became man, and thus has assumed a body, the material world has overcome the separation between matter and spirit.
A widespread prejudice is that the Christian vision of man is based on the opposition between soul and body, and the latter would always be seen as a burden or obstacle to the spiritual life. In fact, Christian humanism considers the person (soul and body) is completely spiritualized when seeking union with God.
Using words of St. Paul, there is an animal body and a spiritual body, and we will not die, but be changed, it´s necessary that this corruptible must put on incorruptibility, this mortal body must put on immortality.
"No one considers strange take a medical body as a guide for a spiritual disease," says St. Thomas More, reaffirming the thought of his medieval namesake.
"The body and soul are so closely united that together they form a single person, and so the discomfort of one of the two generates discomfort sometimes for both. Therefore I advise all that, before any disease of the body, confess, and looking for a good spiritual physician for the health of the soul; I also advise you to some diseases of the soul, besides the spiritual physician, seek the advice of the doctor's body."
Through these five remedies the human and divine promise of Jesus is made: "You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy."