Give yourself a pleasure: the five remedies of St. Thomas Aquinas against Sadness
Sadness can hurt the person and its relationships, and it is worth to overcome, using weeping, friendship, rest.
Carlo de Marchi, the vicar of the south-central Italy region, compiled these ideas of St. Thomas in informal language at a congress in Florence.
Every one of us has gone through sad days, days in which we cannot overcome a certain inner heaviness that pollutes the mood and hinders relations with others.
Is there a trick to overcome the moodiness and recover the smile? Saint Thomas Aquinas proposes five remedies of astonishing efficacy against sadness
1. The first remedy is to indulge in pleasure.
It is as if the famous theologian had already intuited seven centuries ago the idea, so widespread today, that chocolate is antidepressant. It may seem like a materialistic idea, but a day full of bitterness can end well with a good beer.
That something like this is contrary to the Gospel is hardly demonstrable: we know that the Lord was happy to participate in banquets and parties, and before and after the resurrection he enjoyed the beautiful things of life.
Even a psalm claims that wine makes man's heart happy (although it must be clarified that the Bible condemns drunkenness).
2. The second remedy is crying.
Often, a moment of melancholy is harder if one cannot find an escape route, and it seems as if bitterness builds up to prevent the smaller task from being carried out. Crying is a language, a way of expressing and undoing the knot of a pain that can sometimes suffocate us. Also, Jesus wept.
Pope Francis points out that "certain realities of life are seen only with eyes that have been wiped out by tears. I invite each one of you to ask yourself: have I learned to cry? "
3. The third remedy is the compassion of friends. I come to mind the character of the friend of Renzo, in the famous book The Bride and groom, who is a large uninhabited house because of the plague is despite the great misfortunes that have shaken his family.
"They are horrible things; which I would never have believed I would see; things that take away joy for life; But talking to friends is a relief".
It's something you have to experience to believe. When you feel sad, you tend to see everything gray. On those occasions, it is very effective to open the soul with a friend. Sometimes a message or a short phone call is enough, and the panorama lights up again.
Leaning to the window of truth and beauty can liberate the soul from the ugly walls of the room of sadness
4. The fourth remedy against sadness is the contemplation of the truth.
It is the Veritatis glare that St. Augustine speaks of. To contemplate the splendor of the things, in nature or a work of art, to listen to music, to be surprised with the beauty of a landscape... It 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 theme of the adventure in Tolkien. It started like this: "To talk about beautiful things before interested people is for me a real consolation".
5. Sleeping and bathing.
The fifth remedy proposed by St. Thomas is that perhaps one could least expect from a medieval master. The theologian says that a fantastic remedy against sadness is sleeping and bathing. The effectiveness of the Council is obvious. It is deeply Christian to understand that to remedy a spiritual evil, corporal relief is sometimes necessary. Since God has become man and therefore has taken on a body, the material world has overcome the separation between matter and spirit.
A widespread prejudice is that the Christian view of man is based on the opposition between soul and body, and the latter would always be seen as a burden or obstacle to spiritual life. In reality, Christian humanism considers that the person (soul and body) is completely spiritualized when it seeks union with God.
Using words of Saint Paul, there is an animal body and a spiritual body, and we will not die, but we will be transformed because this perishable body must be seen of incorruptibility, that this mortal body is seen of immortality.
"No one considers it strange to take a doctor of the body as a guide to a spiritual illness", says Saint Thomas Moro, reaffirming the thought of his medieval namesake.
"The body and the soul are so closely united that together they form a single person, and so the uneasiness of one of the two sometimes generates the discomfort of both. Therefore, I would advise all that, in the face of any sickness of the body, they should be confessed, and seek a good spiritual physician for the health of the soul; I also advise that for some diseases of the soul, in addition to the spiritual doctor, seek the advice of the Doctor of the body".
Through these five remedies is made the divine and human promise of Jesus: "You will be sad, but your sadness is transformed into joy".