Moving Beyond the Swamp of Despondency
Depression is one of the plagues of the modern age, overtaking many with it’s insidious poison, and ravaging many a life. The pain and suffering that comes with deep depression can infect those who surround the sufferer, for the depression of one person can spread like mold on stale bread. Psychiatrists are kept busy writing prescriptions, and drug companies rake in the money manufacturing the “cure”. Families are destroyed, marriages come apart, and young people drop out of school, all because of depression. Although there are certainly cases where depression can be caused by imbalances in the chemical makeup of the body, it is far more common for depression to be the result of the sickness of the soul. The cure, in this case, is to be found in the life of the Church. Giving oneself over to the pursuit of God, and increasing the time we spend in prayer and worship, can gradually transform depression and turn it into joy.
Saint John Cassian wrote: “But first we must struggle with the demon of dejection who casts the soul into despair. We must drive him from our heart. It was this demon that did not allow Cain to repent after he had killed his brother, or Judas after he had betrayed his Master”.
The upcoming Great Lenten Fast is the perfect time to confront the spirit of depression, for the increased attendance in the Church’s divine services, and the time spent in private prayer, contribute to the healing of the soul. Taking our minds off our problems, and turning our hearts towards the things of God, quicken the healing so desired by those struggling with depression. Our spiritual reading, frequent confession, and the reception of the Holy Mysteries, all come together to bring about the healing our soul longs for.
Psalm 39/40: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and He heeded me; And He heard my supplication. And brought me up out of a miserable pit, And from north clay; And He established my feet on a rock, And kept straight my steps. He put a new song in my mouth, A hymn to our God; Many will see and be afraid, And shall hope in the Lord. Blessed is the man whose hope is in the name of the Lord, And did not look into vanities and false frenzies. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you performed, And in your thoughts there is no one who shall be likened to you…”
With love in Christ,
About the author
Fr. Tryphon is the Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Saviour, which was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.