Daily Thought For April 24, 2019

Overcoming Sadness

It is impossible to graft an oak limb onto a pear tree. The two trees are much too different. Neither can anger or despair be grafted onto love without extreme difficulty. Can sadness be compatible with holy love? Joy is ranked among the fruits of the Holy Spirit, listed immediately after love itself. And yet Paul writes, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Corinthians 7: 10). There is, then, a sorrow or sadness in harmony with the love of God. It belongs to penitent sinners, and it is a part of our compassion for others. 

There is also a sadness of this world. It is the result of fishing in troubled waters. There is a fish called the sea-devil that hides in the muddy water it stirs up around itself. It waits in ambush for its prey. When it spots a little fish swimming by it darts out and devours it. In the same way the devil makes his ambush in sadness. After troubling the soul with many sad thoughts stirred up here and there in the mind, he makes a charge upon the affections, weighting them down with distrust, jealousy, envy, too much worry about past sins, and a large number of wasteful, sour, and melancholy subtleties of the imagination. The soul abandons reason and rejects consolations. 

Sadness sometimes comes from one's natural disposition. 
There are melancholy souls. This is not vicious in itself, but our enemy makes great use of it to weave and set up a thousand temptations in our souls. As spiders prefer to spin their webs on cloudy days, this malign spirit finds it much more difficult to spread the nets of negative suggestions in sweet, kindly, and bright souls than in the gloomy and sad. These he easily disturbs with irritation, mistrust, hatred, grumbling, scorn, envy, idleness, and spiritual numbness. 

"Worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Corinthians 7: 10). Let's banish it, Theotimus. As much as possible, let's push it away with every contrasting attitude we can get together. Even if we are naturally disposed to be melancholy, we can still be gracious and kind. We can speak civil words gently. We may be excused for not being cheerful all the time. It is not possible to control this with an act of will, but there is no excuse for not being gracious, accommodating, and considerate of others. This is always within your grasp. 

from Living Love —A Modern Edition of Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales pp. 116-117

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