Orthodox Thought for the Day


Monday, July 22, 2013

The melancholic and the nun

From The Ascetic of Love, pp 335-336:

(Gerontissa Gavrilia)…What I believe, dear M., is that by reliving regrettable incidents of the past you cause much harm to yourself.  As the doctor said, your present illness is psychosomatic.  This is the way he said it, but I know from personal experience, that by going over such unpleasant events, you live through them again…Once in the days of my youth, I lived for a certain time near someone who suffered from melancholia.  He was sad and pensive all day long.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t make him overcome this condition.  It seems that God permitted it as a test.  Little by little, I started becoming like him. 

(Reply from M):  You?  Depressed?

(Gerontissa Gavrilia):  Yes.  When I was going out with my friends, I had nothing to tell them.  To whatever they said, I answered with a single word only:  “Yes,” “No.”  My friends kept asking, “What has happened?  Why this change?”  I was not aware of this change myself, but had the feeling that everything was in vain!  I had become a melancholic person, too; because this condition is very contagious.  Then one day I happened to be in new surroundings:  with a group of fellow-students and while normally my character was an open one, everyone remarked,  “What a shy girl!  So silent!  That’s curious!”  This condition lasted a long time.  It is said that melancholic persons emit sad vibrations just as cheerful persons send out waves of joy.  You must have noticed that the moment a joyful person comes in, without saying a word, just by walking in and out of the room cheerfully, he leaves something there, something like a trace…

(M):  …of freshness.

(Gerontissa Gavrilia):  Yes. Something like that…

(M):  Yes…After some time, however, I think it over and say to myself:  “Why should I fret to death?”

(Gerontissa Gavrilia):  …Well, it is not often that one meets a person who can say it so aptly as you just did!  You bring me back to the state I was in, before accepting that God is the Father of all of us and that He will take care of His children.  Otherwise, I too, would have been still a melancholic person.  I was so depressed at the time, that I felt it would perhaps be better to die rather than see what was going on in this world!  We may end up like that, you know.  This is why you should react at once.  I have been telling you, we should take all our sorrow and place it at the Feet of Christ.  Because He suffered on the Cross for our sins, and for our sorrows, and for our problems, and for all the gloom of our souls.  For everything!  And when you remember that the Blood of our Lord is cleaning us from everything, that’s the end of it!  Nothing of all these exists any more.  If you take the time to think on this thoroughly, then you will understand.  There are limits to what we can do.  We cannot give help to all…We cannot be physically present both here and there.  In spirit, of course, we can be everywhere…This is exactly why, dear M., you should convert your sensibility into prayer.  Something wonderful will happen then.  Because you could take in your heart all those in need of help and place them at the Feet of Christ Who was Crucified for you, for me, for all the world…This is why you have been confined to a sick bed:  to meditate on this and then go forth as a joyful person. 

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