Mental Health: Is Wearing Our Heart on Our Sleeve Good for the Soul? 

Comment:

News commentators are enjoying dissecting the ITV documentary interview with Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, generally known as “Harry & Meghan”, in which they both speak very openly about the negative impact of their royal public life on their mental health. 

 The reaction from viewers has been mixed.  Given that they are able to travel the globe at taxpayers’ expense, and use the camera and thick column inches in newspapers to lecture us all not to do the same (in the interests of saving the planet), there has been lots of criticism along the lines of “hypocrites”. 

However, whether true or not, that’s not the purpose of this discussion. We can all be hypocrites on occasion.   Right now, we are much more interested in the growing custom within once “stiff upper lip” British society, of just about everyone – royal or not – wearing their hearts on their sleeves and claiming poor mental health at every turn.

The following point was made in conversation with a friend on the topic earlier today:  what, at one time, a Catholic would have offered up in silent prayer for the sake of his/her own soul, and the souls of others in spiritual danger, is now considered a matter for counselling and/or medication.  Stress, anxiety, depression, you name it, there seems to be an increased sensitivity, to the point of hyper-sensitivity in many, if not most people, for – more often than not – trivial/no good reason.  Lamentably, that includes Catholics.  Surely, Catholics should be living on a rather higher level – notwithstanding that there will be, of course, those with genuine, diagnosed, mental health illness.

Or is the above assessment a bit too hard? Harsh, even?

How often must I apologise? 70 times 7? 

  Every Christian knows that when Our Lord was asked how often we should forgive those who offend us, He replied “not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).  In other words, always. Never refuse to forgive. 

However, what about apologies?  Most people struggle to apologise for anything because it means admitting they were wrong about something, or insensitive, unkind to others.  Sadly, that seems to be the norm. Just don’t apologise! But what about those who DO apologise and find their apology either spurned or ignored… Some people prefer to “apologise in kind” – by, for example, offering a small gift, or by some means other than directly saying “sorry”.  Does that count as an apology? And what about those rejected or ignored apologies… should they be repeated indefinitely until reconciliation has taken place? 

We ought, in this thread, to reflect on the root cause of both the inability to forgive wrongs perpetrated against us, and – the other side of that coin – the inability to apologise for inflicting wrongs on others.  Is it true to argue that it is sinful pride which causes us to be unforgiving and unrepentant – or, at least, if not unrepentant, unwilling to admit to the person we’ve hurt that we know we are in the wrong?  Or is there some other reason for our inability or unwillingness to apologise – and do we have to apologise seventy times seven – or is once sufficient? 

The following quotes from saints about the sin of pride are offered to help kick-start the discussion – and feel free to add your own favourite quotes and sermons from the saints, since this thread is chiefly intended to help us move forward in our spiritual life, as we begin this new year.  Nobody stands still in the spiritual life, remember; we either go forward or back.

QUOTES FROM SAINTS…

You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud… The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.  Saint Vincent de Paul

A truly humble person never believes that he can be wronged in anything. Truly, we ought to be shamed to resent whatever is said or done against us; for it is the greatest shame in the world to see that our Creator bears so many insults from His creatures, and that we resent even a little word that is contradictory.  St. Teresa

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. Saint Augustine

Church Crisis/Duties of State: how do we make the best use of our time?

Editor writes…

Since the announcement that this blog will close permanently at the beginning of next summer, there has been some interesting discussion (on the

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” (Lord of the Rings)

Christmas thread) about the use of blogging as a means of apostolic action, a challenge, to those responsible for the crisis in the Church and a means of support for the faithful suffering as a result of the scandals. There is also the issue of carrying out our personal duties of state, and of pursuing our own spiritual well-being. How to make best use of the little time available to us, is, really, the issue at the heart of this debate.  Enter St Alphonsus Liguori!

St Aphonsus Liguori teaches… 

SERMON XXIV. THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER. – ON THE VALUE OF TIME “A little while, and now you shall not see me.” JOHN xvi. 16.

THERE is nothing shorter than time, but there is nothing more valuable. There is nothing shorter than time; because the past is no more, the future is uncertain, and the present is but a moment. This is what Jesus Christ meant when he said: “A little while, and now you shall not see me. ” We may say the same of our life, which, according to St. James is but a vapour, which is soon scattered for ever. ”For what is your life? It is a vapour which appeareth for a little while.” (James iv. 14.) But the time of this life is as precious as it is short; for, in every moment, if we spend it well, we can acquire treasures of merits for heaven; but, if we employ time badly, we may in each moment commit sin, and merit hell. I mean this day to show you how precious is every moment of the time which God gives us, not to lose it, and much less to commit sin, but to perform good works and to save our souls.


1. “Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee.” (Isa. xlix. 8.) St. Paul explains this passage, and says, that the acceptable time is the time in which God has determined to confer his favours upon us. He then adds: ”Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. vi. 2.) The Apostle exhorts us not to spend unprofitably the present time, which he calls the day of salvation; because, perhaps, after this day of salvation, there shall be no salvation for us. “The time,” says the same Apostle, “is short; it remaineth that they that weep be as though they wept not; that they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as if they used it not.” (1 Cor. vii. 29, 30, 31.) 

Since, then, the time which we have to remain on this earth is short, the Apostle tells those who weep, that they ought not to weep, because their sorrows shall soon pass away; and those who rejoice, not to fix their affections on their enjoyments, because they shall soon have an end. Hence he concludes, that we should use this world, not to enjoy its transitory goods, but to merit eternal life. 

2. ”Son,” says the Holy Ghost, ”observe the time.” (Eccl. iv. 2 3.) Son, learn to preserve time, which is the most precious and the greatest gift that God can bestow upon you. St. Bernardino of Sienna teaches that time is of as much value as God; because in every moment of time well spent the possession of God is merited. He adds that in every instant of this life a man may obtain the pardon of his sins, the grace of God, and the glory of Paradise. “Modico tempore potest homo lucrari gratiam et gloriam.” Hence St. Bonaventure says that “no loss is of greater moment than the loss of time.” (Ser. xxxvii. in Sept.) 

3. But, in another place, St. Bernardino says that, though there is nothing more precious than time, there is nothing less valuable in the estimation of men. ”Nil pretiosius tempore, nil vilius reputatur.” (Ser. ii. ad Schol.) You will see some persons spending four or five hours in play. If you ask them why they lose so much time, they answer: To amuse ourselves. Others remain half the day standing in the street, or looking out from a window. If you ask them what they are doing, they shall say in reply, that they are passing the time. And why says the same saint, do you lose this time? Why should you lose even a single hour, which the mercy of God gives you to weep for your sins, and to acquire the divine grace? “Donec hora pertranseat, quam tibi ad agendam pœnitentiam, ad acquirendam gratiam, miseratio conditoris indulserit.”

4. O time, despised by men during life, how much shall you be desired at the hour of death, and particularly in the other world! Time is a blessing which we enjoy only in this life; it is not enjoyed in the next; it is not found in heaven nor in hell. In hell, the damned exclaim with tears: “Oh! that an hour were given to us.” They would pay any price for an hour or for a minute, in which they might repair their eternal ruin. But this hour or minute they never shall have. In heaven there is no weeping; but, were the saints capable of sorrow, all their wailing should arise from the thought of having lost in this life the time in which they could have acquired greater glory, and from the conviction that this time shall never more be given to them. A deceased Benedictine nun appeared in glory to a certain person, and said that she was in heaven, and in the enjoyment of perfect happiness; but that, if she could desire anything, it would be to return to life, and to suffer affliction, in order to merit an increase of glory. And she added that, to acquire the glory which corresponded to a single Ave Maria, she would be content to suffer till the day of judgment the long and painful sickness which brought on her death. Hence, St. Francis Borgia was careful to employ every moment time for God. When others spoke of useless things; he conversed with God by holy affections; and so recollected was he that, when asked his opinion on the subject of conversation, he knew not what answer to make. Being corrected for this, he said: I am content to be considered stupid, rather than lose my time in vanities. 

5. Some of you will say: What evil am I doing ? Is it not, I ask, an evil to spend your time in plays, in conversations, and useless occupations, which are unprofitable to the soul? Does God give you this time to lose it? “Let not,” says the Holy Ghost, ”the part of a good gift overpass thee.” (Eccl. xiv. 14.) The work men of whom St. Matthew speaks did no evil; they only lost time by remaining idle in the streets. But they were rebuked by the father of the family, saying “Why stand you here all the day idle ?” (Matt. xx. 6.) On the day of judgment Jesus Christ shall demand an account, not only of every month and day that has been lost, but even of every idle word. ”Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgment.” (Matt. xii. 36.) He shall likewise demand an account of every moment of the time which you shall lose. According to St. Bernard, all time which is not spent for God is lost timeClick here to read St Alphonsus’ entire sermon On The Value of Time (scroll to p.98)

Comments invited…  

Retreats & Other Spiritual Adventures…

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A Catholic MP has revealed that a month’s retreat helped her in her decision to quit politics. Read more

It’s a very long time since I’ve been on retreat. What about you?

If you’d like to tell us about any retreat in which you’ve participated, we’d be most interested.

Similarly, if you would like to share other spiritual helps, prayers, poems, devotions, novenas, video lectures, whatever, you are welcome to do so on this thread.

I’ve made a point, as editor of Catholic Truth, of not taking it upon myself to lecture others in matters of the spiritual life – it would take all of 3 seconds, so no point !

We begin our conversation, therefore, with the clear understanding that the only “experts” are the great saints and mystics, such as Teresa of Avila, whose writings have helped souls down the centuries to deepen their relationship with God.

With a view to deepening our own relationship with God, then, let’s share the writings and other spiritual treasures which have helped us to date.

Click on the image to find The Way of Perfection – a classic of the spiritual life – available in various formats.