Is not everyone's spiritual life exposed, at times, to the incursions of the 'demons' of discouragement and pusillanimity? It may come upon us with the onslaught of temptations which are hard to bear and difficult to shake off. And we witness so many tragedies, of individuals or entire societies - we live in a period in which the world has been covered by dark clouds.
Nevertheless, we must carry on bravely, with steady courage, undismayed by trials, sadness, or fear. We owe this to ourselves, to our families, to our priests, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to all of humanity. By our example and support, perhaps we can help those who are in need of an uplifting or steadying influence.
How are we to combat effectively the danger of moral depression?
We must combat its cause, which Pope Pius XII said, in 1940, is the weakening of faith, hope, and charity. If these theological virtues are strong in us, our whole attitude will be one of great moral strength and courage, and nothing, then, would prevent us from mission and obligation as “good soldiers of Christ” (bonus miles Christi).
But for this to happen, it is necessary that the theological virtues enter into our lives. Who of us still recites those prayers – the acts of faith, hope and charity? Are these prayers even known by Catholics anymore? Perhaps, those prayers would be a good place to start - for everyone. These prayers will provide us with a firm foundation so that we can properly ask God to increase these virtues in us. And, being strengthened in these virtues, we must then live our faith, our hope, our charity.
Our FAITH must always remind us of God's supreme dominion over the world: nothing happens but what God wills or permits; He is "our Father in heaven, and we are the children of His love; His designs upon us are always designs of mercy and love, even when we do not understand them; all of the trials and sufferings in our lives are meant ultimately for our greater good as well as God's greater glory. What strength and courage these thoughts will give if we remember them when we are tempted to lose heart. Do we live in this spirit? Can we, by God's grace work toward perfecting this virtue?
Unwavering HOPE and confidence must keep our hearts on high, superior to all of the hardships and troubles of life. If we live in the remembrance of the eternal reward which is the final, assured goal of all of our efforts, and in the conviction that God's grace is always with us, equal to every task or obligation that we must face, then we shall never be unready or ill-equipped for trials or difficulties.
We should be ready to raise ourselves to these supernatural thoughts in the actual trials of daily life lest we begin to hesitate in trusting God completely and thereby falter in our confidence.
Chief of all, it is CHARITY, love of God, that provides unconquerable strength and lead us to be magnanimous, to bear trouble calmly, and display a noble generosity.
It is love which takes away the sting of trials and adversities, because it makes us embrace whole-heartedly every manifestation of God's holy will; it establishes us in the peace and serenity of complete self-abandonment; it makes us rejoice in the Cross, because love, by its very nature, seeks to suffer for the beloved.
Does divine charity have practical and logical effects in us? Is our attitude in life always an echo of our prayer, "Fiat voluntas tua sicut in coelo et in terra" (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven)?
Does our love of God strengthen us for every trial as it did Christ for his Passion?
Do we seek to enkindle that love "in the flames springing from the Sacred Heart"?
Reflect with special care those Psalms which express faith, trust, and delight in God, such as Ps. 26, "Dominus lux mea et salus mea: quem timebo?" (The Lord is my light and salvation, Whom shall I fear?)
Adapted from "Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests" by F.X.L'Hoir, S.J.