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Receiving the Pope: “Beware of the sadness that eats up the heart and does not see hope.”

Receiving the Pope: “Beware of the sadness that eats up the heart and does not see hope.”

In Wednesday's general audience, Pope Francis continued his teaching of the faith on vices and virtues, and this morning reflected on what he called the “sickness of the soul” that can creep up on a person and overwhelm him to the point of destruction: sadness. . This “creeping devil” must be fought by thinking of Jesus who “gives us the joy of the Resurrection.”

Charlotta Smedes – Vatican City

Sadness, meaning “psychological depression, the constant suffering that prevents a person from feeling joy,” was the topic to which Pope Francis devoted today’s teaching in his ongoing series on vices and virtues. About 5,500 believers and pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Reception Hall.

“How long will my thoughts be crushed and my heart troubled day after day? I have trusted in your goodness, and my heart will rejoice in your help. And I will sing to the glory of the Lord, because he has reconciled me.” (From Psalm 13, 2-3, 6)”

Good sadness and bad sadness

He began by saying that one must immediately distinguish between two different types of sadness: that which is part of the Christian's conversion journey and which God's grace transforms into joy, and that which “creeps into the soul and puts it in a state of demolition.” “It is this sadness that must be fought,” the Pope says.

So there is good grief that leads us to salvation. Like the sorrow of the prodigal son in the parable: when he reaches the bottom and feels very bitter, he is forced to come to his senses and decides to return to his father’s house. It is a blessing to mourn our sins, to remember the state of grace from which we have fallen, and to cry because we have lost the purity of God's dream for us.

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The second type of sadness is “mental illness.” The Pope explains that it is linked to the experience of loss that arises in the heart when the desire, dream or hope disappears. Pope Francis cites the incident of the two disciples at Emmaus as they walked toward Jerusalem “with a disappointed heart,” noting:

When this happens, it is as if a person's heart is falling off a cliff, and the feelings he or she feels are frustration, sadness, depression, or anxiety. We all go through experiences that create sadness in us. Life leads us to dream dreams that then collapse. In this case, a person, after a period of chaos, relies on hope; But others wallow in depression and let it lead their hearts to gangrene.

Beware of sadness that leads to selfishness

Francesco defines this kind of sadness as “the pleasure of not liking,” it is “to be happy that this did not happen, it is like eating a bitter, bitter, disgusting sweet without sugar, and sucking on it.” He gave some examples: “a certain prolonged sadness,” he notes, as well as “a certain impatient bitterness” that leads a person to constantly live in a state of mind of revenge or victimhood, a state of mind that does not constitute a healthy life, let alone a state of mind. One Christian. He warned that sadness becomes a normal feeling and becomes something evil. “It is a malicious demon, grief,” he notes in conclusion:

We must pay attention to this sadness and believe that Jesus gives us the joy of the Resurrection. But what should I do when I feel sad? Stop and consider: Is this good grief? Is it bad grief?

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Then respond according to the nature of the grief. Don't forget that sadness can be a very bad thing, leading to pessimism and selfishness, and difficult to treat.