How Catholics can conquer depression

I read an article in the Catholic Herald about How Catholics can conquer depression. I thought a particular line from it may be relevant to readers, whether or not you suffer from it:

“While the sacraments alone were never meant to cure mental afflictions like depression, they can and do play a healing role in a plan of recovery. The principle of ‘sacramentality’ in Catholic theology, based on the central Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, affirms that the material world can mediate spiritual realities. As creatures of both body and soul, we relate to God through our senses. If I’m burdened by guilt or by sins of the past (often the case in depressed persons), when I go to Confession I’m able, in a very tangible way, to hear words of absolution from the priest who is acting in the name of Christ and the Church.

Many people who have gone to Confession describe this powerful experience of psychological healing. They are able to walk out knowing with total conviction that they have indeed been forgiven, that the burden they’ve been carrying has been lifted. The Catholic sacramental system is indeed consistent with our psychological make-up: we need to hear these words of absolution in order to more tangibly experience God’s mercy. We also know that sin not only harms our relationship with God but with others as well. In Confession there is the experience a sense of reintegration with a community: the priest represents the Church, the community of Christians, with whom the penitent is reconciled. All this is powerfully healing, and lifts a burden spiritually and psychologically.”

Especially an excerpt from the first sentence: “While the sacraments alone were never meant to cure mental afflictions…” This may help to explain why many Catholics turn to the Church exclusively in their quest to conquer their addictions, and fail. Although the Sacraments are of a healing nature, it may be that they are healing along with other factors that must be undertaken. The forgiving nature of Confession will help in healing guilt and pain; and Communion may help us become closer to God and assist us in uniting our sufferings to His. Although there are many examples of how people have experienced miraculous cure after receiving Holy Communion,they are the exception rather that the rule.

So, although the Sacraments are healing, they may just provide a much needed spiritual and divine dimension to whatever else one is doing to address addiction. They also aid in recovery be helping us to reintegrate into the community. Not only do we need to be healed of our past, but also our relationships with others.

And in case anyone complains, yes, I know that addiction and depression are not the same. The causes of one may not at all be related to the other. But it is an interest of mine, and I know that many alcoholics also suffer from depression.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

3 Comments

  1. Good post, Paul. My husband gave me a beautiful painted St. Dymphna medal that I wear during times, like right now, when I feel I need extra help with depression. (Hopefully my upcoming med-check will take care of the rest of it!)

    • I too suffer from depression and it has been so bad recently, also some health issues that have been on my mind and physical limitations that have just fueled my depression–I have no health insurance and really don’t feel that the antidepressants I had used for over 20 years and quit last October were successful–I just started some natural herbal treatments and my husband and I attended Retrouvaille April 5-7, 2013 and are now attending the post sessions each Saturday for 6 weeks–

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