March 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 51

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat delves into the reasons people often embrace vice or give up: depression and that depression stems from not having total faith in God. It also evolves from making excuses in trying to rationalize a behavior that is adverse to the Will of God because they aren't willing to do all God expects as Pat points out in the Scriptural passage where the young man walked away from Our Lord because he wasn't willing to go that extra length and give up worldly possessions to follow Jesus. Too often worldly trappings do just that, trap us into a void that is devoid of hope. But there is always hope if we are willing to rise from the depths of depression and despair through the spiritual prescriptions offered by Christ and His Church. That is the gist of his column today, Why many wallow in the depths of depression and despair

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

Why many wallow in the depths of depression and despair

        France, May, 1940. Though they outnumber the Germans and their equipment is superior, in ten days, the French army is in disarray and full retreat. Paris falls. Why? They lost hope, they felt the Germans were unbeatable, they became depressed and gave up.

        In contrast, some four years later in the town of Bastogne, elements of the 101st Airborne, surrounded and hopelessly out gunned and outnumbered, replied to the German demand for surrender with the now famous phrase, "NUTS!"

        The difference is obvious for all to see. A sense of hopelessness, depression, and despair leads to a sort of death. Death of spirit, death of the soul. But hope can bring an almost illogical joy, a sense that, regardless of the odds, regardless of how it seems, life goes on and thrives.

        On October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII saw a vision of satan asking God for 100 years so that he might destroy the Church, destroy faith and hope, and drag the world into hell. Satan's greatest weapon, which he uses to open our defenses, is depression and despair.

        Consider why many people do the sins they do? Is it out of a real desire to sin? No, though I'm sure there are those who do. Chances are they've taken to embracing their sin in the false hope that it will give them fulfillment, satisfaction, escape.

        Consider this. A man and a woman marry. The man, depressed over the cost of things he perceives he needs (or really needs) begins to spend more and more time at work, and less time at home with his family. Maybe his wife, depressed, joins him, out of need, in getting a job to make ends meet. One or the other, or both, begin to feel that they are no longer loved by the other. Depressed, their actions and words begin to convey those feelings, until one, or the other, in despair, seek comfort in the arms of another. Upon being discovered, in despair, they divorce. Their children, seeing this, despair of ever finding that ideal marriage, that ideal partner. So they enter into a marriage haphazardly, almost expecting it to fail, setting themselves up for a self fulfilling prophecy. And so, through years of failed marriages, future marriages begin in despair rather than hope.

        The above contributes to children having sex with children. A sense of despair. Do their parents love them? So they seek this 'love' in the arms, or rather, bed, of another. Any love is welcome, even if it's an empty, selfish love. And if that 'love' comes from a member of their same gender, what of it.

        Consider what what Dr. Kinsey discovered in his studies in the RESULTS OF THE KINSEY SURVEYS ON REASONS FOR HOMOSEXUAL ORIENTATION:

    • Reasons Given for Orientation "Early homosexual experience with adults or peers" 22%
    • "Around homosexuals a lot, have a lot of homosexual friends" 16%
    • "Poor relationship with mother" 15%
    • "Poor relationship with father" 14%
    • "Unusual development (labeled sissy, tomboy, etc)." 15%
    • "Heterosexual partners unavailable" 12%
    • "Social ineptitude" 9%
    • "I was born that way" 9%
      (References. (1) A.P. Bell. "Homosexualities: Their Range and Character." Paper in . J.K. Cole and R. Dienstbier (editors). Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1973. (2) Paul Cameron. Lincoln, Nebraska: Institute for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (ISIS), 1984.)

        This is a recipe for depression. Being teased as a sissy or tomboy (reinforcing in their minds that they're gay), poor relationships with their parents, etc. In despair, depressed, they seek out love, maybe even suicide, or violence against those they feel are causing their depression.

        In the Army, I saw many of my friends become alcoholic or drug addicts due to depression. Sex was an escape. In all of these cases, and others, depression seems to be the catalyst for greater sins. If society, in a vain attempt to gloss over the root cause, tries to makes these 'escapes' acceptable, then the results aren't a healthier, happier world, but a world driven deeper into depression.

        Depression and despair drove Judas to commit suicide. Depression and despair drove the Hebrews to erect a golden calf to worship. Throughout history, we can see how depression and despair have brought mankind to do evil. In fact, we can see how despair and depression throughout the Scriptures drove a wedge between God and mankind. "And behold, one came up to Him, saying, 'Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?' And He said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.' He said to Him, 'Which?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' The young man said to Him, 'All these I have observed; what do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.' When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:16-22).

        When we surrender to depression and despair, we give up the fight, we forfeit the race. Life on this earth is a battle, that's why many call our lives a spiritual warfare, and we are called the Church Militant.

        But our faith isn't based on fear, or depression, but in faith and hope. "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

        Most parents are loving parents, but due to their imperfection, cannot adequately show it. Often times, the anxieties and cares of the world drown out the love that is there. Even if parents and others don't love us, there is always One Who does Who we should not dismiss so readily. "And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt'" (Mark 14:36) Christ didn't surrender to despair, but relied on His Heavenly Father, for the strength to continue with His mission. "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8: 15-17).

        "And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir" (Galatians 4:6-7). Abba, that is Dad. As it's been said, anyone can be a father, it takes someone special to be a Dad.

        St. Francis, speaking to Brother Leo speaks of perfect joy as not being able to convert sinners, speak with the tongues of angels and/or men, or even know all the mysteries of the universe. No, perfect joy was being able to accept all things, even abuse and hardship, as coming from God for our benefit. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

        In his Admonitions, St. Francis of Assisi speaks of Virtue and vice. In it he writes: "Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither cupidity or avarice." (Admonitions XXVII, Omnibus pg. 86) When we give in to depression, we may easily find our way into sin in a vain attempt to grasp at a false sense of happiness and fulfillment. But joy in the Lord, faith in Him, lifts us out of our depression, for we know that even if all the world hates us, God does. "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets" (Luke 6:22-23).

        "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows... And He said to His disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!'" (Luke 12:6-7;22-28).

        Despair and depression are not part of our faith, since we have a loving Father in Heaven. "If western man persists in seeking satisfaction through power, through money, through erotic excitement, through indulgence in drugs; all these different things they're doing to give their lives some point, they'll destroy themselves and their way of life. And that will be God's way of indicating that such a way of life is not viable." (Malcolm Muggeridge)

        Ours is a Spirit of life, not the escape of death. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would... Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:16-17;19-24).

        With marriages failing and marriage portrayed as only an ideal...with children killing children, and mothers killing their children...with the realities of the world making it difficult to live the Gospel message...and with the Church coming under attack from without and within - it's easy and understandable to feel the urge to feel depressed and despair. "I have said this to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

    Pax Christi, Pat


March 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 51

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