People in service to others are often searching for better ways to help those they are called to serve. One priest who was in parish work decided not only to help others, but to find help for the demons that were bothering him. He decided to go to graduate school to study psychology of spirituality.
The priest would be in prayer and abruptly be overcome with depression. Other times crushed by feelings of overwhelming tension, the spiritual life was one big burden. Spiritual life should mean peace and joy; this was not the case for this priest. He was lost in the swamp of depression. He wanted out.
Problems of his parishioners were not all solved with prayer. What he picked up in the seminary was not sufficient to handle the many difficulties he encountered in himself and in others. He felt unprepared for the work and blamed himself for the failure.
In order to rid himself of his problems he did much searching, asked others for help, tried many recommendations, but did not find what he wanted. He was given many ambiguous words, equivocal methods, all to no avail. And was even blamed for not praying enough. He used repression to control his mind, and to endure even became a principle in his life. Depression and obsessions were overtaking him, and just before being overcome he began the study of spirituality.
In the study of psychology he realized that he was ignorant of things of the mind. He studied about God in the seminary, was familiar with matters of the body, but about the mind he was ignorant. He learned that if we treat the body recklessly, we invite disease, and if we treat the mind recklessly, we also have problems.
The priest wants other priests to join him in the study. The incidents of depression in our culture are very high. The Pope has mentioned we have to take an interest in these matters since problems are so wide spread. As Catholics it is not just a simple matter of more prayer, but having a trust in the goodness and love of God and trying to uncover the reasons for the way we feel, and make the very depression a means to grow out of being overcome by its power.