As promised, let’s take a look at what St. Seraphim had to say about idleness and despondency.
Continuing in the same paragraph we read yesterday about acquiring peace St. Seraphim touches on despondency.
In the same way the Saint warned about struggles with despondency, “You should throw off despondency, and strive to have a joyful spirit, not a sorrowful one, in the words of Sirach. ‘Sorrow destroys much, and there is no use for it’ (30:25). This sickness,” the Saint said, “is healed by prayer, restraint from idle talk, handiwork as you are able, reading the Word of God and patience; because despondency arises from idleness.”
The story in the book continues with St. Seraphim meeting a fellow monk and advising him against despondency. He first prays and then…
...strongly and ecstatically, he said, “You must not sorrow, for Christ has conquered all, Adam is resurrected, Eve set free, death slain.”
Christ is Risen! It is our reason to not give in to sorrow, strongly and ecstatically we are told.
This paragraph is so full and rich, it overwhelms me. I need to collect my thoughts about it.
First take note, despondency arises from idleness! There are four things to do to ward off idleness and in turn despondency:
- Restraint from idle talk-Silence.
- Handiwork-keeping busy.
- Reading God’s word.
And if despondency and/or depression still grab hold…keep before yourself the reminder that Christ is Risen!
For me, reminders are essential. I need visual and physical reminders all around me.
I will leave you with one last thing, the entire passage of the Wisdom of Sirach that St. Seraphim mentions a part of. The section where the verse lies is titled “Gladness of Heart”… (vs. 21-24)
Do not give yourself over to sorrow and do not distress yourself deliberately. Gladness of the heart is the life of man and rejoicing by a man lengthens his life. Love your soul and comfort your heart and put sorrow far away from you. For sorrow has destroyed many, and there is no profit in it. Envy and anger will shorten your days and worry will bring premature old age.
In the commentary of the Orthodox Study Bible we read that Ben Sirach teaches us that sorrow does not simply sneak up on us and take over. Instead, we give ourselves over to it, or we can put it far away. How? By rejoicing.
Saint Seraphim would add, by prayer, silence, keeping busy and reading God’s word. And rejoicing in the Resurrection of Christ! Always!