“I sympathize with you in the inertia of mind in which you find yourself on account of the illness of your dear husband. Come, then, here is your cross… carry it well, you do not lack the skill, nor counsel, nor books, nor mind. God desires also that you should not lack courage.” –Bishop Camus to St. Louise de Marillac
Bishop Camus’s advice here is not just about St. Louise facing the cross of taking care of her husband. It is about her questioning herself regarding the situation she found herself. Louise de Marillac kept ruminating on her belief that the event was occurring because she did not go into a cloister in the first place, as she felt was her calling.
Inertia of mind is the inability to progress through a series of mental steps toward a goal. The mind is cloudy and unable to focus. This in turn fosters a feeling of incompetence and low self-regard. Short-term inertia can simply be a stress response but if it becomes chronic it can become a symptom of depression. For Louise, it became chronic.
Along with inertia of mind, St. Louise de Marillac also struggled with scruples (obsessive-compulsive over-thinking) and anxiety. According to Kathryn B. LaFleur, S.P. this “sensitive, anxious spirit would be with her for life,” meaning even after her mystical experience of the “Lumiere.”
We tend to be awed with the mystical experiences given to some Saints but we need to remember that mystical experiences do not make a person holy. Courage, perseverance, and humility when dealing with illnesses, problems, and temperaments do.
It is lent. Let us carry our emotional crosses with courage. We, like St. Louise de Marillac, have skill, books, resource to counsel, and hopefully the determination to do so.
St. Louise de Marillac’s feast day is this Sunday, March 15.
Source: Louise de Marillac, A Light in the Darkness by Kathryn B. LaFleur, S.P. New City Press, 1996, pp. 36, 39; Picture is free domain, author unknown, Wikimedia.
This post is an edited version of a prior post.