“Everyone says besides your physical illness, you are suffering from deep depression… My own soul, which once endured it for six weeks is in a position to feel compassion for those who experience it.” —St. Francis de Sales
Today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales. Among his other titles, he is known as the gentle counselor. It’s comforting to know that this great Saint experienced an episode of depression. More telling of his holiness however is the fact that he used the experience to further develop the virtue of compassion.
On a different note, St. Francis considered the most serious sin to be, not adultery or idolatry, but judging people and gossip. Think about that next time you think someone is “dysfunctional” or comes from a “deranged” family. We all know that people with mental conditions are master fakers but have we ever considered that they need to be? Others judge. People gossip. Stigma still reigns and it even turns family member against family member. Who has not heard the statement, “my crazy [insert mother, father, sister, or brother] used to clarify a line of separation between that family member and the person making the statement? It’s a way to avoid the judgment and gossip of others.
The Introduction to the Devout Life is St. Francis’s most famous work but he also left behind a great deal of correspondence after he died. My favorite collection is in a book titled: Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1988.
Here is a brief biography of this gentle counselor. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=51
Picture: retrieved online at Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.