Despondency – Introduction from Fr. Tryphon‘s blog from the monastery of All-Merciful Savior which is on Vashon Island, just off the coast of Washington, whose Blog you can visit here: https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2019/09/despondency-7
Fr. Tryphon (referenced above) in his morning offering, expressed very clearly his own personal struggles with despondency and how he found encouragement in the writings of St. Seraphim: “Like Saint Anthony the Great, I cry out to God, “where are You?”, all the while floating in a river of grace. I want to be a friend of God, yet often feel like the chick who has been pushed out of the nest by the mother eagle. Yet I am comforted by the counsel of Saint Seraphim, who instructed his spiritual children with the words…”
“When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: “What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head.”
How often I must feel despondency, but don’t recognize it until too late, when I am reflecting on it later in prayer. I know why, too. It’s mostly because I automatically find a way to distract myself from it, losing all the grace available through just feeling my inner emptiness and offering it to Christ. I think for hermits, it is the most trying of temptations. The noon day demon is what it was called by the desert fathers. They just had to learn to bare it. And in doing so, came to understand its value.
But in our day and age, we have so many available distractions that we turn to just so we Won’t have to feel that same emptiness that they felt. It wasn’t just for emptiness sake. That would not make much sense. But when the time for prayer came, the Psalms they prayed then ever more deeply reflected their interior state in ways that our reading of the psalms today without that intensity just never seem to.
I find there is a power in the Psalms if we allow them to penetrate us deeply. They are especially enriched when prayed during The Divine Office. But it takes a certain willingness and vulnerability to live that deeply in the Lord’s presence at all times, in order for them to have their most efficacious and transformative effect on our souls.
A Blessed Peace, THERESA+ – Hermit of the Holy Cross