Healing The Scars That Evil Leaves

Nearly all avoidance of evil and all practice of virtue must begin in our thoughts. If we deliberately allow ourselves to think evil, we shall soon find ourselves speaking evil and doing evil.’ – Fr Eugene Boylan, ‘This Tremendous Lover’

The idea that we should avoid evil is firmly rooted in our soul. We have an innate sense that evil we expose ourselves to or evil we are exposed to can have a detrimental effect on our minds. Exposure to particularly traumatic or evil happenings can leave its scars. This innate sense that evil can really damage us is backed up by empirical evidence. In recent times, research in psychology has highlighted how early childhood trauma impacts on our mental health.  Research into psychiatric disorders is also highlighting how early childhood trauma, e.g. sexual abuse, has a strong relationship with hearing voices and seeing visions. With this research becoming more evident there has been a shift away from medical models that overemphasised the biological roots for psychological issues to one that recognises that the type of environment we grow up in and the evil that we are exposed to often leaves its scars.  This has resulted in more talk of ‘trauma informed care’, which is better than the dominant ‘diagnose and drug ‘em’ models. Yet, with credit given where credit is due, there really is nothing extraordinary in this shift of emphasis. A brief reflection on one’s own experiences and a short consideration of the lives of others will help us to see that traumatic experiences do often leave their scars in various ways. This understanding that exposure to evil has detrimental effects on one’s minds is also nothing new. It has been written about and more clearly explained long before psychiatry and psychology became professional disciplines. Let us look at some of this wisdom from the past.

It is better for us not to know low and vile things, because by them we are impeded in our knowledge of what is better and higher; for we cannot understand many things simultaneously; because the thought of evil sometimes perverts the will towards evil.St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, First Part, Treatise on the One God, Q. 22 (The Providence of God), Article 3, h (Reply to Objection 3)

Our minds tend to be corrupted by evil.  St Thomas, the Angelic Doctor of the Catholic Church, clearly understood this.  Rather than focusing on ‘better and higher’ things which purify and lift our minds, our minds can be poisoned when we focus on or know ‘low and vile things’. St. Thomas wrote in a time (the 13th century) where evil and immoral practices, e.g. homosexuality, murder, were far less prevalent and where most minds were kept free from knowledge of this vileness.  The time in which St. Thomas wrote is often referred to by modern secular historians as ‘The Dark Ages’ yet this period, especially the 13th century, was one of the most truly progressive and enlightening periods of history.  Minds were kept safe from the dark knowledge of low and vile things so they would not be impeded in knowledge of what is better and higher. These ‘dark ages’ helped minds such as those of St. Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure rise to higher levels of sanctity and philosophical insights than men have reached since. Our modern pagan times (or our ‘enlightened times’ as many believe) make it harder for one to keep focused on what is better and higher. This is because sin is so prevalent and is seen as ‘progressive’ by many, e.g. abortion as ‘health care’, LGBT ‘pride’. As we are often swamped in the filth of ‘low and vile things’, the mind struggles to reach to better and higher things.  Yet, if we want to maintain good mental health and, more importantly, avoid our will being perverted towards evil we must take St. Thomas’ advice and try not to know, or, at the very least, not focus on ‘low and vile things’. We must do what we can to keep our minds pure and our wills incorrupt in our current times and avoid exposing ourselves deliberately to evil. Focused efforts on purity and sanctity will only help in establishing one’s sanity while ‘holiness consists in hating and waging war against all that is evil and cleaving to that which is good.’ (Fr Auguste Saudreau, ‘The Ideal of the Fervent Soul’) This is what we must do for the health of our mind and soul.  What we expose ourselves to will have an impact on our thoughts and actions.  As St. Francis de Sales says, ‘let us have good thoughts: then we shall never have evil movements. Let us shun immodest company: then we shall not be provoked to lust.  To cure ourselves of our vices, it may be well to mortify the flesh, but above all we must purify our heart.’ (‘The Devout Life’)

But what happens when we are exposed to evil or have evil inflicted on us without our consent? Sometimes due to these experiences, e.g. sexual abuse as a child, people will find that they are more inclined towards evil and immoral practices, e.g. homosexuality, and will sadly give themselves over to it, doing so often with the encouragement of psychological professionals. Others will resist some evil inclinations but find themselves distracting themselves from the reality of their trauma in other ways, e.g. alcohol, drugs, gambling, binge eating, etc.  Others will find themselves able, by the grace of God, to face reality, understand themselves and their behaviour and find peace of soul amidst the crosses they have been given.  Still, others will find themselves in psychiatric services, diagnosed with a psychiatric condition such as personality disorder or schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, drugged up, and told that they have a biological condition which will be needed to be treated with psychiatric drugs for life. (This is a common experience for people and I have seen this for myself while working in psychiatric services where many people’s traumatic stories were missed due to an overfocus on supposed chemical imbalances).  There are many different paths people take when they are exposed to evil at a young and innocent age. Some decide to indulge more in the evil they have encountered while others try to understand and combat their perverse inclinations towards evil.  Many struggle to make sense of the hatred they have for the evil inflicted on them along with the hatred or guilt they feel towards themselves. All seek answers to help them to understand the disorder, angst and restlessness they identify in themselves. As our society becomes more and more disconnected from the truth and more and more people are exposed to evil, this sense of disorder is only increasing. So what is the solution? 

Far from seeking out that which is evil, Love dreads meeting with it’ – St Francis de Sales (‘The Devout Life’)

The first step is to identify what is evil and to avoid meeting it.  There is a terrible amount of confusion about evil in our world today. This confusion is not helped by leaders, e.g. the hierarchy in the Church, who have responsibility for helping souls to avoid evil, but who in some, if not many, cases, have helped to corrupt souls by exposing them to evil or confusing them about what constitutes evil. Due to how evil can be cloaked in the guise of virtue, we must be ‘wise as serpents’ in our endeavours to avoid meeting evil.  If we want to have peace of soul and liberty of spirit, we must focus on what is better and higher, not what is low and vile. We must love with is good and pure and dread meeting evil. This website and service endeavours to point out some of the most obvious examples of low and vile things, e.g. abortion, fornication, homosexuality.  It tries to point people towards better and higher things, e.g. the teachings and true representation of the Catholic Faith, virtue, sanctity.  While countless modern psychological theories compete for people’s attention and money, the fundamental principle for finding peace of soul, no matter how traumatic your life has been, remains the same, ‘Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it.’ (Psalm 33:15). We have a responsibility to figure out what exactly this means and what it entails (1).

Ultimately, the best approach for identifying and avoiding evil is a life of prayer. So, to end, let me share this prayer of Fr Martin Von Cochem, written in his classic book, ‘The Four Last Things’ that may give help to you in your endeavours:

‘O my God, grant me grace that on earth I may love the light and eschew the works of darkness, in order that I may attain to the contemplation of the eternal and perpetual light!

God bless


(1) If you want a more detailed philosophical outline of what evil fundamentally is you can check out St Thomas treatise on the distinction between good and evil here.

The Practical Common-Sense Doctor and ‘Life Coach’

‘Do not be impressed by the brilliant and clever sayings of human beings: the kingdom of God is not in speech, but in power (1 Cor 4:20).’ – ‘The Imitation of Christ’

                         In Western societies today we find many self-styled spiritual gurus and life coaches who claim to offer solutions to the difficulties of life. These people have many ‘brilliant and clever sayings.’ Despite not understanding what man is, many of them genuinely believe that their guidance and advice is wise and helpful.  They are not afraid to take on the roles of life coach and role models for others. Market conditions are favourable to their business plans. The kingdom of God is being forgotten about by human beings so society is becoming more and more disordered. People are desperate for answers. In addition, the advice life coaches offer is often much better and grounded more in common sense than the publicly funded, regulated and ‘professional’ psychological advice and guidance offered by trained psychological professionals. Add a bit of personal charisma, an ability to make rousing motivational speeches, and a solid marketing campaign and you can see why many people make a lucrative career from coaching people and why many people are flocking to them. 

                            But what did people in the West do before these life coaches and gurus became so popular and prevalent? How did people get the answers they needed to the difficult questions in life? How did people know what to aim for and, once identified, how did they know how to go about achieving their goal? Many of the blogs I have written on this website have provided some answers to these questions. This blog highlights one particular spiritual guide whose wisdom and common sense approach far surpassed anything offered by the countless gurus we come across today. This guide is the holy bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales, whose writings still continue to ‘coach’ those who strive for self improvement.    

                           ‘Few would deny, however unsatisfactory their own lives, that to be a saint is the supreme expression of human life on earth.’ – Introduction, ‘Francois de Sales’ – Michael de le Bedoyere

                           Seeing someone live the advice they give helps us to take their advice seriously. If the fruits of the advice are good, we can have even more confidence in it. This is most certainly the case with St. Francis de Sales who lived a holy and devout life while encouraging others, through his example and words, to live this type of life as well. He was known for being a gentle, patient and humble soul who radiated charity.  In his life, he converted thousands of people to the Catholic Faith and he was renowned as a great shepherd for the flock under his care. In addition to this, he also left us some remarkable writings including his masterpieces, ‘Treatise on the Love of God’ and ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’. ‘Treatise on the Love of God’ is a theological study/outline of the love of God and about why charity/love of God is essential if one wants to attain perfection. ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ is a practical guide for those navigating through the various difficulties that life brings.  The latter was a bestseller of 1608 and it continues to guide souls who desire perfection. 

                            Inspired by another classic spiritual guide, ‘The Spiritual Combat’ by Fr Lorenzo Scupoli, St. Francis, in the ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’, provides practical guidance to those who aspire to live a virtuous and holy life. St. Francis’ writings are inspired by love of God and his own deep love of virtue. He had a deep understanding of charity both intellectually and practically. He knew that man was designed to live a virtuous life and that living this type of life brought its own beautiful fruits: ‘It is virtue which makes the inner and outer man into something beautiful. It makes him wonderfully pleasing to God. It suits man extremely well, because it is man’s proper state.  How much consolation, delight, true pleasure it always brings him. Christian virtue sanctifies him, turns him into an angel, makes him a little god, takes him into heaven, even on earth.’ (Quote from St. Francis from ‘Francois de Sales’ – Michael de le Bedoyere). St. Francis desired that man be all that he should and can be and ‘The Introduction to the Devout Life‘ is written with this intention in mind.

                            ‘The Introduction to the Devout Life’ stands as a giant over any of the modern self-help gurus and popular psychology books that are taking up more and more of the media, libraries and bookstores.  Unlike, modern psychological theories that are based on false and distorted theories about man, St Francis offers common sense advice and practical guidance based on true understandings of what man is and what the purpose of man’s existence is. While thousands of people flock to the latest motivational talk by the likes of Tony Robbins and waste their money buying the latest ‘actualise yourself’ book by Deepak Chopra, St. Francis de Sales, through his humble endeavours, has left us his writings to truly help people transform their lives if they put the wisdom he imparts into practice. 

St Francis is gentle, clear and firm in his advice and ‘The Introduction to the Devout Life’ is full of beautiful vivid metaphors to describe the realities of life. It recognises man’s true calling and it is written to help man be ‘wonderfully pleasing to God’. The bar is high as this is the reality of life. Yet, St. Francis’ writings are grounded in common sense and pertinent advice on how to avoid the various snares that can divert us on the way to perfection. Here are such some example of the pearls of wisdom St. Francis has to offer:

On reputation: ‘Whoever desires to be esteemed by everyone has the esteem of no one, and whoever seeks to obtain it from unworthy people deserves to lose it.’

On how to converse: ‘To speak little’ – so highly recommended by wise men – does not consist in uttering few words, but in not speaking useless words. It is not their quantity but their quality that counts.’

On the ridicule one receives from the world for aspiring to Christian perfection: ‘The world considers us fools, let us consider it mad.’

On anxiety: ‘Birds that are captured in nets and snares become inextricably entangled therein, because they flutter and struggle so much. Therefore, whensoever you urgently desire to be delivered from any evil, or to attain some good thing, strive above all else to keep a calm, restful spirit,—steady your judgment and will, and then go quietly and easily after your object, taking all fitting means to attain thereto. By easily I do not mean carelessly, but without eagerness, disquietude or anxiety; otherwise, so far from bringing about what you wish, you will hinder it, and add more and more to your perplexities.’

Not accepting sadness as the normal state of your soul: ‘The Evil One delights in sadness and melancholy, because they are his own characteristics. He will be in sadness and sorrow through all Eternity, and he would fain have all others the same.’

Advice on overcoming depression:

  • Keep occupied: ‘It is well also to occupy yourself in external works, and that with as much variety as may lead us to divert the mind from the subject which oppresses it, and to cheer and kindle it, for depression generally makes us dry and cold’
  • Talk to a wise counsellor: ‘Lay bare all the feelings, thoughts and longings which are the result of your depression to your confessor or director, in all humility and faithfulness.’
  • Visit good friends: ‘Seek the society of spiritually minded people, and frequent such as far as possible while you are suffering.’

On the causes of spiritual dryness: ‘Those rich with worldly pleasures are unable to enjoy spiritual ones.’

On the need to examine one’s conscience if going through these dry periods: ‘An illness is already half cured when the cause is known.’

On honouring God/doing your duty through hard times: ‘There is no great merit in serving one’s prince in peace and in the midst of courtly delights; true merit, and proof of a true fidelity, lie in serving him during war, trouble and persecutions.’

                          These are just some of the gems of advice that this great saint has to offer. In our modern times, people are desperate for solutions to the psychological issues they are experiencing.  There are all sorts of psychological professionals and professional bodies trying to direct and guide people. Added to this, there are all sorts of people posing as wise men trying to give people answers to their various anxieties and sorrows.  Yet, it is a humble and gentle Catholic bishop who lived in the 17th century and his 400-year-old book that offers us one of the best practical guides to true happiness and freedom.

So, let us stop looking for answers to our psychological issues where they will not be found. Let us return to the guidance left with us by those men who have come before us were truly wise. If we are struggling with life issues, rather than turn to those who will only confuse our minds even more, we can easily turn to St Francis de Sales and allow him to gently guide us over the various hurdles we encounter. We can let him be our ‘life coach’ and allow him to help us on our journey to Him who is Life Itself.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.

God bless

Note: There is a free online version of ‘The Introduction to the Devout Life’ here: https://www.catholicspiritualdirection.org/devoutlife.pdf and TAN Books provide an excellent version of it here: https://www.tanbooks.com/introduction-to-the-devout-life-4573.html

A Light on Sorrow/Understanding Sadness

Sorrow that is in congruity with reason is morally good’ – Fr Ripperger, ‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’

At moments in our lives sorrow and sadness can hit us hard.  Things seem pretty black. We feel like we can not go on and our zeal for life is completely drained from us.  This usually lasts a short time and as time passes, we get back to a place where colour comes back into life and we are able to face the battle again.  At times, sorrow is a perfectly natural and reasonable response to events or situations in our life, e.g. bereavement, relationship difficulties. It is indication that we have lost or are potentially losing someone or something in our life that we love, cherish or take delight in.  As long as these attachments to creatures and things are not inordinate and do not detract from or replace love of God, then this sorrow is reasonable.  This is shown by the fact that while some painful and poignant memories may remain and come into our mind from time to time, feelings of sorrow do not cripple us or lead us to neglect our spiritual and temporal duties.  Sorrow is a natural result of losing or potentially losing those things and people that we love, i.e. things and people we believe to be good or who we believe to be important for our ultimate happiness.  

The spouse of Christ who longs to become perfect must begin with her own self.  She must put aside, forget everything else, and enter into the secrecy of her own heart.  When she has done this, let her sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins.  She must weigh everything carefully, and make a thorough examination of past and present.  Should she discover even the least imperfection, let her weep in the bitterness of her heart.’ – St Bonaventure, ‘Holiness of Life’

Sorrow can also stem from us damaging or severing our relationship with God who is the ultimate good.  After having engaged in a sinful/immoral/unnatural act, sorrow, in the form of guilt, can come to the surface. This is particularly true of those with more sensitive consciences, i.e. those who have not numbed their consciences by persistent immoral lifestyles.  The sorrow that rises as a result of transgressing the natural and divine law is a wonderful gift as it can indicate to us that we are going astray and losing our connection with the ultimate source of goodness. ‘If one does not have sorrow, one’s intellect is not conforming to the truth and the will is not following right order, which is to sorrow for evil done.  In effect, by not sorrowing for one’s sin, one is not in contact with reality. Sin itself is a denial of reality or a stepping away from reality by the intellect and will, since one chooses something under the aspect of the good when, in reality, it is evil and harmful to oneself.’ – Fr Ripperger (‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’).  Feelings of sorrow can give us reason to stop, think and reflect about the road we are on.  It can help lead us back to God and the path to true happiness. It can call us to Christian perfection. 

Now, one must be careful to apply reason when examining why one is feeling sorrowful as unreasonable sorrow can be a way of dragging oneself further from God rather than lifting one back towards Him.  This can result in scrupulosity, despair and anxiety.  This is particularly dangerous amongst those individuals who have a melancholic temperament.  As people with this temperament tend to feel deeply, be very analytical and lean towards a pessimistic outlook on life, sorrow can have a particularly disabling effect on them.  However, sorrow, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing and, if it helps to guide us back to the truth then it is positive.  This is where people with a melancholic temperament are really beneficial to society as, oftentimes, they are the first to point out the reality of a truely terrible or dangerous situation – they can be likened to the solider on the lookout post letting his squadron know about the incoming enemy or the canary in the mine whose behaviour alerts miners of the danger of a gas leak before they are even aware of it themselves.  So, without glorifying sorrow and taking note of its dangers and entrapments, we can note that sorrow has its benefits when it leads us to the truth.  We can also note that those with a melancholic temperament can play a useful role in families, communities and society when they highlight the real dangers before anyone else. 

Modern day solutions to sorrow:

Sorrow has its function and its place, as noted above. However, it usually has more negative than positive or useful effects as St Francis de Sales points out (see note and link below).  Therefore, it is natural that society tries to find ways of treating and managing sorrow. There are all sorts of solutions proposed for treating the sorrow and sadness people experience today. Some of these are reasonable and can be beneficial, e.g. talking with a virtuous friend, distracting oneself briefly from one’s care with exercise/music/entertainment, changing one’s diet, finding a new job, developing a routine.  There is nothing wrong with these approaches*. At times, we might even need chemical help to settle our nerves and relax, e.g. a certain medication for a short period of time or a glass of wine/beer to take the edge off.  These approaches, however, should not be used excessively and they most definitely should not be used to distract or take us away from spiritual solutions. 

Men and women are not cured of all sorrow, of interior disappointment and the perverse will by legislation and classes and physical and social well-being. Othello may be a prince, but he is subject to jealousy and mad fits, and the longing of Psyche is not contented with mortal love.’ Fr M C D’Arcy, ‘Mirage and Truth’

In our current times where the majority of people, especially psychological professionals, have a misunderstanding of what a human being is and how the mind operates, the role of one’s conscience in sorrow is dismissed or there are attempts to explain it in more ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’ ways.  For example, instead of psychologists seeing how offensive abortion is to God, how killing one’s baby goes against the natural instincts of a mother to protect her young, and acknowledging the severe impact this has on women’s psychological health, the Psychological Society of Ireland explains away the guilt or sorrow a mother experiences post-abortion as societal judgement and lack of acceptance of abortion, i.e. society has made women who kill their babies feel guilty or sorrowful rather than this being an inevitable consequence of an unnatural and barbaric act.  This approach causes untold damage to women and society in general.  As Fr D’Arcy notes above, no amount of change in legislation or modern sociological theories about well-being will cure the guilt these women experience as they are missing what they truly need for healing . The sorrow these women experience is an opportunity to reconcile themselves with God but instead our modern services encourage women to carry on in their destructive path.  Out of ignorance or out of fear of hurting feelings the truth is passed over.  This is a disastrous result as Bishop Fulton Sheen notes, ‘If there is anything morbid in the sinner’s responsible admission of a violent relationship with Divine Love, this is a jovial sanity compared with the real and terrible morbidity which comes to those who are sick and who refuse to admit their illness.’ (‘Peace of Soul’)

Another modern-day approach that is very popular today is the numbing of emotions.  This can be achieved through alcohol or drugs, particularly prescription drugs.  Now, as I said above, there may be times when biological or chemical interventions may be necessary to ‘take the edge off’ but if used, they should be used very carefully and prudently. (This is particularly true of prescription drugs today and I would recommend doing some research such as checking out the website, www.rxisk.org, or listening to talks by Prof Peter Gotzsche before deciding on whether psychotropic drugs are a good option for you). The virtue of prudence when making decisions about psychological remedies is essential today as those in power have drifted further and further away from an accurate understanding of human beings and the meaning of life.  While God and the remedies He offers for souls in distress are kicked out, e.g. Confession and penance, the devil and his minions offer their ‘compassionate’ and ‘progressive’ solutions to replace what they lambast as the ‘unscientific’ and ‘superstitious’ remedies of God.  These ‘advanced’ solutions are marketed very cunningly and deceitfully by pharmaceutical companies who are driven by profits and have become slaves to Mammon having failed to heed the warnings of St Paul, ‘For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.’ (1 Tim 6:10).  These pharmacological solutions are then pushed on people in distress by medical professionals, who are, most likely, duped by the propaganda as well.  Most of these psychotropic drugs cause emotional numbing, are incredibly addictive, some cause brain shrinkage and the scientific evidence shows that they increase psychological issues (Note: I have also spoken about this in recent talks here and I have shown scientific evidence for the psychological benefits of Catholicism here).  Numbing emotions, creating dependency on drugs and shrinking people’s brains are not solutions to sorrow yet this is what is being cleverly and deceitfully offered, in the guise of science, to people today. 

Now I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful; but because you were made sorrowful unto penance. For you were made sorrowful according to God, that you might suffer damage by us in nothing. For the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.’ (2 Cor 7: 9-10)

Now, it is clear that people are struggling with sorrow in our world today. People are looking for solutions, but today’s modern approaches are part of the problem not the solution.  These approaches are built on ‘the sorrow of the world’ and its false understandings of man and not on ‘the sorrow that is according to God’.  Instead of taking the risk of being deceived, drugged up or duped by modern psychological services today, let us go back to some salutary advice from the likes of St Francis de Sales.  It is far more beneficial to our sanity and, more importantly, our salvation, to listen to the wise advice of the saints, such as St Paul and St Francis de Sales, who recognised the reality of life, rather than listening to anything you will find in modern psychological or sociological ramblings that promise a smooth path to the Garden of Eden by trying to bypass and forget about the Hill of Calvary.

It is strange that many who call themselves followers of Christ are so unwilling to walk after the manner of His life and take His yoke upon them.  They are scandalised by suffering and invent alternative theories of Christianity to that which their Founder taught again and again.  They seem to be rationalising and not reasoning, to be converting what is a natural fear of the hard into a denial of its place in the Christian dispensation; and the result is that they see nettles everywhere and hate the rose because of the thorn.’ – Fr M C D’Arcy ‘Mirage and Truth

Human beings are complex, life is hard and there are many things that can trigger sorrow, but to try to take God and spiritual causes out of consideration only leads to absolute disaster. One needs to get back to common sense, (accurate) science and the Catholic Faith if one is going to figure out how to traverse this valley of tears and get back on the straight and narrow path. The truth, no matter how unpalatable it may initially seem, is necessary for a happy life and eternal happiness.  One may be tempted to reject the rose because of the thorns.  But once the rose is accepted and the truth is assented to, it is then charity and the love of Truth Himself that lifts and transforms hearts, minds and souls as Abbot Jean-Baptiste Chautard explains in his brilliant book, ‘The Soul of the Apostolate’, ‘Only a burning and unchangeable love is capable of filling a whole life with sunlight, for it is love that possesses the secret of gladdening the heart even in the midst of great sorrows and crushing fatigue.’ We must humble ourselves and check that we have a firm grasp of the truth.  We must not run from the truth but face it bravely.  We must then check our own hearts, see what resides there and pray for and cultivate the love of God/Truth in it so we can overcome the sorrows, which will inevitably come our way, and continue on the road to true happiness.  


Note: Here is a link to St Francis de Sales’ classic book, ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ – https://ccel.org/ccel/desales/devout_life/devout_life. He dedicates chapter 12 to ‘Sorrow/Spiritual Sadness’ and chapter 13 explains ‘The Role of Feelings in the Spiritual Life’.  I would highly recommend this and, especially, these two chapters to anyone or anyone you know experiencing sorrow.

* As long as these activities are not an occasion of sin, e.g. certain types of music, exercise and entertainment.