St. Thomas Aquinas: five remedies against sadness

On certain days we have all been sad, days when we have been unable to overcome an inner torpor or depression that weighs down on us and makes it difficult to interact with others.

Is there a trick for overcoming sorrow and recovering our smile? St. Thomas Aquinas suggests five remedies against sadness that have proven surprisingly effective (Summa Theologiae, I–II, q. 38).

1. The first remedy is granting ourselves something we like. It’s as though the famous theologian had already intuited seven centuries ago that “chocolate is an antidepressant.”

This might seem a bit materialistic, but no one would deny that a tough day can end well with a good beer. It’s hard to refute this by citing the Gospel, since our Lord took part joyfully in banquets and feasts, and both before and after his Resurrection enjoyed the noble and good things in life.

One of the Psalms even says that wine gladdens the human heart (although the Bible also clearly condemns getting drunk).

2. The second remedy is weeping. St. Thomas says “a hurtful thing hurts yet more if we keep it shut up, because the soul is more intent on it: whereas if it be allowed to escape, the soul’s intention is dispersed as it were on outward things, so that the inward sorrow is lessened” (I-II q. 38 a. 2).

Our melancholy gets worse if we have no way to give vent to our sorrow. Weeping is the soul’s way to release a sorrow that can become paralyzing. Jesus too wept.

And Pope Francis said that “certain truths in life can only be seen with eyes cleansed by tears. I invite each of you to ask yourself: Have I learned how to cry?” Continue reading

Source & Image

  • Aleteia, from a conference given by Carlo de Marchi.
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