Ignatius of Loyola: overcoming depression


By Hal Green

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was not only a priest, but also a soldier for Jesus Christ and his Church. Ignatius co-founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1540. He also authored the “Spiritual Exer­cises,” a set of prayers, meditations and simple exercises. He was not unfamiliar with the vulnerabilities of religious life, including depression and darkness. Depression has a spirituality as well as biology and psychology. In his prayer, facing darkness unafraid, Ignatius recognized and called upon the power of Jesus Christ to heal and strengthen body and soul. Truly, no one can heal the soul as well as the Lord and his love. In cleaving to Christ in spirit, Christ will dispel our darkness and doubts. Thus did Ignatius pray:

“O Christ Jesus,

Hal Green

when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things.”


When — not if — we go through periods of darkness, doubt and depression, this prayer addresses Christ with a simple plea for assistance. In a word, that is what Ignatius is praying for and that is really all we need to ask for — help. When help comes, all we really need to say to God is a two-word prayer. As long as it is heartfelt like the first prayer, simply say — thank you.

When God moves us through and out of depression, Ignatius offers us yet another prayer to bolster our passion for God and to solidify our purpose for living. It is a call to action:

“Dearest Lord,
teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward
save that of knowing I am doing Your Will.”

This second prayer always stirs in me greater strength and commitment to serve God. It is a prayer to memorize and recite daily, especially before facing any challenge or difficulty. Like putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), this prayer prepares us to do something for the Lord.

(Contact Hal Green, Ph.D., at drhalgreen@gmail.com.)

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on