SOMETIMES IT SEEMS as if a cloud is hanging over our heads — not a specific problem or threat to our well-being, but rather a general feeling of sadness and anxiety that overshadows our culture. Especially as people become more divided and isolated, such melancholy makes it harder to face problems, whether in our personal lives, the Church or society.
This kind of despondency, common in many developed countries, often accompanies a decline in religious practice. While I can’t cite a study to prove it, it seems more than coincidental that where belief in God and religious practice have waned, there is a corresponding rise in unhappiness and insecurity.
We live in an age in which many people reject a “given” nature to things, think that science has disproven the validity of religious faith and assert a radical right to self-determination. This worldview, however, is itself a source of anxiety. When faced with the idea of a godless universe and a finite horizon, we human beings instinctively feel as though we are trapped inside a box. We are made for more.
Even those who profess and practice the faith can be affected by this relativistic culture and succumb to a spiritual malady called “acedia” — a deep-seated state of interior sadness that results in spiritual and moral paralysis. It can turn the soul against all the means of healing and growth in virtue, and it can even lead to bitterness against God, the Church and those who carry forward its mission.
We might imagine that Knights of Columbus, other practicing Catholics and those who minister in the Church’s name are somehow immune to our culture and to acedia’s temptations. It would be foolish to think so. Even the first disciples needed the grace of the crucified and risen Lord to help them out of their spiritual despondency.
Demoralized by Jesus’ death, two disciples were making their way toward the village of Emmaus when the risen Lord joined them — though the disciples did not recognize him. As they walked along, Jesus not only invited them to share their sadness with him, but also helped them overcome it. For along the way, he opened the meaning of sacred Scripture, showing them how it pointed to his own death and resurrection. As a result, the disciples’ hearts burned with joy, a joy that overflowed when they sat at table with Jesus and recognized him “in the breaking of bread” — that is, in the Eucharist (cf. Lk 24:13-35).
We should not hesitate to share our burden of sadness with the risen Lord and invite him to walk with us.
We should not hesitate to share our burden of sadness with the risen Lord and invite him to walk with us. If we do so, he will open the saving message of Scripture, a message that leads us to the Eucharist, where we too can recognize Jesus “in the breaking of bread.” Indeed, Word and sacrament are the two great antidotes to spiritual sadness, and as we see in the Emmaus episode, they are deeply bound together.
When we listen humbly, prayerfully and persistently to the Word of God, the causes of our sadness are unearthed and revealed. Room — indeed, hunger — is created in our hearts for the presence of Jesus. How blessed we are that the Word of God which illuminates our heart “sacramentally takes flesh in the event of the Eucharist” (Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 55).
At the Last Supper, Jesus promised his disciples, “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you” (Jn 14:18). On Easter Sunday, he stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19).
If ever we are tempted to despair, let us ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open our hearts anew to the crucified and risen Lord. And as the Church solemnly celebrates the resurrection of Christ, his triumph over sin and death, may we recognize his saving, eucharistic presence and rejoice.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau