20140602 Go beyond emotions 掌控情緒

It is not uncommon to become anxious on one’s spiritual journey. St. Francis de Sales pointed out that anxiety is the soul’s greatest enemy; it is a source from which other temptations arise.
Sadness can be caused by external evils such as poverty and sickness or by internal evils such as ignorance, dryness, and temptation. If a person seeks to be delivered from sadness out of love of God, he will do so with patience, gentleness, humility, and calmness.
However, if a person seeks deliverance out of self-love, he will be eager and restless, and will act as if everything depended more on him than on God. If deliverance does not come speedily, he becomes impatient and disturbed, and a justifiable sadness turns into unreasonable anxiety.

Dangers of anxiety
If the heart is anxious within itself, St. Francis pointed out, “it loses the power to preserve those virtues which are already acquired, and also the means of resisting the temptations of Satan, who does not fail to fish in such troubled water.”
“Anxiety arises from an unregulated desire to be delivered from any pressing evil, or to obtain some hoped-for good. Nevertheless, nothing tends so greatly to aggravate evil or hinder good as over-eagerness and anxiety.”
“Whenever 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 gently after your object, taking all fitting means to attain thereto.”

‘In my hands’
“My soul is continually in my hands” (Ps 118:109). St. Francis recommended frequent self-examination to determine whether the soul is under control, or if it has been snatched away by some passion or anxiety, or has strayed in the pursuit of some ill-regulated emotion of love, hate, envy, lust, fear, vexation, or joy.
If our heart is not under control, we should gently lead it back into the presence of God; steadying our affections and desires under the guidance of God and in obedience to the holy will of God.
St. Francis wrote, “Do not allow any wishes to disturb your mind under the pretext of their being trifling and unimportant; for if they gain the day, greater and weightier matters will find your heart more accessible to disturbance.
“When you are conscious that you are growing anxious, commend yourself to God, and resolve steadfastly not to take any steps whatever to obtain the result you desire, until your disturbed state of mind is altogether quieted; unless indeed it should be necessary to do something without delay, in which case you must restrain the rush of inclination; moderating it, as far as possible, so as to act rather from reason than impulse.”

Overcoming sadness
The enemy of the soul seeks to make sinners take delight in sin but experience sadness in good deeds. St. James wrote, “Is any among you sad? Let him pray” (Jas 5:13).
St. Francis commented’ “Prayer is a sovereign remedy: it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only joy and consolation. But when you pray, let your words and affections, whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God.”
“Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily, and indifferently, do not give in.
“The enemy strives to make us languid in doing good by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off troubling us.”

靈修生活不會一帆風順,有時感到焦慮不安,實不足為奇。聖方濟.沙雷警戒我們,焦慮會是一種誘惑,甚至是眾多誘惑的開始。

 

貧窮、疾病,是使我們感到憂愁的外來惡敵;無知、枯燥和誘惑,是發自內在的惡敵,讓我們感到憂愁。假如從愛天主角度出發找尋釋懷,我們會變得有耐心、溫良、謙遜及冷靜。相反,如果我們為自保去設法解放自己,會忘記求助於天主,遂變得焦躁不安;短時間未能如願予償的話,更失去耐性、心頭忐忑。因此,原本是合理的憂愁,成為不合情理的焦慮。

 

焦慮的危險

 

聖方濟指出,焦慮是靈魂的大敵,因為內心被侵擾,「便喪失保守已修成德行的能力,也失去抵抗魔鬼誘惑的方法;而魔鬼卻又善於混水摸魚。」

「焦慮是由沒有節制的渴望而產生的,或是解脫凶惡的渴望,或是得到美善的渴望。但焦慮和過急正是最會加重凶惡和扼殺美善的東西。」

 

聖人指出:每當我們有急切渴望脫免凶惡,或達到美善,便要設法保持憩靜的心,以穩定自己的判斷力和意志,然後冷靜地、按步就班地緊隨目標,用合宜的方法,達到心中的理想。

 

「繫於我手」

 

「我把我靈續繫於我手」聖方濟建議我們要常自我檢討,是否還能保守著自己的靈魂,不被激情或焦慮蠶食,又或是否迷失於不正確的愛念、憎恨、嫉妒、色慾、惶恐、煩惱和不正當的歡愉。

 

一旦發覺心神異步,我們要作出調校,重歸天主的麾下,在天主的帶領下穩紮情感與渴求,一心只為承行天主的聖意。

 

聖方濟提醒我們要盡量避免在焦慮中作內心所渴望的事,要將自己交託給主,讓情緒安靜下來才做事。

 

克服憂愁

 

靈魂的敵人要使罪人從邪惡中得到歡愉,卻從善行中觸到憂愁。

 

雅各伯書有此勸告:「你們中間有受苦的嗎?他應該祈禱。(5:13)」聖方濟補充道:「祈禱是最佳良藥,把我們提升,直達那充滿喜樂與慰藉的天主。但祈禱時內外的情感與禱語,應全歸向愛慕和信賴天主。」

 

「努力對抗憂鬱。或者你確實感到冷漠乏味、意氣欄柵,但不要順從憂鬱。靈魂的敵人以憂愁使我們在善功上痠懶;不過,當牠見到我們不停止盡力工作,為了對抗牠而更熱切,牠便會知難而退。」

 

 

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