“… depression is defined as “a state of diminished vitality”, that is liveliness. The depressed has less life than she feels the need for; with that she experiences her very self as inadequate and unlovable. For the human person the sense of being alive is a function of the sense of the self. All human consciousness takes place against this awareness of an “I”, of what has been called “the true self’, “the real me”. This sense is not sharply defined so as to stand out with distinctly marked borders from the surrounding relations into which we have been inserted by birth into the world. It is more distinct in some of us than in others, but in all humans it blends at the borders with the surround world and with significant persons….

On the other hand, the same “I” is not always what it is believed to be; it does not always measure up; even is felt as not good enough, suspected of not being worthwhile. It is even felt as defective, lacking in attractiveness. Nobody who really knows me intimately, as 1 really am when off guard would hold me in regard or even like me, much less be lovingly devoted to me. I am not in point of fact what I should be, much less what I could be. Thus we are forced in varying degrees in different situations and with various persons, to present ourselves in a certain role. With some we feel immediately quite vulnerable, unable to be our self, to allow our real qualities to come to the surface; we even feel they grow pale, feeble, and even repellant. We have learned by unpleasant experience to put a certain face on while dealing with most people.

The great challenge addressed to each of us is to find the source of strength needed to free this intimate self from the bonds in which it is held by attachment to certain external realities and by the behavior and opinion of others. This is the great work of the ascetic and spiritual life.  As it is undertaken at first progress is paradoxical in that as we find more resources within we are able to encounter tendencies present all along and actively influencing us but unconscious. Some of these are in conflict with the idea we had formed of our self as with the ideal we set for our self. As we persevere in this work of confronting the inner world we become aware after a time of the great mystery of the self that we are and the important issue is expressed in the question: “Who Am I?”

May you rest in peace with God, Abba John Eudes. Amen.)