Doing my rounds this morning, I came across this article The Virtue of Despair. I immediately identified with the reflection of the nihilist philosopher Nietzsche:
Out of such abysses, from such severe sickness one returns newborn, having shed one’s skin, more ticklish and malicious, with a more delicate taste for joy, with a more tender tongue for all good things, with merrier senses, with a second dangerous innocence in joy, more childhood and yet a hundred times subtler than one has ever seen before.
I had the impression of having been through something like that from about last November until a couple of months ago. I have to say that I emerged freer and more myself, able to deal better with various feminine shenanigans.
For us in the northern hemisphere, it is no accident that the Paschal Cycle falls in the lunar cycle of spring, and that the Passion and Resurrection of Christ are reflected in nature – including ourselves and the effects the changing seasons have on us. The experience of more daylight and sunshine does wonders!
We should see this reflection on despair as an analogy. At a moral level, despair is the sin against the virtue of Hope. If there is hope, despair is never absolute but a passing period of suffering. I often mention the quote of Léon Bloy: Souffrir passe, avoir souffert ne passe jamais. The idea is also found in the writings of Saint Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus. Perhaps she had read Bloy’s writings. Pain leaves us, but we remain marked, as the risen Christ will remain with the stigmata of his Passion.
These thoughts should accompany us as we approach the sacred Triduum and the Transitus Domini of which we find the archetypes in the Old Testament, the Mysteries of the ancient world and in our own lives.