Sometimes we are troubled and we are not sure why we feel down. Everything seems to be so heavy on our heart and soul. St Theophan the Recluse offers some of the most practical advice, for monastic and those living in the world, on how to replace depression with brightness, joy and calm.
How many times already have you been made aware of the duty which your conscience dictates to you – the duty to remain with the Lord, not preferring anything else to Him? Perhaps your awareness of this duty no longer ever leaves you. May the actual practise of it likewise prevail constantly within you; for this, after all, is our true aim.
When we are with the Lord, the Lord too is with us, and everything is bright. When the window curtains are drawn apart in a room and the sun shines, the room is full of light. If you draw the curtain over one window it will be darker, and when you draw them all, the room will be in total darkness.
It is the same with the soul. When it is turned towards God with all its powers and feelings, everything is bright, joyful, and calm. But when it turns its attention and feeling to something else, this brightness diminishes. The greater the number of things that occupy the soul, the greater the darkness that invades it; and then complete darkness may result.
It is not so much thoughts that bring darkness, but feelings. While a single instance of being carried away by feelings is less likely to bring darkness than is a continued passionate attachment to some object. The greatest darkness of all comes from external acts of sin.
St Theophan the Recluse (The Art of Prayer p. 261)