deeper than moods

It’s been one of those weeks, and so even more than usual, TGIF!

On the surface it’s been a week like most other weeks with a mixture of good and bad, struggles and hopes. But every now and then I have a few days when things get to me more than usual and I find it difficult to be generous or tolerant (to say the least).  Just ask the parish councillors who were at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World opens with the words joy, hope, griefs and anxieties. For all of us most weeks have a mixture of these emotions, but some weeks (like this week for me) are more difficult than usual for reasons that we can rarely completely fathom.  There have been a number of good moments for me this week, but the positive moments seemed to get lost in the other stuff.

One of my great Jesuit teachers, Dick Hauser SJ, linked his moods (good and bad) to what Ignatius of Loyola calls consolation and desolation. This has helped me a lot, especially on the days when I struggle a bit, and friends and parishioners would say that I am in a “bad mood.”

Dick writes that it is essential to acknowledge bad moods: “A short cut for recognising the absence of the Holy Spirit in our inner experience is becoming conscious of our bad moods…”

It is not simply that a good mood is from God and a bad mood is not. Moods are much more complex than this. For the one who is seeking to live more deeply in relationship with Christ, a bad mood can be the result of making changes in my life that I know the Spirit of God has placed before me. The bad mood might come from the struggle I have to live in this new Christ-centred way.

The only way beyond the surface mood is to move deeper and speak to Jesus in the depth of our hearts. While sex drugs and/or music might be able to shift the mood, I am better off to reject these escapes and speak to Jesus from the midst of my mood, remembering the antiphon of today’s Mass psalm: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.” Such willingness to engage with God in the reality of my bad mood gives God the opportunity to focus me once again on the reality of God-given joy and hope. You might like to try this. I guarantee God will not miss the chance to work in you in this way.

As older Catholics learnt well in their Catechism: “Where is God?” “God is everywhere”…even in my bad moods.


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