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2 great men, same affliction

"I was a little disturbed by the fear that I had done something that so displeased the Holy Father that my resignation would be desirable to him. If this be the case I am prepared without hesitation to leave the episcopacy. I have taken this burden out of obedience, and I have labored with all my power to fulfill the duties of my office.  When the care of temporal things weighed upon my mind, and it seemed to me that my character was little suited to the very cultured world of this city,  I made it known to my fellow bishops that it seemed appropriate to me to request my transfer to one or the other see...Indeed, I am much more accustomed to the country, and will be able to care for the people and faithful living in the mountains, in the coal mines and on the farms since I would be among them.  I am prepared to resign from the episcopate and go to where I may more securely prepare myself for death and for the account that must be rendered to the Divine Justice."

"I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me." 

So who do you think were the authors of these quotes?  Drum roll please...Probably the first thing that comes to mind is that these authors were people who suffered from a profound depression.  Maybe another thought that may surface is that these men were colossal failures, who retroactively were embarrassed by their actions.  What if I told you that both of these men were some of the greatest leaders in their fields, so great that history textbooks have written extensively about their accomplishments.  Interested yet?  So who are these men? and what was their common malady?

The first quote came from St. John Neumann the great bishop of Philadelphia who founded several religious communities, built numerous churches, schools, hospitals, and even a cathedral that is still in existence.  (If you want to find out more about this great saint click here.)

The second quote came from Abraham Lincoln, considered by many to be the greatest president in our country's history.  Through his leadership he was able to save the union, abolish slavery, and unite our country once again under one flag.  His message of reconciliation and forgiveness was pivotal in helping our nation to rebuild during the painful years of reconstruction.

The greatest triumphs of these men was not their enormous successes, but that they were able to overcome their intense and deep seated self hatred.

Self hatred is something that I struggle intensely with.  No matter what accomplishments I am able to achieve all of these matter nothing whenever I feel depressed.  This condition is so deeply rooted in me that at times I can't even accept the well meaning praises of others.  I am bound by this miserable condition, and this cross makes it nearly impossible to live out my faith.  But there is great news...

Through my reading of various holy books and texts I have discovered that the Lord can use my self hatred as a stepping stone for greatness, as a way of both humbling and exalting me.  The Lord can transform this weakness into a strength.  As long as I am always aligned to him, praying daily, in constant communication I can and will become great.

It is my prayer that the Lord blesses me and others who might suffer from this malady.  It is my hope that the Lord is able to transform our collective weaknesses and make us shine in his resplendent and everlasting glory! 


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