Monday, January 18, 2016

St. Dymphna and Blue Monday

If you’re feeling particularly depressed today, there’s a reason for that. It’s Blue Monday. Yes indeed, there is actually a name for this annual event, courtesy of clever travel marketeers who want to convince people they need a mid-winter vacation to escape the gloom and melancholy of January. The concept was first heralded about a decade ago after careful calculations determined that the third Monday of the year is the most depressing due to the triple whammy of cold weather, Christmas debts, and broken New Year’s resolutions. So what’s a person to do given all that gloom and doom? Book a plane to Hawaii, of course!

The Catholic Church has another option if sun-soaked tropical beaches aren’t in your budget. (And given whammy number two, chances are they aren’t.) Instead of reaching for the sunscreen, trying reaching out to St. Dymphna, the patron saint of mental and nervous disorders. Dymphna was a 7th century Irish Christian princess who was forced to flee from her own father, a pagan king, when he ordered her to “marry” him. It seems the king was in the throes of a severe mental breakdown following the death of his wife when he made this outlandish request. Horrified, Dymphna fled to Belgium, but her escape was short-lived. The king followed her there, and when once again Dymphna refused his demand, in a rage of fury he cut off his daughter’s head with his sword.

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, recognizing the need for raised awareness of mental illnesses, and acknowledging that January is a tough month for many of us, troubled or not, have therefore designated St. Dymphna as the unofficial patron of Blue Monday and have issued a special prayer for her intercession, which of course can be said on any day of the week.

Prayer to Saint Dymphna for Help 

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) 
Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. 
(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)

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