The luxury of
harboring a
resentment has
cost us dearly,
for we are
experiencing a
"spiritual hangover."

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Spiritual Hangovers
by Mother Angelica

When we think of anyone having a "hangover" our minds immediately picture someone who is paying dearly for over-indulging in alcohol. The penalty for this over-indulgence is headache, stomach  ache, and a general feeling of misery. The body has given the individual involved a warning - a bodily experience of an emotional problem. The soul's lack of self-control has so influenced the bodily functions that death is thought imminent.

Any form of over-indulgence creates within the body warning signs of destruction. Too much smoking produces lung cancer, lust produces venereal disease, over-eating weakens the heart, drinking causes cirrhosis of the liver, drugs bring on mental and emotional illnesses. As serious as these conditions may be, they are visible and apparent. This is a blessing because both the cause and effect can be used by the soul. Over-indulgence can be controlled by a virtuous life and the effect of illness can be cured with medical help. The soul becomes aware of its weaknesses and lack of self-control by the breaking down of bodily functions. Self-preservation and self-love enable the soul to practice the self-control that neither God nor neighbor has succeeded in attaining for it. There is then a kind of "safety valve" for some weaknesses. When our weaknesses affect health and friendship, we are very much aware of their existence.

This is not always true of other weaknesses. Perhaps this is so because we think we are not always dealing with personal faults, weaknesses or tendencies but rather the various effects people and events have upon us. By blaming our reactions on particular persons or circumstances, we make whatever unchristian attitude we adopt appear justified. It is in this justified state of mind that we nurse and nourish our resentments, anger, hatred, regrets and guilt. It all seems so right that we never succeed in extricating ourselves from the mire of evil. Our minds, like broken records, repeat, rehearse, rehash and relive the hurts, the angry moments, and the disappointments. If this attitude continues for days, and days turn into years, we can be sure we are indulging in a bad attitude. The luxury of harboring a resentment has cost us dearly, for we are experiencing a "spiritual hangover." We are allowing something that upset our souls to hangover for months or years and destroy us.

It is self-indulgence that brings on our spiritual hangovers. A soul that deliberately harbors hurt feelings will soon experience a "hangover." St. Paul told the Galatians that anger, factions, envy, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels were classified under self-indulgence. Those who find pleasure in these tendencies and continue to nourish them in their souls, will live with a perpetual "hangover." However there are other kinds of "hangovers." These are different than the self-indulgent ones; these are the effect of imperfections, those sudden flare-ups, acts of impatience and tactless words. After indulging in these faults, a fervent soul looks back, makes an act of repentance and love and goes on as if nothing happened. However, the soul that tends to indulge in self-pity, looks back, repents, but does not drop the incident. Remorse and regret begin to gnaw at the soul. Discouragement and sadness take up residence in this temple of God and although the Spirit has not left the soul because no grievous sin has been committed, the work of the Spirit is slowed down by this "spiritual hangover." The Spirit waits until the soul forgets its feelings and can once more listen to Him.


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