The Holy Spirit Speaks through the Darkness

It never ceases to amaze me how the Holy Spirit can speak to us if only we are open to it. We might open a book and find just the passage we need to answer a question that has been bothering us or a friend might call at the moment when life is falling apart and offer the encouragement that is desperately needed. Somehow, God provides what we need when we need it. As a former spiritual director of mine was fond of saying, “There are no coincidences, only God-incidences.” I had an experience like that just this past week.

Wednesday morning, I had the strong feeling that I should go to morning Mass. It was 7:50 a.m. My local Church has an 8:15 mass. My children were occupied and my husband was home so I could go; I hadn’t eaten yet so I knew I could go to communion. There was nothing standing in my way, so I decided to heed the call and go.

The first reading was from the book of Tobit (Tobit 3:1-11). It told the story of two people begging for death. The first was Tobit who had been blind for four years. He felt like a burden to his family. As Tobit states, “be pleased to take my life from me; so that I may be delivered from earth and become earth again. Better death than life for me, for I have endured groundless insult and am in deepest sorrow.”

The second suffering soul was Sarah. She had been married seven times, yet each time her husband died before the marriage could be consummated. For this, she was taunted by her father’s serving girls. She decided that life was no longer worth living. She made the decision to hang herself, but then she thought better of it, knowing that such an action would only bring shame to her father. She decides, “I should do better not to hang myself, but to beg the Lord to let me die and not live to hear any more insults.” Ultimately, the Lord would take pity on both Tobit, who would eventually be healed of his blindness, and Sarah, who would be married to Tobias and live happily with him for many years.

The homily that morning focused on trusting in God even in our darkest hour, trusting that God has a plan that will come to fruition in God’s time, not ours. This was a message I desperately needed to hear. Yes, it is something that I am well aware of, but sometimes one does need a reminder. Both Tobit and Sarah had good reasons for feeling discouraged. As someone who has suffered from depression for over twenty years, discouragement often seems like my constant companion and darkness often prevails. I can be fine for a while, and then I will wake up one morning and feel like I was hit by a two by four during the night. It is like a dark curtain has fallen and life seems meaningless.

Anyone who thinks that people choose to be depressed has never truly experienced depression. I have been in that place where I have begged for death more times than I care to admit. As a teenager, I was suicidal. Only my fear of hell kept me alive. As an adult, I have more perspective. I know the curtain will eventually lift, although sometimes it can take months. I have learned how to function in spite of my feelings so that even those closest to me are unaware of what I am going through. Only my faith carries me through until the light eventually comes again. Yes, I know what it is to suffer in the darkness and throw myself on God’s mercy. This message of trusting in God was one that I needed to be reminded of. I need to believe that God has a plan. The Holy Spirit reached out and spoke to me through the darkness. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur


Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur writes from western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two sons. A Senior Editor with Catholic, she blogs at

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  • Claire

    Patrice, I just finished reading your book “Letters to Mary from a Young Mother”. It was excellent! Thank you for giving a voice to some issues that are universal to new mothers, and for helping point us toward our mother Mary.

  • ncgolf

    I think there is another aspect to this that we get the gift to recognize the Holy Spirit working in our lives. I do not think all have this.

    This not only helps my own consolation but also in my dealings with others … I know my presence, words, prayers, everything is somehow, someway important and vital … though I may never know in my lifetime why this is so. This gives incredible importance to all actions, however small and seemingly insignificant.

  • pfmacarthur

    Thank you, Claire, for your kind words about my book!

    ncgolf- I think you make a very good point about how important we are to others. We may never know the good we have done in this world.

  • guitarmom

    Patrice, I closely relate to everything you’ve said about the feelings of depression. I have suffered from each and every one of the symptoms you describe.

    May I be so bold as to share what has helped me arise from the black clouds that enveloped me? Magnesium. I read a Natural Family Planning nutrition book that suggested taking magnesium supplements to help stave off depression. Every time I would take magnesium, I’d feel the black clouds of depression lift. If I missed a day, I’d feel them descend upon me anew. I started to call magnesium my “Happy Family Pills,” because when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

    Magnesium supplements have helped many people I know fight back from clinical depression. There are certainly cases that require much more for a cure from this life-sucking condition, but magnesium is a cost-effective and often successful first step in the battle.

    I hope this helps you and any other readers who have suffered from depression. God bless you all.