The freedom Pope Francis is speaking of is one of deliverance from the consequences of the Fall, primarily our disconnection from God and the darkening of our soul (slavery to sin). As Catholics, we believe that this spiritual illness was accompanied by bodily sickness, death, and disease (including mental health conditions). This means that our spiritual health and our bodily health are inextricable bound together in this world. Now, we must careful here not to oversimplify this reality and pretend that our life of faith will simply “cure” these conditions. Christ offers us transformation, yes, but we still need to care for our physical and psychological wellbeing with all available resources. As we grow closer to God, our conditions may become less burdensome and our symptoms can improve. At the same time, caring for our mental health can open the door to our spiritual healing.

Pope Francis goes on to say, “True, Baptism has begun our process of liberation, yet there remains in us an inexplicable longing for slavery. A kind of attraction to the security of familiar things, to the detriment of our freedom.”

Repentance is the path to freedom. Now, this word can evoke many emotions, especially for those already struggling with self-worth, so it may be helpful to hone in on what it actually means. As you may know, the Greek word for repentance is metanoia, which means “change of mind or heart”. The Early Church Fathers speak of this often, describing the healing of the soul as a continual movement of the heart back towards God. By turning away from what enslaves us, we begin to heal our soul. This is the whole purpose of Lent. This is where mental health intersects with spiritual health; our mental health can make it challenging to turn to God or participate in the “medicine” offered by the Church (sacraments, prayer, community). We can feel as though we are also held captive by these conditions. In this way, addressing our mental health is actually part of the work of salvation. By caring for our mental health and turning away from the things that exacerbate our bodily suffering, we are opening a space for God to work on our spiritual healing as well! In many ways, spiritual healing actually starts with caring for our mind and body in simple/basic ways.

We’ve shared some prayers above if you’d like to add them to your Lenten efforts. They all contain elements of spiritual and mental wellbeing integrated together.

Want more ways to receive our content? Follow us on Instagram or Facebook!

* The information provided is for self-enrichment and not intended to replace any necessary mental health treatment.⁣


Jonathan Dixon, LMFT
Alpha Omega Team