Might the capital sin of acedia( also known as sloth) be an underlying cause of one’s incessant and obsessive implementation of media?
WHAT IS ACEDIA?
St. Thomas Aquinas defines acedia as “sorrow at the good and disgust with activity.” He also says it’s a “sluggishness” of the subconsciou and will “which disuses to begin good”[ Summa Theologiae, Q. 35 ].
Acedia can evidence through the shunning of the duties in our mood in life or a distaste to do good works. It extends us not to do what one ought to be doing when they ought to be doing it.
Acedia can show spiritually as well. It makes spiritual things abhorrent to us or examine them as a labor too difficult to perform. So, we become tainted with a whisker of sadness because we do not( or falsely think we cannot) do that spiritually good work. As a ensue, we turn to worldly pleasures and worldly things for gratification. It makes work to pick up a spiritual journal or listen to a spiritual talk when we’d rather zone out and do nothing; it can be quite an effort to go against our wayward will. It takes work to spend solitude in devotion or go to daily Mass when we’d rather use our busy-ness as an excuse why “we can’t” or “don’t have time.” These are now able to be masks for spiritual sloth.
However my purpose in writing this post is not to go through all the manifestations of it, but preferably how exactly this vice relates to our expend of media. By media, I am referring largely to technology- internet browsing, iPads, computers, laptops, smartphones, iPhones, music, radio, social media, story shops( good Catholic ones included !), streaming services( Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime ), Kindles, TV, texting and all that could fall under those umbrellas.
MEDIA- USE OR MISUSE?
Technology and media are not bad in themselves. They are gifts from God crafted by the reason and intellect with which God gave man.
The questions are: Are we expending it rightly? Or are we misappropriation it? And where does the weaknes of acedia come in to play? I would argue that more often than not, large and wide, most people are probably misusing it. And I would also argue that misuse often happens in the name of good things, including religious reasons.
WHAT DOES ACEDIA HAVE TO DO WITH IT?
According to Jean-Charles Nault, a Benedictine Abbot, in his record The Noonday Devil, where reference is, through our free will, give in to the weakness of our flesh and this “noonday devil”( a identify given to this vice from Psalm 91 ), it leads us to flee the purposes of the act which grieved us because we’d very not do them. Or, it leads us to flee because we know it will induce us operate and try we’re not willing to put forth at the moment. Then, it leads us to compensate by aiming worldly atonements and earthly things instead.
Acedia demonstrates us an “itch” for something other than what we ought to be doing. It amuses the americans and makes us away from the prayer being offered through that present moment in the duties of our government in life or spiritual exercises.
There are two names I would like to concentrate on now: Flee and offset. These are the “actions” of the frailty of acedia.
How often do we flick on our phones to look at this or be taken to ensure that- right in the middle of someone talking to us( peculiarly our own family members )? How often do we end the task at hand( we abscond) in favor of an app or social media( attempting the quick-fix compensation or pride )? Or, we’re tired, but rather than discipline our wayward person to discontinue our date in devotion, we cave and try to escape( abscond) our weariness by turning to YouTube, music, Netflix, social media moving and the like( compensation ). More often than not, several minutes or even an hour or two go by without us even realizing it. How often are we on the job and rather than perform our undertakings and duties, we are allured to seek a little ease from our undertaking( we abscond) by dishonestly devoting epoch on our phone or internet browser because these other things bring us a little pleasure( compensation) compared to the work we ought to be doing? Or we know we should go to Mass but wait! unwinding and remaining dwelling to watch a game or relax rackets a little easier. “I can pray at home” is the temptation that extends through our mind.
Spiritual reading- or spiritually instructing talks if you’d elevate( no, Church news doesn’t count)- is something the saints tell us we should be doing for at least 10 times every day…but watching a TV show is much easier. We flee, we escape. Why? Because the mere thought of what we ought to be doing disgusteds us or stimulates us to feel dread about it, and so, we seek compensation or solace in a worldly thing.
Acedia very often leads to idle words and idle time- something our Lord Himself admonishes us strongly about 😛 TAGEND
“But I say unto you, that every idle text that subjects shall speak, they shall interpret an account for it in the day of judgment. For by thy utterances thou shalt fully justified, and by thy terms thou shalt be condemned.”[ Matthew 12:36 -3 7, Douay Rheims]
“Wait! You’re saying because I feel tiresome about doing production and bypassed doing it, that it could be driven by the vice of acedia? ” Yes- IF you know there are things you ought to be doing and don’t do them. YES- IF you are well aware deep down that time should be better spent.
“But wait! What about when I only need a little time to recreate and rest even though there are things I could be doing? ”
Stop. We are not talking about “could; ” when discussing the weaknes of acedia, we speak about “should.” Should implies functions- be they spiritual or vocational. Besides, did you know that “right recreation” is actually a righteousnes? St. Thomas Aquinas calls it “eutrapelia.” Exactly as our bodies need physical respite, so too does our soul. A little feeling, light dialogue, games , non-sinful works or indicates, etc … are all legitimate gratifications that can rightfully and lawfully pass require and residual to our soul.
THE VIRTUE OF EUTRAPELIA
As said, eutrapelia is the virtue of right recreation. BUT, St. Thomas wisely cautions us with regard to recreation and solaces[ Summa Theologiae, Q. 168 ]. The three admonishes are these 😛 TAGEND
That the solace in question is not indecent, destructive or sinful.That we not become so “loose” in our recreation that we act against our honor, right ground and good/ tasteful action. There is a “time and a place” as the cliche goes.That we do not use recreation and the pursuit of pleasure inordinately. That is, we don’t seek entertainment, recreation, loosening, and other pleasurable things as an result in themselves but merely aim it out in that we may better serve God, fulfill our duties and refresh our feeling. We may recreate, but with calmnes , not plethora. Our culture, nonetheless, earnestly tends to excess and is in a constant district of feasting, recreation, pleasure-seeking and festival. This is most especially why we need to be wary of our utilize of recreation and free time.
EVEN IN THE NAME OF GOOD THINGS…
Acedia can creep up on us even in the name of good things. We can be distracted from what we ought to be doing through( what seems to us) good and religious things such as reading religious essays, keeping up with Church news, listening to podcasts, being involved in various activities, etc…
It takes constant vigilance, tireless effort and deep modesty to be watchful about how we waste our time.
St. John of the Cross teaches us that when a Christian thrive in devotion to the Lord, they become more cautious of staying away from sinful things. Because of this vigilance of the aspiring saint, the devil knows that the way to pull him away from God’s will is not so much better through unholy things but through things that are in themselves good, but not what the Lord would have him have been engaged in at the time. These things are also called apparent goods because although it materializes as a good thing, in reality it’s a corruption of one’s time, exertion and undertaking. Such are the wiles of the monster! This is why growing in virtue indeed takes modesty; we would miss this possible temptation otherwise.
I know for myself, to be honest, there have been goes when I have easily devoted an hour at night- or maybe even more- say many clauses on things going on in the culture, information and the Church and it left me feeling dispelled in flavour , not refreshed. I would come out of that time realizing it was consumed. I would relent because I had realise “its not” how the Lord had wanted me to spend my time- “its just” me fizzling out because, well, to be quite honest, it was easier to simply sit there and get swept apart moving and sounding. It would often lead me to curtail my spiritual reading and be half-hearted or tired in my light devotion. Or it left me clambering make preparations for the next day. This can happen also through various activities and occupations of kindnes with which we may involve ourselves. We over-extend and then end up neglecting our vocational imperatives or spiritual life.
Let me echoed: To be on guard against acedia, extremely when it comes to the media- which tends to have an instant-gratification effect on us- takes arduous handiwork, constant vigilance and extending humility.
Editor’s note: Please watch for part two of this pole on acedia next week!
This article primarily appeared on SpiritualDirection.com and is reprinted here with manner permission.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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