Before Gregory the Great’s 7 deadly sins, there were 8 Evil Thoughts. What we now call “sloth” used to be 2 different categories. Omitted was acedia, a deadly listlessness or “worldly sorrow” that Paul warns of in 2 Cor. 7:10. What the desert monks called “the noonday demon,” acedia has many similarities to modern-day depression, but with a spiritual emphasis.
“If you cannot lift yourself to be life invincible and immortal, then you must accept frustration. You must live in a succession of stimulations and new excitements, live for the day, and when these sustaining accidents begin to fail you or you yourself fail to respond to them, then there is nothing before you but sloth and apathy, accidie, which is a lingering suicide.”
– H.G. Wells, Spectator op-ed, 1934
Suicide, indeed. Here a few questions we might consider in understanding our own temptation to acedia:
To use Rebecca Konynydyk-DeYoung’s definition of acedia, what ways are we “resisting the demands of God’s love?”
How might our mediated self-images—the digital, social, data-driven, smart device dependent selves— help/hinder acedia’s grip in our lives?
What is the difference between following Christ by dying to self and a lingering killing of oneself via apathy and worldly sorrow?
How do we over-correct for the temptation of acedia? Which is worse?
What does repentance from and forgiveness of acedia look like?
How might God transform the tedium of acedia to Te Deum worship?
For more on acedia, here is an excellent post from Pathos on 5 cures of it.