Acedia is a spiritual sloth that holds us back from recognizing the Lord’s presence and embracing it. Instead, it leads us to look elsewhere, giving in to distraction and the fulfillment of our desires. By pushing off spiritual goods, we begin to see them as distant and disconnected and can even start to doubt their reality.
Our Kings of Summer exercise has brought acedia to our attention and, once you identify it, you will begin to see its presence lurking everywhere.
Take the example of Doubting Thomas. The apostles were gathered in the upper room on Easter Sunday, all of them except Thomas. Where was he? What was he doing? He was off on his own, and, apparently, was not in a good state of mind. Why else would he have refused to accept the unanimous testimony of the rest of the group? His spirit was elsewhere, caught up in its own thoughts and not focused on patient attention to what the Lord was doing right in front of him.
God drew him out of this state, manifesting himself to him so that he could recognize his Lord and God in Jesus. He needed to see Jesus near him and touch his wounds, a great grace that showed Jesus’s mercy and love to him.
We can see ourselves in Thomas. Jesus is present to us, working in our lives and making himself known. It’s too easy to miss him in our busyness and troubled state of mind. Like Thomas, we need to start looking. After hearing from the other apostles, Thomas wanted to see for himself.
That might be a start for us. Begin looking! Wait for Jesus. Be ready to receive him and acknowledge him when he makes himself known. This attention will be a way to start overcoming acedia.
Who’s been the king of your Summer? Start overcoming Summer sloth today by reading through 2 Samuel with us and following King David’s example!
Dr. Staudt serves as Director of Content for Exodus and as an Instructor for the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Seminary. He is the author of How the Eucharist Can Save Civilization (TAN), Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday & Today (Angelico Press). He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Ave Maria University and B.A. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He and wife, Anne, have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.