Note from Pastor-Jan. 2019

Jan 8, 2019 by

A word from the pastor….

In the Middle Ages, the passion of acedia became known as sloth. But sloth implies laziness, which acedia is not. Acedia is a restless boredom. It can make our ordinary tasks seem duller than we can stand. Evagrius, who wrote about a list of passions in the fourth century, described acedia as making “the day [seem] fifty hours long.”1 We recall that a passion is an obsessive habit, thought, or emotion that prevents us from loving as God loves. Of the passion of acedia, Roberta Bondi writes, “Nothing seems right; life has lost its savor and it all seems somebody else’s fault, so that the only alternative is to leave everything and go off somewhere else.”2 It could prevent people from staying with their prayer discipline, through which God grows us as disciples. One of the early desert fathers, Abba Moses, taught that only persistently sticking things out in the same place would cure acedia. Speaking of the temptation to leave the prayer cell too often and too soon, he said: “’Sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.’”3

The habit of acedia can still be devastating. I have friends who knew of a couple who sold their house and bought a new one every several years, simply out of restless boredom. Some experience acedia as boredom with a marriage and try to cure it with affairs. Other may go from job to job. Underneath any expression of acedia lies a feeling of empty, restless boredom with life itself.

Bondi says acedia often stems from one of two sources. First, it often comes from some degree of exhaustion, whether due to lack of sleep or lack of leisure. Chronic tiredness can quickly sap one’s interest in life. Rather than filling our time with even more activities, Evagrius advises finding a time and place to be quiet; allowing for some breathing space each day; not letting frantic activity replace prayer.

Second, acedia can come from habitually trying to find meaning in life from things that cannot ultimately fill us. Abba Poeman’s advice here was, “’Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy the heart.’”4 Ultimately, we can only find our deepest self in God. Only God can truly satisfy our bored, restless hearts so that we are able to love well.

Blessing in the New Year,

Betsy Caudill

1 Roberta C. Bondi, To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987) p. 74.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid, pp. 74-75.

4 Ibid, p. 75.

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