Apologetics 101: Acedia

Do you know that feeling of being tired in the middle of the day, of not wanting to do anything, of avoiding our spiritual and secular responsibilities? That’s called “acedia” otherwise known as the Noonday Devil. The Church has some practical tips for how to beat it.

  • Acedia comes from a Greek word which means “lack of care.” It’s when we are drained of our energy and are especially vulnerable to temptation and despair.

  • Acedia is more than laziness. Procrastination is not doing nothing, it’s doing everything except the one thing God wants us to do at that moment.

  • Saint Thomas Aquinas says of acedia: “we hate to be alone and quiet, and find innumerable ways to distract ourselves.”

  • Acedia causes us to become disgusted with spiritual things and desire the pleasures and comforts the world offers.

Here are some practical ways to fight Acedia:

  1. Make frequent acts of the will. This means doing things because we know we should rather than because we want to. The will is what makes us human. When we do things which we don’t really want to do (like exercising or taking medicine) we become more human and more resistant to vices like Acedia.

  2. Memento Mori: ‘remember your death.’ Each of us will die someday. When we meditate on this, the things which trouble us (or the things we are avoiding because of Acedia) become smaller and more manageable when we compare them with eternity.

  3. Move! The Noonday Devil wants us to lay down and languish and feel bad for ourselves. Motion creates emotion! Get up and do one thing.

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