Casual Fridays: How Do You Combate The Sin of Sloth

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We know from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that Sloth (also called “acedia” in the Catechism) is a capital sin (#1866). The USCCB’s glossary to the catechism defines it as follows:

SLOTH: A culpable lack of physical or spiritual effort; acedia or laziness. One of the capital sins (1866, 2094, 2733).

In this excellent entry on Sloth, the Catholic Encyclopedia states:

One of the seven capital sins. In general it means disinclination to labour or exertion. As a capital or deadly vice St. Thomas (II-II:35) calls it sadness in the face of some spiritual good which one has to achieve (Tristitia de bono spirituali). Father Rickaby aptly translates its Latin equivalent acedia (Gr.akedia) by saying that it means the don’t-care feeling. A man apprehends the practice of virtue to be beset with difficulties and chafes under the restraints imposed by the service of God. The narrow way stretches wearily before him and his soul grows sluggish and torpid at the thought of the painful life journey. The idea of right living inspires not joy but disgust, because of its laboriousness. This is the notion commonly obtaining, and in this sense sloth is not a specific vice according to the teaching of St. Thomas, but rather a circumstance of all vices. Ordinarily it will not have the malice of mortal sin unless, of course, we conceive it to be so utter that because of it one is willing to bid defiance to some serious obligation. St. Thomascompletes his definition of sloth by saying that it is torpor in the presence of spiritual good which is Divine good. In other words, a man is then formally distressed at the prospect of what he must do for God to bring about or keep intact his friendship with God. In this sense sloth is directly opposed tocharity. It is then a mortal sin unless the act be lacking in entire advertence or full consent of the will. The trouble attached to maintenance of the inhabiting of God by charity arouses tedium in such a person. He violates, therefore, expressly the first and the greatest of the commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength.” (Mark 12:30).

So again, we know the risk of sloth, one of the deadly sins and a constant threat to us given our fallen human nature. Today, I want to dwell on how you and I can combat the sin of sloth in our work — how we put our heads down and do our work (both our daily work and our work on behalf of the Kingdom of God) when all we feel like doing is sitting on the couch watching a chick flick, or wasting hours on our favorite social networking site. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begrudging us leisure time and I know God doesn’t ask that of us either. What I’m asking is how you handle those days when due to despair, fatigue, or a lack of direction you feel as though you simply can’t or don’t want to do your work.

This rarely happens to me personally in my professional life. I wake up most days with a sense of drive and anticipation, excited about the gifts that my work day will hold for me and curious about the surprises that will come my way as the hours unfold. In my domestic life, I have more of a tendency to battle sloth. I’m don’t love housework or cooking and both feel endless at times. When this happens, I try to turn my thoughts to prayer and to the service I am rendering for my family. I try to put my head down, to have a positive attitude and to “offer it up” as the nuns taught me back in the day. Sometimes it works, but honestly sometimes it doesn’t.

So today I’m asking you, do you deal with the sin of sloth in your work? What helps you to keep on track and to persist in loving God (and your work) with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength? Do you face any unique challenges in the sloth department? What saintly role models have you turned to for support and inspiration?

 

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

3 Comments

  1. I’m always willing to do my chores and complete my tasks.The problem arises when I have nothing to do, which unfortunately
    happens a lot in this economy (I’m a free lance restorer of antiques and artist, but I’m not getting much work lately).I was spending too much time watching TV, but I was very disappointed with myself.So I prayed, and Jesus led me to CWG and Jennifer Fitz talked me into starting a blog.I already knew that after my conversion I had developed a passion for writing,but I had put my book aside, as if the idea of getting it published were an impossible dream.Now I don’t write with a goal in mind anymore. Instead, I just write, and that helps me find myself and Christ.

  2. St. Josemaria Escriva has been inspirational to me. He has a lot of beautiful, challenging things to say about finding God and growing in holiness through the ordinary tasks of work and daily life. He talks about God being pleased by us offering up each ordinary, unglamorous thing that we do to Him to do with as he pleases.

    One thing I read recently that struck me is that he says that, in order for something we do to glorify God, we must do it well–to the best of our abilities. So if I am cleaning up my kitchen after dinner, half-heartedly leaving all my dishes to “soak” or deciding to leave sweeping or wiping the counters until the morning isn’t, perhaps, doing the task “well.” It pleases God when we go the last mile, or the extra one, to do a good job with something for His sake.

    Some great quotes by him:

    Your human vocation is a part — and an important part — of your divine vocation. That is the reason why you must strive for holiness, giving a particular character to your human personality, a style to your life; contributing at the same time to the sanctification of others, your fellow men; sanctifying your work and your environment: the profession or job that fills your day, your home and family and the country where you were born and which you love. (Christ is Passing By, 46)

    Let us work. Let us work a lot and work well, without forgetting that prayer is our best weapon. That is why I will never tire of repeating that we have to be contemplative souls in the midst of the world, who try to convert their work into prayer. (Furrow, 497)

  3. Sloth is very tempting – since householt work is never really finished (at least with me…) I sometimes tend to just let things be – they won’t run away. But at the same time it feels wrong – sometimes it helps me to think of St Joseph – in our church there is a relief which shows the nativity – Mary is kneeling next to Baby-Jesus adoring, while St Joseph is just outside the stable cleaning the dishes – but with the help of a little angel – so even if I do tedious work, I can get the help of an angel if I do it for God.

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