instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Where weariness and sloth prevail
When He rose from prayer and returned to His disciples, He found them sleeping from grief.
Over the weekend, I read St. Thomas More's The Sadness of Christ, a meditation on Christ's agony in Gethsemane. One point St. Thomas makes is that we must not allow sorrow to make us sleepy, both literally (remember when "keeping a vigil" meant staying up all night praying rather than going to Saturday evening Mass?) and figuratively, in the sense that our prayers are said senselessly if they are said at all.

Another St. Thomas defines the vice of sloth as an oppressive sorrow that so weighs upon a man's mind, he wants to do nothing. As a special vice, sloth is sorrow in the Divine good, finding sadness in the things of God where charity finds joy. Following St. Gregory, St. Thomas lists six daughters of sloth: malice; spite; faint-heartedness; despair; sluggishness in regard to the commandments; and wandering of the mind after unlawful things.

I will admit that things like this article weary me. Even trying to summarize the paranoia, ignorance, blindness, and heresy expressed by the two religious sisters quoted wearies me. I feel a similar weariness when I read articles in my local newspaper on the inevitability (and, often enough, the gosh-darned wonderfulness) of designer babies, human cloning, gay marriage, and so forth.

Such weariness leaves me feeling spiteful, faint-hearted, despairing, and sluggish. Why? Because as a Christian I should do something about the ignorance, injustice, and evil I encounter, and there just seems to be so much of it.

However, the virtue that opposes sloth happens to be charity. Which means when I am feeling slothful regarding some perceived Christian duty, all I need to do is respond with charity, and the first and best response in charity is prayer, which is always effective.

Assuming it's done.
He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test."