Saturday, 10 December 2005

Combating the Passion of Accidie (Sloth) 1 — Sloth in the Monastery

We learn from the Ladder of Divine Ascent that accidie (sloth) affects Hesychasts more than cœnobites. The cœnobium assuages the monk’s tendency to accidie with psalmody and manual labour. St Anthony, according to the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, was taught to vary his routine every hour or so. This also is a treatment for accidie: the variety helps the time pass.

However, in common with the other passions, accidie is primarily a spiritual passion, and the ultimate treatment is spiritual: the memory of our passing. Accidie says that life is long, nothing is happening, that time is passing slowly if at all. The memory of our passing, properly practised, teaches us that life is short, that the day of our passing is unknown, and that the time is short that we have to work on our salvation. This helps us to maintain a proper zeal.

St Hesychios recommends that the Hesychast increase his Eros for God in order to combat accidie. Here we have an example of a virtue related to a passion. Eros is the love that men and women have for each other. As a passion, it is called fornication. The virtue that corresponds to fornication is Eros, that same passionate love, but directed to God and virtue.

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