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Colin O’Brien writes today about acedia as the sin of our time. Otherwise known as sloth, acedia is often associated with being lazy, but O’Brien points out that it’s really more than just lack of effort:
Acedia is often described as the sin of “sloth”; but that can lead to a mistaken interpretation of it as “laziness.” It’s more akin to indifference resulting from a loss of hope. Being busy with things that distract us from joy in the Lord and in His love can be symptomatic of it, e.g., choosing to work or do another activity rather than stick to a prayer routine, or even go to Sunday Mass. […] This year has been difficult in so many ways on a national and on a global scale: our nation seems beset by both natural disaster and civil unrest; in many ways, this particular election season has been one marked, not by heightened interest and engagement in political life, but rather one of cynicism and strife, even among close friends and family members…
The loss of hope can send us into a very dark place where our worries can overwhelm us to the point where we give up. Anna O’Neil discussed perfectionism in her piece today. She went through a number of activities and situations where she knew she could not perform a task or speak perfectly, so she would give up:
I gave up playing the guitar when it became clear to me that I’d never be an excellent guitarist, abandoning a good thing because it wasn’t a perfect thing. I used to pray the rosary more, but the exhaustion that’s part of this season of my life has gotten in the way of anything resembling actual meditation on the mysteries. So I decided that since I couldn’t pray the rosary perfectly, I would stop saying it altogether. A woman I know and admire had received tragic news, but I couldn’t think of anything to say that would be exactly right, so I didn’t say anything.
The loss of hope of perfection has kept her from doing things that might have made a difference to her or others. Choosing to do nothing rather than doing something badly on a day-to-day basis can slowly bring about a regular apathetic response to everyday occurrences. Anna writes at the end that through acknowledging these shortcomings she will attempt to abandon her sense of perfectionism. What do you think?