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January 13, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Best quotes on Acedia, Lethargy, and Inaction

Acedia . . . is a profound withdrawal into self. Action is no longer perceived as a gift of oneself, as the response to a prior love that calls us. . . . It is seen instead as an uninhibited seeking of personal satisfaction in the fear of “losing” something. The desire to save one’s “freedom” at any price reveals, in reality, a deeper enslavement to the “self.” There is no longer any room for an abandonment . . . to the other or for the joy of gift; what remains is sadness or bitterness within the one who distances himself from the community and who, being separated from others, finds himself likewise separated from God.

— Jean-Charles Nault, OSB

Most of us want to be safe. We want to find a cocoon, a spiritually, psychologically, economically, and physically gated community in which to live without danger and disturbance. The care-free life, a life a-cedia, is our cultural ideal.

— R.R. Reno

When used in the moral sense, the person seized by acedia is the affect-less individual, the one incapable of investment or commitment, a person who cannot get deeply involved in any cause or relationship. . . . Sloth as moral apathy is what hinders a person from pursuing that which is good. It is a refusal to seek the good because it is difficult and demanding.

— Kenneth R. Himes, OFM

Sloth is a type of escapism, an evasion of responsibility. It comes down to a form of “practical atheism”. . . . What is at stake [whether in] pride or slothfulness is a negation of appropriate humility; a denial of relationality and community; a quest for self-sufficiency that, in the case of sloth, involves too thoroughgoing an adsorption in the views and evaluations of others. . . .

— Jean Bethke Eishtain

The vice of noninvolvement is said to be endemic in the Western world. The acedias is a person without commitment, who lives in a world characterized by mobility, passive entertainment, self-indulgence, and the effective denial of the validity of any external claim. . . . Sometimes [acedia] is identified with sloth or idleness, but that is only the external face of an attitude marked by chronic withdrawal from reality into the more comfortable zone of uncommitted and free-floating fantasy. The temptation to acedia is an invitation to abandon involvement and leave the pangs of creativity to others.

— Michael Casey, OCSO

We may say this of the face of Sloth: . . . it is the face of those . . . in whom the sap seems never to have arisen.

— Henry Fairlie

It is not at all clear that these three features of modern society—fun industries, fashions, and celebrity cult—banish boredom. Analogy with aspirin is appropriate: high dosage means not the absence but the presence of pain.

— Orrin E. Klapp

The peace we can aspire to is not a harmonious peace of the grave, nor a submissive peace of the slave, but a hardworking peace of the brave.

— William Ury

The original quotes are here.

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