The root of this term goes back to an ancient Greek word for sloth. This has been my temptation and failing here in the final weeks of winter. I believe Christians of all stripes are susceptible to this temptation, particularly this time of year.
For those of us in the Klondike, we’ve been, for the most part, trapped indoors for the past several months. The days have been short; there’s a lack of light. It’s “the pothole season.” I don’t know about others, but my usual cheek-of-tan has turned pallid as I have been locked in the “cabin.” And so I slouch into listlessness and inertia. I sigh at my lack of progress in the spiritual life and at the ever-growing mountain of work on my desk. My attitude becomes “boo hoo, woe is me!” My gripe-quotient rises along with my dissatisfaction index. Of course I have many excuses. “I’ve been sick, I’m still getting over it…there’s too much work to accomplish in one day…blah, blah, blah.”
And then there’s Lent. It comes with perfect timing just to annoy me. The call is towards greater discipline, self-control and self-death, but my indolent spirit cries out, “No! I’ve died enough this month! I’ve had enough! I think I’ll eat some cookies and take a nap.”
How do we fight such accidia? How do we fight sloth? A helpful phrase from the spiritual tradition is “Age quod agis.” Do what you are doing. To focus on one’s task-of-the-moment is to submit to God’s will now and is an excellent spiritual practice. In other words to fight lethargy we ought to keep on keeping on, doing our daily duty as best we can.
The season of Lent is a perfect opportunity to fight accidia. We are called to conversion, from focus-on-self to focus-on-Jesus. This season is a call to repair and deepen our relationship with the Lord. It’s about intimacy; it’s about greater love.
There’s also certain Marian-Spousal component to this whole project. We must place ourselves with Mary at the foot of the Cross. Like Our Lady, we are all co-workers with Christ. We all share in Christ’s self-gift for the salvation of the world. This work is accomplished in the heart of each Christian. In as much as this Lent begets a transformation of heart, it will vanquish the demon accidia.
Special thanks to Most Rev. Allen Henry Vigneron, Bishop of Oakland, for the inspiration and content behind this post.