Sunday, January 27, 2008


Sadness, or self-pity, is the twin sister of acedia. They are similar in some respects, but not identical. The sad person finds relief more easily, whereas the one besieged by acedia is trapped. Sadness is a temporary, part-time experience, but acedia is global and permanent. In this sense it is opposed to human nature.

The chief symptoms of this devilish “scourge that lays waste at noon” are inner instability and the need for change (with wandering fantasies of a better place), excessive care of one’s own health (with special emphasis on one’s food), escape from manual work (with laziness and inactivity), uncontrolled activism (under the appearance of charity), neglect of the monastic practices (reducing observance to a minimum), indiscreet zeal in a few ascetic exercises (with extreme criticism of one’s neighbor), generalized discouragement (with the beginnings of a depression).

Since acedia stirs up all the other vices, it cannot be cured by a single contrary virtue. What is needed is a varied, multi-layered therapy: tears of compunction (and non-verbal cries for saving help); recourse to God’s Word (to oppose the inroads of vice); meditation on death (to evaluate the present in the light of eternity); patient, persevering resistance (avoiding little compensations and putting one’s trust in the Lord). It is easy to see that all these remedies or weapons lead to an encounter with God. In the last analysis, acedia is a flight from God and is only cured by the patient, practical search for his Face. - Dom Bernardo Olivera


  1. Anonymous1:04 AM

    Have always been interested in this word acedia..

  2. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Lately I have been noticing (& reading) more papers on "acedia" ... why do you think more papers are being written about this problem?


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