Idleness is the workshop of the
devil. If we do not have anything to do, then surely the devil will give us a
lot do. St. John Bosco, feared the vacation days for his boys because there was
simply too much free time on their hands. The saint called vacation time the
“harvest time of the devil”. St.
Bonaventure described it in this way:
“When we are busy at work, one devil may tempt us; however, when we have
nothing to do, then an army of devils are knocking at the door of our hearts.” Couch potatoes vegetate but never blossom and
Without a doubt, one of the best
Biblical examples of the danger of laziness, sloth, indolence is in the example of the “Sin of David”. How could such a holy man of God, poet,
mystic, Shepherd of sheep and Shepherd of the house of Israel, composer of most
of the Psalms, not to mention, “a man
after the heart of God”, fall into adultery and worse yet, plotting the murder
of an innocent man? How could this all
happen??? It all started with Kind David
shirking his responsibility of being the King and military leader of the
Israelites. Instead of leading his soldiers to victory, smug-complacency, pride, and laziness got the
best of David.
David had no plans, no goals set, too
much free time on his hands, and took a long SIESTA! From here, he gave free rein to his eyes,
lusting over Bathsheba, committing adultery with her, and his sin snowballed to the effect of placing
Urias—the husband of Bathsheba—on the front line of battle, with the intention
of killing him and he was killed!
Laziness can lead to serious sins
even that of murder!
Adolph Tanquery superbly defines
SLOTH in these words: “Sloth is an inclination to idleness or at
least aimlessness, to apathy in action. At times this is a morbid disposition
due to poor condition of health. More
frequently it is a disease of the will, which fears effort and recoils from
it. The slothful want to escape all
exertion, whatever might interfere with their comfort or involve fatigue. Like
the real parasite, they live on others to whatever extent they can. Tractable
and submissive as long as no one interferes with them, they become surly and
peevish when one would rouse there from their inaction.” (The Spiritual Life, Tanquery # 884) .
Keenly aware of the danger of sloth
and the poisonous influence in our lives if we succumb to this proclivity, what
then can we do, what might be our strategy or game plan so as to avoid being a
slave to laziness? Behold the remedy!
PRAYER/HOLY SPIRIT. Indeed sloth is a sickness of a weak and
anemic soul, whose relationship with
God is weak, mediocre, like smoldering coals turning to an ash heap! The Holy
Spirit sets our hearts on fire and extinguishes sloth. For that reason Jesus
exclaimed: “I have come to cast fire and
I am not at peace until that fore be ignited.” May the Holy Spirit burn away
the dredges of sloth in our hearts!
MEDITATE ON THE FOUR LAST THINGS:
DEATH, JUDGMENT, HEAVEN AND HELL! The
Ignatian meditation on the “Four Last Things” can serve as a most efficacious
tool to extricate our hearts from the quicksand of sloth. Every day we should
call to mind our mortality--- one day we will die and we know neither the day
nor the hour! Then, judgment follows immediately. Paul states, “What we sow is what we will
reap.” Hopefully we will go before the Lord with our hands, minds and hearts
full of works of charity towards our neighbor. HEAVEN OR HELL! One of
the most striking Parables of Jesus (Lk. 16) is that of Lazarus and the Rich
man (Dives). Lazarus, the poor man, dies and goes to heaven. Dives, the rich
man, dies and goes to hell! Why, then,
did the rich man go to hell??? It was not for what he did; rather, he was
condemned for what he failed to do, a sin of omission. The rich man miserably failed to see Jesus
truly present in Lazarus the poor man, who was really Jesus in disguise!
PLAN OF LIFE AND GOALS. All of us should have two sets of goals: long
term goals and short term. A long term
goal, might be to go to school to be a doctor or the seminary to become a
priest. A short term goal is what you strive to accomplish on a weekly or even
daily basis. These short term goals, can be of many sizes and shapes, but a few
examples might be: daily Mass, daily Rosary, daily Holy Hour, visit a sick,
clean the house, clean the house of my
soul (a good confession), a half an hour of spiritual reading to finish that
“Spiritual classic”. With goals in mind,
the devil of laziness is put at bay! Every morning write down objects; at night
check to see if they were accomplished!
FRATERNAL CHARITY! The most important virtue in the spiritual
life is that of charity—both love of God and neighbor. Look at the cross. The
vertical refers to our love of God and the horizontal, our love of neighbor.
Due to laziness, we deprive our neighbor of many graces and blessings that he
would have otherwise received. That is
why St. Therese points out: “When somebody does good, the whole world is lifted
closer to heaven; when one does evil, the world sinks down.” May it be our
goal—on a daily basis—to do as much good as we can to motivate and edify our
neighbor to do the same!
all know from sad experience that when we give into any vice, but especially
that of SLOTH, then we feel afterwards sad, depressed, disheartened,
discouraged! On the contrary, after a hard days’ work, goals set and
accomplished, with order, method, as well as purity of intention, then we lay
our head to the pillow at night and can say to the Lord: “Jesus, thank you! Due to your grace and constant help, much was
accomplished today. Good night Lord!
Tomorrow, I will be even more generous with you. Lord, Jesus, with the help of Mary, Our Lady of
fair love, and fervent charity, I want to conquer the world to your Heart. O
Lord, you came to set the world on fire. Take me from your sheath and launch me
into the world as a fiery arrow of love!
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