Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

listlessness

3 Entries

Negligence is a terrible conspirator against our lives and has wronged me many times, and I never case to regard it as our most implacable enemy. The Elder's fervor in protecting us from it and his profound experience of the craft and intricate ways in which it confuses and entangles its victims makes it imperative for us to say something about this enemy of ours.

In the language of the Fathers this is called listlessness (acedia) as well as negligence and sloth, which all mean the same thing -- spiritual death. We shall not go into what the Fathers have said about this pestilence, except that it is included among the eight evil thoughts as a comprehensive vice. We shall simply give helpful extracts from the Elder's experience, which are of particular use in our own generation. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198



"Listlessness begins with despondency and faintheartedness and the prolonged withdrawal of grace. It starts off with the application of economy towards some supposed infirmity or weakness, and ends in total disbelief and shamelessness and ingratitude. For those who live alone as hesychasts it starts from neglect of the rule and order of their lives, and grows if not attended to in good time. But in those who live with others, it begins with idle talk and backbiting." REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

It seems to me that few people understand the extent of the cunning wickedness of these demons and the way in which they assist one another. I have known the demon of cowardice to fight and work together with that of listlessness. One comes to the aid of the other and reinforces him. The first brings fear and obduracy into the soul, the second produces darkness, negligence, blindness of heart and mind, and finally despair. Listlessness is a real trial for all those engaged in the spiritual struggle, but it becomes for them the ambassador of humility. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters





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